School threat deemed “not viable”

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JASPER, Ga. – Despite a heavy increase in social media traffic about Pickens County High School, Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson has confirmed with FYN as of 11:15 a.m. today, November 9, that no incidents or viable threats of such have occurred on school grounds.

A press release from the School System assured citizens that what was called a threat by some was investigated and the school is responding in spite of an investigation clearing the threat. Wilson stated that last night, the Pickens County School System became aware of potential threats on the high school. The press release stated, “After discussing last night’s investigation with the Sheriff, we have determined that the social media threat is not credible.”

Despite the investigation, the two entities have agreed to increase the Sheriff’s presence on school grounds throughout today and tonight to be safe. When FYN inquired further about the issue, Wilson said there was never a threat against the school itself, but instead was two students saying things and “posturing” against each other when friends and classmates became involved. As the two students became threatening each other, the issue blew up over social media including at least Facebook, Snapchat, and Instagram.

Not even considered a bullying incident, Wilson said, “They have just had some history with each other. They’ve not gotten along.”

As the Sheriff’s office investigated the viability of these threats and mentions of weapons, Wilson said they found the students did not have access to such and have since cleared the threat. Though Wilson said there has not been disciplinary action at this time, he did say the school is remaining on the increased security today and is taking threats involving the schools seriously.

Read the school’s press release as follows:

After discussing last night’s investigation with the Sheriff, we have determined that the social media threat is not credible. However, in an abundance of caution,
there will be an increased security presence on the High School campus tomorrow. We would like to thank the Sheriff and his staff for their vigilance in
addressing this matter.

Information will be posted on the Pickens County School District website at www.pickenscountyschools.org, the Infinite Campus parent portal, district social media sites, and sent to local media.

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 10/31 to 11/06

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.

Sheriff’s budget in question for 2019

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JASPER, Ga. – A full extra mil on taxes, that is what citizens could expect if no cuts are made to the over $1.1 million difference between the 2018 and 2019 budgets for the Sheriff’s office.

The difference accrues over a loss of revenue including an end to the housing inmates from Sandy Springs in the Pickens Detention Center as well as $448,043 increases in the Sheriff’s Administration, Uniform Patrol, Detention Center, and School Resource Officers areas alone.

Although the budget already had at least one point ready to cut as it covered two contingencies involving either continuing overtime pay for certain staff or hiring new employees to spread the work among them. Craig noted there are 11 openings in the office that he is seeking to fill.

Like the other offices and departments, the Sheriff’s Office is seeking the 2.5% increase in salaries for employees. There are other increases such as repairs and maintenance in the office as Craig says some of the older cruisers are showing their age, with some vehicles dating back to 1996.

While the county is attempting to push some of the costs like newer vehicles among other things into the county’s next SPLOST cycle, there are many things that Craig said need immediate attention. He also noted that many of the increases involve things the Sheriff’s Office can’t control saying, “I can’t cut employees, and I can’t cut the services we have.”

He also noted increases to the demands on the office including 37,000 in call volume in this year alone. He said there hasn’t been a major increase in staffing in recent years despite doubling the call volume in the last decade.

Plans for an additional School Resource Officer and upgrading computer systems are just a small part of the changes coming. But citizens need not wait until next year to see them beginning as December will see the office going live with the upgraded Caliber System. Next year will see the $117,965 payment for the system, though.

As the Board of Commissioners are still working on the budgets, the Sheriff’s Office is working along with them to deeper analyze the office’s revenue and expenses. Chairman Jones did note that he believed the county could handle up to a $300,000 increase in the budget without needing to change the millage rate.

FYN reached out to Chairman Jones to ask when the last time a major increase like this occurred in the county’s budget. He replied saying that the county raised the Sheriff’s budget three years ago by about $700,000 to cover inadequate salaries.

If approved as is, the Sherriff’s budget will reach $7,092,649. For comparison, Pickens’ northern neighbors, Gilmer County’s Sheriff’s Budget is proposed for 2019 to total $5,673,394, that’s $1,419,255 less for a county of similar size and population.

However, this is still early in the budget process for Pickens County. As both the Board of Commissioners and the Sheriff’s Office have agreed to continue working on the budget, citizens can continue to stay informed through the county’s work session, Thursday, November 1, and special called meetings that may arise in the coming month.

