The Pickens Report – March 2019

Community

THE PICKENS REPORT

MARCH 2019

Spring has arrived in Pickens County. This time of year is marked with beautifully blooming foliage across the county. In the spirit of the season, Pickens County Government is collaborating with Keep Pickens Beautiful for “Tire Amnesty April”. This recycling program allows for any Pickens family to recycle four tires (off the wheel) for free. The tires can be recycled at the Pickens Recycling Centers off Camp Road and Cove Road throughout the month of April. Additionally, during the month of April, Pickens County Government is taking bid applications for the construction of Tate Fire Station. This is a SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Options Sales Tax) funded project. Bid packets can be picked up at the Pickens County Administrative Building. All bids are due by 2:00 p.m. on the 25th day of April.

During the month of March, Public Works and Utilities departments completed renovating the historic “Marble Building” formerly the Convict Camp off Camp Road. This facility will house both departments until a new maintenance facility is built on the compound. Additionally, the Water Department installed four new water meters. The Department of Planning and Development issued 40 new building permits. The Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 26 animals, and 74 went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 27 cases. The 911 Operations Center received 1,640 total calls, 770 were medical responses or fire related. The Pickens County Recreation Department is in full-swing with their spring sports season. PCRD is also currently accepting applications for summer camp counselors and life guards. Please contact PCRD at 706-253-8863 for more information. Pickens County Government departments continue to stay busy working for the citizens of Pickens County. The Pickens County Board of Commissioners continues to do a great job of leading these efforts. As work progresses, and projects continue, I will do my best to keep you informed of these developments.

Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!

Photo courtesy of Mari Livsey – Knowpickens.com

Vaping Field Test presented to BOE by Clint Anderson

News, Police & Government

JASPER, Ga. – A Vaping Field Test with the potential to examine the chemical composition of solids, powders, liquids, and gels utilizing a handheld laser reader and an updatable database of substances was presented by Clint Anderson of the company Safeware during the Board of Education meeting held on Friday, April 12, 2019.

Clint Anderson of Safeware holding a TacticID model 1064.

The device, called “TacticID”, uses something called “Raman Spectroscopy”, which according to Anderson is the process of firing a laser into a molecule to receive a unique fingerprint for the substance being monitored.

Each substance will have a unique fingerprint. If the substance being read by the laser on board the device is known to the device (utilizing its updatable software dictionary), then the results will be displayed to the operator of the device. If no known substance is found, then the results can be sent off to Safeware for further testing.

Any additional substances discovered will be added to the device via a free software update from Safeware, meaning that new and upcoming substances can be added at no additional cost to the county.

Examples of explosives and hazardous materials detected.

Anderson cites that there are over 10,000 agents currently indexed by the device, and not all are drugs. The TacticID also picks up on explosives and hazardous chemicals, and unlike previous models, the showcased model 1064 also has a much stronger laser with the ability to more easily determine the composition of darker materials. The laser is so strong, in fact, that it can read through bags, vials, etc.

Any drugs examined by the device will return different color codes that quickly determine their federal scheduling. Substances deemed not hazardous will return a green screen. A yellow screen represents drugs that fall under schedules three through five, such as Tylenol containing codeine, ketamine, Xanax, Ambien, Lyrica, etc.

Substances deemed most hazardous, which fall under federal scheduling one and two, will return a red screen. These substances include heroine, cocaine, meth, oxycodone, and even marijuana for reasons unknown to the author.

The TacticID device is ultimately a potential solution to the dangerous unknown substances being found within vaping products throughout the county, as well as others throughout the state. Anderson cites that the device would cost the county $43,831, though this includes all adapters, all future software and firmware updates, etc.

Raman MDMA spectrum examples.

The device would also make it less dangerous for law enforcement agents to check for potential hazardous materials and dangerous narcotics, as they can use the included adapters to scan the substances in question without needing to come into contact with them.

The Board of Education wouldn’t be the only ones to foot the bill. Sheriff Donnie Craig states that there would be other potential county and state funding sources as well, as the device wouldn’t be used just for incidents related to the school system.

Updates will be posted as we receive them!

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Pickens BOE Presents Several Students with Awards

Dragon's Corner, News

JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Education presented awards to several students during their regular board meeting on Thursday, April 11, 2019.

Valedictorian Emily Robinson (left), C. Wallace (right).

