JASPER, Ga. – It’s not Veterans’ Day, but you might think it was if you were in Pickens County on August 9 as they finally dedicated their long-awaited Veterans Memorial next to Lee Newton Park.
Situated at the edge of the parking lot on Stegall Drive, the Memorial opened for the public with an official dedication at 11:00 a.m. The dedication saw the colors of each military branch set in honor at the site while veterans and members of the American Legion hung the American Flag over the memorial. While several people offered words to sanctify the grounds, they added an offering of the 21-Gun Salute and “Taps,” as well.
The ceremony’s impact was only dwarfed by the size of the crowd that attended the day to offer thanks and respect to those who served. Most of them are veterans or have veterans in their family, a fact noted when a speaker asked these people to raise their hands during his speech.
One of those veterans is Al Parson Larson. At 90-years-old, Larson says he served on the USS Astoria, a light cruiser, in World War II. The day’s events held a certain somberness throughout, but meeting Larson punctuated the event as he confessed it would be the last time he would ever wear his uniform. It has been 70 years since Larson last wore his uniform in the line of duty. He says he has reached the point where it is just too difficult to get it on. He chuckled a moment before saying, “At least it still fits.”
Attending the event with his son, Larson was one of the few attending the event in uniform, and hundreds more who bore caps, shirts, and more signifying their service. But this photo, according to him, will be one of the last photos ever taken of him dressed out.
Veterans Memorial Park holds 5 smaller monuments in individual bricked in areas becoming part of the larger memorial that hosts bricks of honor for those who wish to purchase them in order to help build, expand, and maintain the memorial. Hoping to extend these bricks across the hillside, they confirmed they are still selling the bricks and will continue selling them indefinitely.
One speaker noted that 1% of Americans have served in the military, but looking at Pickens County, 12% of those in the county are veterans. Looking at this statistic, it has long been a need to honor that large portion of the community. But the honor is for all those who serve. The memorial has been a long time needed and a long time coming, but today it is finished. It stands as this county’s tribute for those in service.
Summing up the day’s feelings, John Trammell, President and CEO of Community Bank of Pickens County, said, “Vets, thank you for bravely doing what you were called to do so we can safely do what we are free to do.”
Make sure to check out more photos of the day at FYN’s Facebook Page.
JASPER, Ga. – Addressing the 2019 LMIG (Local Maintenance & Improvement Grant), the Pickens County Board of Commissioners Work Session discussed the project at their August Work Session as to what they could accomplish on the list.
The list, used for the discussion, totaled $2,083,467 estimated in materials cost for every one of the forty-one roads included. The list is prioritized according to Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones.
While the board estimates close to $577,000 from the grant, they also noted the increasing prices of asphalt saying the slight increase in funding over last year would not even cover the cost difference.
Jones said in the meeting they would be looking to fund the difference in the LMIG and the rest of their paving would come from SPLOST. However, the list as it stands is for discussion and subject to change before their final decisions coming at the August 16 Regular Session.
The list as it stands is as follows:
Jasper, Ga. – The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office has arrested and released reports for warrants and booking for one Charles Daniel Hamrick.
According to the Arrest Warrant, Hamrick is accused of using his position as a peace officer to convince a person to send nude and semi-nude photos to him. The offense violates his oath as a public officer.
The warrant alleges that Hamrick convinced a lady that she was a confidential informant for him and that she could have potential criminal charges brought against her. He then allegedly told her that he had destroyed her confidential informant file in return for the photos.
Having been arrested and booked on the charges, Hamrick has since paid a $1,000 bond and been released. As the official charge states Violation of Oath by Public Officer, it is charged as “a violation of the Oath taken by Hamrick as a Deputy with the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the Deputy Commander of the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force…”
JASPER, Ga – Arrested on June 24 for charges including cruelty to children and false imprisonment, Neil Roger Farrell and Janet Lynn Farrell met for a hearing on setting Bond for the couple pending their criminal case.
Facing allegations of confining their daughter Olivia to a bedroom with limited restroom break and periods where she was simply given a bucket as well as allegations of striking Olivia on her feet with industrial size glue sticks, the Farrells have already attended a bond hearing in late June. At that time the defense asked for and was granted a continuance for the case. The court reconvened at the Pickens County Courthouse, Superior Court, under Judge Frank Mills on July 18 at 10 a.m.
Lasting until after 6 p.m., the case’s arguments centered on the possibility of setting a bond for the Farrells or not. The prosecution requested denial of any bond while the defense requested a $50,000 bond for each defendant. Both Neil and Janet are being represented separately in the case by Scott T. Poole, of Grisham & Poole, and J. Daran Burns, of Burns Law Group, P.C.