One thing to note as talks continue and a final budget is set. Though discussed and agreed to under the county budget meetings, it is ultimately the Sheriff’s budget and responsibility as the elected official in 2019.

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 09/29 to 10/12

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.

Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 09/18 to 09/28

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.

Wilson says, “We will charge them” in Vaping Presentation

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JASPER, Ga. – District Attorney Alison Sosebee offered her presentation to parents that she has been showing to students this week. As a part of the chat with the superintendent program on September 24, Sosebee and Pickens Sheriff Donnie Craig joined in to inform parents about the vaping trend and the school’s responses.

Going through the same presentation as the one she offers the students, the only alterations came when Sheriff Craig added the Drug Task Forces formal response and when Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson offered the school systems official reply. Following along the same lines of thought, students and parents should begin expecting full repercussions on possession, use, and sharing of vaping devices as drug paraphernalia when viable instead of being treated like possessing cigarettes.

Sosebee also released information about those who came into contact with a substance that hospitalized five in a warrant on A1 Smoke Shop. The substance, identified as “Panaca,” a synthetic cannabinoid substance that is labeled as a “Schedule I Drug.” Sosebee compared this to Methamphetamine, a “Schedule II Drug.” She went on to note that this identifies synthetic marijuana, like that found in the smoke shop, is comparatively worse than Meth.

Wilson noted that the students have also been told that the consequences of vaping in school is increasing, and additional information from Sheriff Craig noted that criminal charges of this caliber could still involve 15 years in prison in the case of Schedule I Drugs.

As seen in the video, much of the night was spent attempting to inform parents and citizens about the issue, it was noted that the school system is taking a hard stance against the trend. Continuing to point to the fact that some may or may not know what is in the vape devices they use, authorities point to the commonality of hard drugs found across the nation in these devices as reasoning to utilize the full consequences made available in both the school’s code of conduct and criminal law to dissuade students from using these devices.

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Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Arrest Report 09/03 to 09/16

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.

Substance at vape shop hospitalizes five

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Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office

Jasper, Ga – Authorities have met a major incident as they executed a search warrant at the local A1 Smoke Shop in Jasper, Georgia.

During the execution of the search warrant today, September 14, members of the Drug Task Force, Pickens Sheriff’s Office, and Jasper City Police were exposed to an unidentified substance that immediately brought down one detective. Others also became exposed in attempts to help treat the detective. According to an official release by Sgt. Jody Weaver, Administrative Services Division of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, “As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.”

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff's Office

Photos courtesy of the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office

Unconfirmed reports indicate the substance may have been made airborne during the search, but reports at this time indicate the exposure is not life-threatening.

According to their official release, “The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire.”

Additionally, authorities have closed businesses in close proximity to the location and evacuated citizens from the area for safety.

With Haz-Mat teams investigating the substances, authorities are declining to release certain details of the active investigation, but indicate that they will be releasing more information about the incident later.

With the recent rise of vaping devices being used to inhale drugs ranging from Methamphetamines to THC Oil to Synthetic Marijuana, it is likely this warrant could be part of an official response to the trend in our schools, though no official statement identifies why they were executing a search warrant. The District Attorney’s office is currently undertaking a series of assemblies at the middle and high schools of Pickens, Fannin, and Gilmer.

At this point, it is actually quite common to find controlled substances in vape devices across America, especially in schools as reports continue to flood the media about students falling unconscious or having severe reactions, even seizures because of what they may or may not know they are inhaling.

See the full media release below:

“Pickens County law enforcement have encountered a suspected unknown powder substance during execution of a search warrant – Deputies and other public safety adversely affected.”

On the morning of Friday, September 14, 2018, the Drug Task Force, along with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office and the City of Jasper Police Department executed a search warrant at the A-1 Smoke Shop located at 684 West Church Street in Jasper, Georgia. During the search of the premises, a Detective with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office came in contact with an unknown substance which immediately resulted in the Detective experiencing adverse health conditions and symptoms. The affected Detective was transported to the local hospital for immediate treatment. Public safety personnel who were exposed while treating the affected Detective also began experiencing similar reactions. As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.

The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire. Businesses in close proximity to the location have been evacuated as a safety precaution, and Haz-Mat teams are preparing to enter the premises to thoroughly investigate and identify the cause of the health issues with our public safety personnel.

As this is an active investigation, more information will be provided as it becomes available.

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