Emily Robinson was awarded the title Valedictorian, while Rosa Willis won Salutatorian. These titles are based on class ranking, determined by student Grade Point Average.

Robinson isn’t entirely sure where she wishes to continue her education, though she has narrowed her options down to Emory University, Duke, Harvard, and Johns Hopkins, all of which has already accepted her. 

Willis has chosen Berry College as her college of choice.

The 2019 STAR Student award was presented to Dale Smith, having the highest combined three-part SAT score on the same date. Smith has decided that he will continue his education at the University of North Georgia.

Salutatorian Rosa Willis (left), C. Wallace (right).

Emma Long wasn’t present and won first place in the National Talent Competition at the National FFA Conference in Indianapolis, Indiana earlier this year. This is her second National Award.

On Thursday, March 21, 2019, the Jasper Middle School Math Team, comprised of Jeremy Westbrook, Eric Malcolm, Grayson Ludington, Diego Rivera, Wyatt Richards, Coleman Keener, Ada Keener, and Julie Hermann, won first place at the Berry College Math Competition for the second time this year.

The final round of awards presented were for a 4-H contest that occurred last March, known as the “District Project Achievement”. The seventh through twelfth grade students (Conner Watson, Colin Watson, and Titus Matteson) had to complete a portfolio to showcase their year-long work and project area in addition to their leadership and community service activities. They also had to present a 10 to 12 minute speech on their project area. Watson placed second in Wildlife and Marine Sciences, while Matteson placed third in Housing Equipment and Environment.

STAR Student Dale Smith (left), C. Wallace (right).

The fourth through sixth graders (Sarahi Flores, Sheila Flores, Sky Paredes, and Sophia Scott) had to prepare and present a four to six minute speech with props in front of two judges. All four girls placed first in their category.

 

 

 

 

 

Congratulations from the Fetch Your News team to all who received recognition during this meeting!

Berry College Math Competition Winners (one of two)

Berry College Math Competition (two of two)

4-H District Project Achievement Award Winners

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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County finds funding for Jones Mountain Road slide

News

JASPER, Ga. – The citizens of Pickens County breathe a sigh of relief today as County Commission Chairman Rob Jones shares information on funding for repairs of the damage that has shut down Jones Mountain Road close to two months ago.

Citizens have been avoiding the area since February 22, 2019, when the county closed the road after major storms washed out the ridge under the road and caused part of the pavement to crumble away. The road is still closed today, but Jones says this will change soon as the funding will allow them to move forward with a proposal from GeoStabilization International to reopen the road.

The county has secured $1.3 million in funding from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank with the SRTA (State Road and Tollway Authority as well as an additional $500,000 from the state’s emergency LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) to cover the estimated $1.8 million project. These estimations came when Chairman Jones called the event a “major disaster” in early March.

Jones says that additional companies have spoken with the county about their own proposals for the repairs. But utilizing these funds requires the project to meet and adhere to DOT guidelines. Additionally, operating under the emergency status for the county, they will not wait for a bid process that could take up another two months before any repairs begin. Instead, the county is moving forward under the proposal with GeoStabilization International.

While the road will take upwards of two months to fully repair, Jones reiterated his intentions, as he explained in the March Commissioners’ Meeting, to get the road open for use of a single lane within the next two weeks. As part of the proposal, this quick turnaround will address the extra 4.7 miles that both citizens and emergency services must travel to go around the slide area.

While some points of the project are still up for negotiations in the upcoming pre-construction meetings, Jones asserts that the funding will cover the entirety of the project. However, he did note that the county could reach into the $100,000 contingency funds should the need actually arise.

Jones noted that receiving the state funding would not have been possible without a major concerted effort. Pickens County Finance Director Faye Harvey in conjunction with state representatives Steve Gooch, Rick Jasperse, andChuck Payne worked alongside Emily Dunn on the State Board to make a last-minute push for state involvement to bring funds to relieve the citizens from such a major financial impact from this emergency.

Citizens of Pickens should begin seeing the repairs and construction beginning soon and in a matter of weeks, access through the entirety of Jones Mountain Road should be returned, if only a limited one lane access.

