Over the last week and a half BKP and I have been going from school to school interviewing head football coaches for our North Georgia Coaching Series. Now if any of y’all know BKP, you’ll know what I mean when I say that he’s been doing most of the talking and I’ve been doing most of the observing. But this doesn’t bother me, it gives me a chance to learn more about the programs I’ll be spending a lot of time with this fall.
With that being said, there’s one thing in particular I’ve been noticing in our interviews, and that’s how much these coaches truly care about their players and their programs.
Now me saying that might make some of y’all think, “Well, duh. That’s what they’re supposed to do.” Well, maybe. But I like to think I’m pretty good at picking up when someone is just putting on an act for appearances. And I can say with all sincerity that none of these coaches are doing that.
Obviously when BKP and I go into these interviews, he asks questions about what the teams have been doing during the summer and how they’re planning to prepare for the regular season. But he also asks the coaches if they can highlight a few players that have really stood out. This point in the interview, I believe, is where a coach who didn’t care would possibly just say a couple names and move on.
But these coaches not only name the players, they tell us about why they stand out. And it’s a sign of the hard work of these athletes, but there’s also a sense of pride from these coaches as they name them. A couple of coaches have mentioned that it’s hard to name just a few, because all of their players have worked hard. And it’s not that the rest of the team doesn’t matter or that they don’t care about them, but the ones that they mention they do so without hesitation because they’ve been there with them through the summer truly coaching them. There’s no so-so about the commitment these coaches make- they’re all in.
Another thing that has amazed me about these coaches, not just in the interviews but learning about them off the field, is how much they care about their community as well. A couple of them, such as Chad Cheatham at Fannin County and Chad McClure at Hayesville, are natives to their communities. It’s home to them, and they’re not going to be just halfway in their commitments to their programs.
When Coach Caleb Sorrells of the Lumpkin County Indians was first named as head coach, the school hosted a meet and greet for him. It was one of the first stories I covered in this position.
In his address to the parents, Sorrells promised to not only invest in the team as players and athletes, but as men who would one day be employees and fathers. I remember being caught off guard at first because I was expecting him to talk about plans for the future of the program, the summer schedule and what not. He did talk about these things, but I believe by telling the parents that he was going to invest in the players as men showed that it was going to be a priority.
Although I know more about the commitment that Sorrells has made because I’m positioned in Lumpkin County, he’s not the only one in the area who gets involved in the community and works to build up the athletes’ character.
Tim Cokely with the White County Warriors has an entire wall of his office decorated with signs of good character qualities to instill in the team. Chad Cheatham, who I mentioned earlier, referees basketball in the football off-season just because, and the community loves him for it. I’m sure that many of the other coaches in the area do similar things and I just don’t know about it yet.
These are commitments that we see played out by coaches in movies and don’t always think to look for in real life. And because I grew up in Gwinnett County, population one million, if there was this sort of commitment by coaches I didn’t always see it because there were so many people. I love living up here in North Georgia in a smaller community where an act of kindness, especially where sports are concerned, rarely goes unnoticed.
We think about football as a sport that instills a since of discipline, but why is that? Because there’s a coach that sets that standard and inspires the team to do the same. As a community we love football and we love our team, and we can thank a coach for that.
ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.
Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.
However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.
While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”
Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic, both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”
Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.
Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”
Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”
President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.
Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.
Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.
(The following is a Press Release from the Office of David Ralston, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives.)
ELLIJAY, Ga. – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) today announced that the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation has opened a North Georgia Office in Ellijay. The office is located in the Collaboration on River’s Edge (CORE) Building, a workplace innovation space and initiative of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
“I am proud to welcome the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation to Ellijay and look forward to the good work that will be done to further economic opportunity throughout rural Georgia,” said Speaker David Ralston. “This center is a direct result of the work of the House Rural Development Council and our continuing efforts to ensure prosperity is accessible to all Georgians – regardless of zip code.”
The center, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, has named Janet Cochran to lead the North Georgia Office. Cochran comes to the center with more than a decade of experience as a project manager with the Georgia Department of Economic Development.
“Finding ways to not only maintain but to multiply the economic and cultural vitality present in so many of north Georgia’s small towns and rural communities relies heavily on relationships,” said Dr. David Bridges, Georgia’s Rural Center interim director, “and we know that our presence and personnel there will only improve our ability to facilitate positive outcomes. Janet brings a wealth of experience in managing economic development projects in this region of the state, and we’re excited to have her join our team in this role at the North Georgia Office.”
Headquartered at Abraham Baldwin Agricultural College in Tifton, the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
“Promoting a strong business environment that enhances the quality of our community is not just the chamber’s mission in words, it is behind everything we do. The opening of CORE and the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation is a cornerstone moment in that mission and one that we have worked tirelessly to support and create for many years. I join with our 650 members in celebrating,” remarked John Marshall, Gilmer Chamber Chairman of the Board.