District Attorney for the Appalachian Circuit, B. Alison Sosebee, presented the case against the Farrells with two witnesses, Captain April Killian and Detective Michael Jaques. The state contends that evidence indicates that Olivia Farrell, adopted daughter of the defendants was confined to her room with the door lock reversed, so she could not leave at will, as well as a contact alarm on the door that would sound if it was opened.
They also allege that Olivia was beaten on her buttocks and feet with 10-inch, industrial glue sticks. An allegation that Sosebee says was corroborated by Neil Farrell’s own admission as well as from the couple’s other daughters.
After Olivia went missing, officers were told by the Farrells that Olivia suffers from a disorder known as Reactive Attachment Disorder (RAD)as well as Fetal Alcohol Syndrome (FAS) since before they adopted her, this plays into the charge of Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults.
With the bond hearing focused directly on the idea of setting a bond for the defendants in the case, the day focused on if the courts should allow the Farrells out of jail on bond until the official case commences.
One of the prosecutions main points for denying bond was concern over the defendants tampering with evidence. With evidence of video footage collected in the house from security cameras set up to monitor Olivia’s room, the prosecution stated that the Farrells had removed everything from Olivia’s room as punishment for her stealing her sisters ipad. However, once they discovered her missing, they went back to the room and put everything they had removed back into the room before searching and eventually having a gate guard call 911 to report the missing person. They claim this as the Farrells having already tampered with evidence as they took time to return all the furniture and items to her room before contacting the police, further delaying their own search as well as an official police response and search for the child.
Further, the prosecution offered up a witness, Cpt. April Killian of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. Killian has been a part of the search and investigation and testified that when officers found Olivia, she said she did not want to go back home. As the police began interviewing her, they began discovering points of the case. Killian also testified that when she returned to the residence on June 24, the cameras in Olivia’s room had been moved.
When the Farrells arrived at the Pickens County Detention Center after Olivia had been found and were waiting in the lobby, Killian noticed the couple were utilizing their electronic devices. After getting a search warrant for the devices, officers confiscated these devices and downloaded the devices. Yielding 23,000 pages of data in messages and photos and other data, Killian noted a few of the messages found. Later in the case, investigations into the phones usage at the time the Farrells were at the jail revealed they were looking at GPS monitors and ankle monitors.
Continuing the argument of tampering with evidence, the prosecution points to an email sent from Janet Farrell to Ashlyn, the Farrells oldest daughter. The email instructs several things in an itemized list. One of these items instructs the daughter to, as read in the courtroom, “go onto my FB account and deactivate it, and if anything on there is bad due to news on my wall delete for me…” The email also gives information and passwords to accounts including the Arlo Camera account, the security cameras placed in Olivia’s room.
Killian also testified that when she turned on one of the Farrells laptop seized during the investigation, an email program popped up. She noticed the number of emails in the inbox decreasing as she looked at the screen. As if the emails were being deleted. Killian says she turned off the laptop and waited “a substantial amount of time” and then turned it back on. At that time, the loss of messages did not continue.
Moving past the concerns of evidence tampering, Sosebee told the court that the prosecution was also concerned with the possible flight risks of the Farrells if bonded out before the trial.
The prosecution’s second witness, Detective Michael Jaques testified that he dealt with four search warrants into the Farrell’s home. When he entered the home on July 6, Jaques said he noticed the office was not in the same way it was on previous searches. He noticed a black backpack on the floor open. Inside he found checkbooks and passports for the family except for Olivia.
While he was unaware of who had been in the office and gotten into the pack, a later witness, Jezekiel Vanderdecker, admitted he had gone to the house at the request of Neil Farrell to get a checkbook and glasses out of that pack. The state alluded to this being additional evidence to tampering as well as a show of intent and means to flee the country if allowed a bond. However, in Vanderdecker’s testimony, he could not recall if he had seen passports in the bag or not.
The state also put forth financial records for the Farrells as evidence of substantial means for leaving the country. The financial reports presented for observation by the court confirmed the Farrels income into the hundreds of thousands over the last two years as well as a brokerage account close to $1 million. They also presented tax assessors reports on the Farrells property into the hundreds of thousands. Additional reports indicated foreign income and “ties” to foreign countries that could indicate aid in escaping the county.
The prosecution noted that the Farrell’s eldest daughter is also a missionary in Papua New Guinea as well as several trips the Farrells had taken during their life as expertise in travel and previous experience in traveling to Australia and other locations. Stating that the numerous trips and connections to the countries could also make it easier to flee, the prosecution adamantly asserted that the flight risk of the Farrells was substantial.