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Kickoff 4 Kids

Announcements

Governor & SRTA approves grant for Jones Mtn Road repair

Announcements

 

Office of Communications & Engagement
245 Peachtree Center Avenue, Suite 2200 • Atlanta, Georgia 30303

 

Ericka B. Davis, Chief Communications Officer
404-893-3033, office
404-226-9339, cell
edavis@srta.ga.gov
Scheree Rawles, Communications and Media Relations Director
404-893-3025, office
470-249-7531, cell
srawles@srta.ga.gov

 

GOVERNOR KEMP AND SRTA BOARD APPROVE $1.3 MILLION IN STATE GRANT FOR EMERGENCY AID TO PICKENS COUNTY

Funding allocated to address damage caused by rock slide on Jones Mountain Road

Governor Brian P. Kemp and the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) Board of Directors voted today to award $1.3 million in grant funding to Pickens County. The grant would come from the Georgia Transportation Infrastructure Bank (GTIB) program for the emergency stabilization of Jones Mountain Road within Pickens County.

“We are grateful to Governor Kemp, the SRTA Board and staff for awarding these grants through the infrastructure bank program which are truly needed by local governments to help address much needed transportation improvements, such as the emergency situation that we are dealing with,” said Pickens County Commission Chairman Robert P. Jones.

The closure of Jones Mountain Road due to a rockslide has significantly impacted residents’ ability to get to and from work and school, receive much needed medical care and has restricted access to local businesses. This disruption to the county’s transportation system causing detours to alternate routes has already resulted in longer commute times for the traveling public.

Governor Kemp, Chair of the SRTA Board, worked with state and county leaders to facilitate the awarding of the grant during this emergency incident. “GTIB was created to serve as an additional funding resource to support government entities, particularly at the local level, in order to accelerate transportation project delivery”, stated Governor Kemp. “We are fortunate that the State of Georgia is in a sound fiscal position to provide transportation assistance for local governments when unforeseen circumstances hinder the safety and mobility of the traveling public and negatively impact businesses and communities.”

The County will receive $1.3 million in GTIB funds to supplement $500,000 in additional funding from GDOT and $100,000 from Pickens County to ensure that the area surrounding Jones Mountain Road is stable and safe for passage. This includes removing and clearing off any debris, repairing the damaged roadway, building out the shoulder to accommodate the guardrail, and securing the surrounding landscape to avoid future rock slides for the safety of the traveling public.

The total estimated project cost is $1.9 million.

 

About the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA)

SRTA is a state-level, independent Authority created to operate tolled transportation facilities within Georgia and acts as the transportation financing arm for the state.  SRTA manages the collection of tolls on Georgia’s Express Lanes System through the use of Peach Pass; administers the Atlanta region’s vanpool program; and manages the Xpress regional commuter coach transit service. In 2017, SRTA combined with the Georgia Regional Transportation Authority (GRTA) to jointly provide the services of both state authorities. The GRTA Board of Directors oversees Developments of Regional Impact, air quality reporting and regional transportation plan approval.

Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 04/01 to 04/07

Arrest Reports

PCSO arrest report/photos provided by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. The Georgia Open Records Act (O.C.G.A. 50-18-70) allows for www.fetchyournews.com to obtain and post the arrest records of any and all individuals arrested in Pickens County. Those arrests are posted on www.fetchyournews.com for viewing pleasure. Please remember that all individuals listed have been arrested and charged, however, they are presumed innocent until guilt has been proven in a court of law.

Deputy dies in Pickens training facility

News

 

Deputy Sheriff II Spencer Englett

Deputy Sheriff II Spencer Englett

(Photo from Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office Social Media)

 

JASPER, Ga. – Two families mourn today after the sudden death of Deputy Sheriff II Spencer Englett, 29, during training in Pickens County.

Englett was recently married and had just begun his first day of training in Pickens, but served as a deputy of Forsyth County. The training program was a part of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center-Pickens Law Enforcement Academy where Englett was with three other Deputies from Forsyth.

According to an official release from Forsyth County Sheriff Ron Freeman, “Spencer suffered a traumatic medical event during training and collapsed. Medical personnel and first responders on scene, as well as his fellow Forsyth County Deputies, immediately administered aid to Deputy Englett.”

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron H. Freeman

Forsyth County Sheriff Ron H. Freeman

Englett was transported to Piedmont Mountainside Hospital for what Freeman called “heroic efforts” in his care. However, Englett was unable to be revived.

Sheriff’s Offices across North Georgia and the state are offering up their condolences and mourning as his “family in blue” alongside his wife and family at home.

Englett had served with Forsyth County since May 2017 and Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office before that. Freeman stated, “Deputy Englett served Forsyth County with distinction and honor and remains well respected by his peers.”

 

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