The state also alluded to concerns about the Farrells intimidating witnesses and affecting testimonies. While they indicated much of the allegations against the Farrells including the use of the industrial gluesticks that had been used on Olivia. They also noted that other daughters had corroborated the stories. While it was not stated specifically, the state could call upon these daughters to testify in the trial about these allegations and their witness to the actions.
A joint defense was presented during the case on behalf of Scott Poole and Daran Burns during the day. Providing six witnesses of their own, the defenses main contention in favor of bond was an overwhelming show of support from the Farrells community as to their character and trustworthiness to appear in trial after a bonding out of jail. Also responding to many of the points the prosecution had made, the defense presented their case to say that the Farrells were, in fact, so rooted in their community spiritually, interpersonally, and financially, that they would never think of running, but needed the time and space to prepare their case with access to their lawyers not limited by the detention center.
Responding to the state’s concerns of tampering with evidence, the defense questioned Killian what the Sheriff’s Office had left to do in the investigation. Pointing to the electronic devices and data that Killian said was still being gone through, the defense asked Killian where the data was located. Killian responded by saying that most of the data was on hard drives and flash drives. The defense suggested these devices were in police custody and out of reach of the Farrells. Additionally, they noted that the Arlo camera footage account had had its passwords changed by authorities and could not be accessed by the Farrells.
They noted the email the prosecution presented with Janet instructing her daughter to deactivate her Facebook account saying that the email was a preemptive move to protect herself against social media. They stated that the deactivation of an account does not delete the account, and they noted that the email was simply asking the daughter to delete any posts that may have been mean or hurtful words against her. It was not an attempt to tamper, but rather an attempt to protect her reputation.
Killian also stated that the continuing investigation would likely result in further interviews being necessary with those involved in the case. A fact the prosecution suggested could be an opportunity for the Farrells to affect or intimidate such testimony. The defense’s responded that most of the people involved had already been interviewed and if new information was found, it would be reinterviewing people that have, at this point, already gone on record with recorded testimonies that they cannot change. They continued saying that most of the witnesses of the prosecution would be officers, suggesting that they could not be intimidated by the Farrells.
As for the financial status of the Farrells, Poole noted that simple means of escape cannot be assumed as a substantial threat of escape. The defense went on to say that the success of Neil’s business and the Farrells financial status were actually roots tieing them here. The prosecution’s suggestion of foreign ties because of $5,000 in foreign income was a ludicrous assumption without supporting evidence. The finances also indicate over $100,000 in charitable giving. The defense even called a witness, Joel Barrere, pastor of Life Bible Church in Holly Springs, who affirmed the Farrells were faithful attendees as well as faithful givers to the church.
The defense asserted that the financial means available would not have been so heavily spent on their defense, such as hiring two law firms to represent them, if they had plans to flee.
Providing 5 other witnesses to affirm their belief in the Farrell’s connections and efforts in the community, the defense also offered numerous written statements to add weight to the assertion that the Farrells are actually grounded into their community both financially and interpersonally.
Marshall Thomas, a fellow church member at one time, noted he also had a child with Reactive Attachment Disorder. He testified in his time spent with the Farrells never caused him concern and called them “good, loving parents.” He went on to testify that he had never seen them discipline any of their children without cause.
He did testify that corporal punishment was not a good idea with his child suffering from RAD, saying that the child would not respond well to it. He noted that kids with RAD could potentially develop deep or inappropriate relationships with people. He noted that it would be a great cause for concern if Olivia was walking alone across the county.
Asking each of the witnesses if they had any reason to believe the Farrells would not show up for court if let out on bond, if they had any reason to believe the Farrells would intimidate witnesses or commit a crime, and if they would have concerns with continuing their relationships with the Farrells. With all six confirming their trust and connections with the Farrells, the defense set their point of the quality of the Farrell’s integrity in the community.
The prosecution revealed details of the allegations to the witnesses asking if it caused the witnesses concern to learn of the details, an action that the defense pointed to in their argument saying the prosecution twisted witness testimonies with unproven allegations. They continued saying that the Farrells were more than willing to voluntarily surrender their passports and submit to any conditions the court would place on bond.
At the end of the day, Judge Frank Mills returned to the court with his ruling on the bond hearing. He did preempt his ruling with explanations saying that he could see the Farrells possibly tampering with evidence or thwarting the investigations, but not so far as to intimidate witnesses that are now protected. However, he would not deny bond on that point alone. He went on to say that he could not find that they would not likely flee. He stated he based this decision not just on means and capability, but on past experience and passports readily available. He did state, “I don’t know of many defendants that I’ve had that have more knowledge about how to do things than these defendants, both in terms of knowledge of computers and finding information about computers and propensity to do so… also in having the experience in traveling outside the country, the connections outside the country, and the passports readily available.”
Judge Mills went on to say that he believed that the fears of tampering with evidence and fears of leaving the country could be alleviated with conditions on the bond. Stating “being out is better than being in,” Judge Mills ruled to set bond at $100,000 each for Neil and Janet Farrell, but also with set conditions set: Surrender Passports, no internet access, GPS monitoring, home confinement, and no contact allowed with the victim or witnesses for the state. The Judge did note that he would alleviate the no internet access after 60-days with the ability of either side to request a change later.
There will be details worked out among the attorney on how to deal with the internet access restrictions and how to have Janet taken to a doctor for existing medical conditions.
JASPER, Ga. – The Bond hearing for Neil Roger Farrell, 56, and Janet Lynn Farrell, 54, began today as they face charges in the case of Olivia Farrell.
However, the Bond Hearing has not reached a conclusion yet as the defense requested, and was granted, a continuance by Superior Court Judge Mary Beth Priest.
Both defendants are charged with Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults, False Imprisonment, and 2 counts of Cruelty to Children in the 1st Degree. The bond hearing was originally set for 2:00 p.m. today, June 28, to be heard by Magistrate Court. However, a release from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office yesterday announced the hearing had changed to 10:00 a.m. to be heard by the Superior Court.
The day began with a delay as the defense requested an extra ten minutes to discuss matters with their clients and the prosecution. Both Attorneys for the prosecution and defense approached the bench twice during the delay as well.
Upon returning, an official motion was made for a continuance. According to the defense, the trial came up so quickly that they were unable to have all the supporters and preparation that they would have wanted for the bond hearing. While it was admitted that a continuation on a bond hearing is unusual, the request was made and granted based on the quick hearing and the changes to the hearing made only the day before.
However, as attempts were made to schedule the continuance, a specific date around the coming holiday week could not be reached immediately. Judge Priest did note that she was not assigned the case and another judge could hear it. With that in mind, she left the prosecution and defense to settle on a date and to schedule it with the appropriate judge.
Though no date has been set at this time, FYN will continue to offer updates when made available.
Pickens County Georgia, June 26, 2018: On Saturday, June 23rd at approximately 5:00 pm, Olivia Farrell went missing from her residence in Bent Tree Community within Pickens County. Olivia is 18 years old and it was reported she had Behavioral / Emotional Disorders. She left the area on foot and it was unknown at the time if she was picked up or not.
The Pickens Sheriff’s Office worked with Pickens County Fire and EMS teams, the Public Safety Division of Bent Tree Community, the Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office and Georgia State Patrol Aviation units to search the area throughout the night and into the next day. In addition to local searches, detectives with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office worked with family and other known individuals to look at any and all possible locations. FetchYourNews received notification on June 24th at approximately noon, that Farrell was found and was safe.
FYN received a release earlier today, June 26th, this missing person incident resulted in the arrest of two individuals for significant abuse charges.
Pickens County Georgia, June 24, 2018: Pickens Sheriff’s Office detectives arrest parents of a teen following an extensive missing person search over the weekend in Pickens County. On Saturday (June 23rd), deputies were dispatched to the residence of Neil and Janet Farrell regarding a missing and possibly endangered person. The Farrell’s reported that their 18-year-old daughter, Olivia, had walked into the woods hours before and they had been unable to locate her. The Farrells also stated that their daughter had a variety of behavioral issues that placed her in jeopardy. The parents also detailed that they had been granted active adult guardianship over Olivia.
What followed was an extensive search of the gated community and surrounding areas that lasted through the night and into the following day. While the search was ongoing, detectives continued to work closely with the family to gather information to assist in locating Olivia and determine what risks may exist regarding her physical and mental health. During the search and investigation, detectives discovered several areas of concern relating to the treatment and discipline of their missing daughter. Some of these included the use of video recording equipment inside of the daughter’s room, a lock on the door that prevented her from leaving the bedroom, and the lack of any personal affects within the room.
After a nearly 20-hour search, deputies were dispatched to a residence in the City of Nelson, approximately 15 miles away, stating that an individual fitting the description of the missing girl. Deputies were able to confirm that she had been walking through the night and she was brought to the
Pickens Sheriff’s Office to be evaluated. In addition, she was provided food and clothing. During the investigation, evidence was gathered that indicated that a common form of discipline had been for her to be locked into her bedroom for varying periods of time, ranging from days to months.
During some of these time periods, she would only be provided meals and very limited opportunities to use a restroom. If restroom breaks were needed outside of these time periods, on at least one “grounding period”, she was provided a bucket in the room. In addition to being locked in the room, the Farrells would also use video and audio recorders to monitor all her activity inside of the room. These forms of punishment would also be accompanied with other forms of punishment that included a method to beat the soles of her feet to prevent visible bruising.
Following the gathering of information, detectives placed Neil and Janet Farrell under arrest and they were booked into the Pickens County Adult Detention Center. Detectives also worked closely with the Court System and Adult Protective Services to have Olivia placed in a safe environment where she could begin receiving aid and assistance. Pictured below L – R:
Neil Roger Farrell (Age 56) 382 Buckeye Trail (Bent Tree Subdivision) Jasper, Ga 30143 Janet Lynn Farrell (Age 54) Same address as Neil
Both Neil and Janet are currently charged with Exploitation and Intimidation of Disabled Adults, False Imprisonment, and 2 counts of Cruelty to Children in the 1st Degree. The case is still being actively investigated and additional charges may be forthcoming. A Bond Hearing has been scheduled for both in Courtroom D of the Pickens County Courthouse on Thursday, June 28th at 10:00 am.
Work to begin soon on four signal upgrades in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties
- ELLIJAY, Ga. – Work could begin soon on a signal upgrade project in at various location in Fannin, Gilmer and Pickens counties. Georgia DOT has just awarded a contract to World Fiber Technologies, LLC. of Land O Lake, Florida, valued at close to a million dollars for a construction project to upgrade the signals at four intersections in these three counties. The project includes a complete signal upgrade with pedestrian accommodation for every intersection. This would bring these intersections up to ADA requirements and replace old signal parts in place. The four intersections are at the following locations:
- State Route (SR) 515 at Ballewtown Road in Fannin County
- SR 52 at SR 2/River Street in Gilmer County
- SR 53 Business at Main Street in Pickens County
- SR 53 Business at Sammy McGhee Blvd in Pickens County
“This project and others like it in northwest Georgia add up to these two things- better and safer mobility and a better quality of life for all the area residents,” said Grant Waldrop, assistant district engineer at the Georgia DOT office in Cartersville.
This signal upgrade project is scheduled to be completed by the end of June 2019, at a construction cost of $736,739. Information on construction and lane closure schedules on this project will be forthcoming before work begins.
More details on this and other projects in the Department’s most recent bid awards are available via Award Announcement Download at: https://www.bidx.com/ga/lettin
The Georgia Department of Transportation continues its 2018 construction program. Dozens of important roadway improvement projects are ongoing this summer throughout northwest Georgia as we work to deliver projects on time and on budget while keeping our transportation network the nation’s finest. Pardon the necessary inconvenience and please drive cautiously and safely at all times, especially in work zones.
The public is urged to “know before you go.” For real-time information on active construction, incidents and more, call 511 or visit www511ga.org before you get into your car.
Roadway work zones are hazardous for workers and for the public. In fact, most fatalities in work zones crashes are drivers or passengers. Obey the rules in work zones – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers. And always, expect the unexpected. It can make the difference between life and death. Remember – work zone safety is in your hands. For information on the Department of Transportation, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov. You also may like us on Facebook(https://www.facebook.com/GDOT
NATIONAL HIV TESTING DAY
North GA – Why should you get an HIV test?
Because, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), about one in seven people in the United States are HIV positive and they don’t know it. If you are age 13 to 64, you should get tested for HIV at least once. *People at higher risk should get tested more often.
National HIV Testing Day on Wednesday, June 27th is your opportunity in North Georgia to get HIV tested for FREE at your local public health department in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield Counties or at The Living Bridge Center in Dalton. Just go to www.nghd.org to find your health department or The Living Bridge Center hours of operation, phone number and location, or call the North Georgia Health District at (706) 529-5757.
Our HIV testing is fast, safe and confidential.
National HIV Testing Day is an annual occasion to encourage people to get an HIV test. CDC recommends that everyone between the ages of 13 and 64 get tested for HIV at least once as part of routine health care. *People with certain risk factors should get tested more often. People who test HIV positive can take medicines to stay healthy and greatly reduce their chance of transmitting the virus. People who test negative can continue to take steps to prevent HIV infection, such as always using a condom during sex.