“As chairman of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation it has been our goal as a private, citizen funded organization to help spur economic growth for our community and region. CORE being the home to the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office brings our vision to reality. We look forward to continuing to serve our communities for years to come,” said Kent Sanford, Chairman of the Board.
“Working with Speaker of the House David Ralston and the House leadership to bring the Center for Rural Prosperity and Innovation North Georgia office to our community will have economic impact to the entire region. We look forward to continuing to work to insure the success of the center and all of our partners within CORE,” remarked Lex Rainey, Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority Chairman of the Board.
Located in Gilmer County, Ellijay is a thriving rural community in the North Georgia mountains, offering a unique blend of southern hospitality and natural beauty. The area leads Georgia in apple production and is a center for agribusiness and agritourism.
For more information about the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, visit http://www.ruralga.org/.
PRESS RELEASE FROM PIEDMONT MOUNTAINSIDE
Jasper, Ga. (April 16, 2019) – From 1999 to 2010, opioid-related deaths in Georgia increased by 500 percent. In 2016, there were close to 1,000 deaths involving opioids in the state and those numbers are continuing to increase. Facing those statistics and knowing that all healthcare systems need to play a role in attempting to stem this epidemic, Piedmont Healthcare is examining its pain management policies and connecting its hospitals with stakeholders in the community in an effort to address this crisis.
National Drug Take Back Day, which is sponsored by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA), is Saturday, April 27, and will feature activities between 10 a.m. and 2 p.m. Local law enforcement agencies will provide a safe, convenient and responsible way to dispose of unused or expired prescription drugs. The majority of teenagers abusing prescription drugs get them from the home medicine cabinet. Using pharmaceutical drugs without a prescription or a doctor’s supervision can lead to accidental poisoning, overdose and abuse.
“One of the most important things we can do as individuals, especially as we try to protect our families and children, is to dispose of unused, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs,” said Piedmont Mountainside CEO Denise Ray. “That’s why we’re supporting the efforts of our local public safety departments and letting our employees know about National Drug Take Back Day and what they can do on a personal level.”
In 2018, Take Back Day brought in more than 900,000 pounds of unused or expired prescription medication. Disposing of those drugs safely keeps them off the streets and protects the environment as well. On its website for Take Back Day, the DEA has a collection site locator that allows individuals to find the closest take back sites to where they live: https://takebackday.dea.gov/.
Throughout its 11 hospitals, Piedmont will be coordinating with various local law enforcement and public health agencies on Take Back Day.
From a system level, Piedmont, the largest healthcare provider in Georgia, convened an Opioids Task Force in 2018 and is seeking to provide patients with optimal pain management while preventing the potential for opioid abuse. One of the key tenets to Piedmont’s plan is to increase education and awareness among both patients and staff. There are times when the use of opioids is appropriate and necessary, but Piedmont’s new protocols, created by its physician leaders in consultation with clinical staff, will consider non-opioids and alternate pain management modalities such as topical therapy, local injections, massage, physical therapy and more. Piedmont will also focus on establishing system-wide standardization and coordination of prescribing protocols in key risk areas.
“It is important to reduce the stigma around opioid addiction,” said Ray. “Unfortunately this is a sweeping epidemic, one that is effecting people across the country, regardless of age, gender or ethnicity. No one person, organization, city or state can tackle it alone, but Piedmont Mountainside is proud to join our sister hospitals and play a role alongside our patients and partners in the community.”
Learn more about Piedmont at piedmont.org
JASPER, Ga. – With roughly 25 years of the annual Fish Rodeo, the city is preparing once again for this beloved event.
The Council heard the required request, and subsequently approved, for the Pickens County Sportsman Club Annual Fish Rodeo this month to allow the event in May. Sportsman Club representative Walt Cagle offered fliers to the council as he presented the request. The four-day event will see support for the community, special needs, and senior homes in the area.
Mayor John Weaver called the rodeo “a very special event” in recent years as it has been about a decade at the Cove Creek location. Cagle notes the wired off location will provide stock trout for all who wish to participate. He went on to say that the event not only serves Pickens County, but all who wish to attend and he evens sees response from senior homes in Cherokee.
The council officially provided the proclamation needed for the event to have the Georgia Department of Natural Resources to close off the creek for the event.
Cagle provided the following flier for the council and citizens for information on the event:
JASPER, Ga.- The Pickens County Board of Education met on Thursday, March 14, 2019, for their regular board meeting. During the first half of the meeting, several individuals were presented with awards on behalf of Pickens Middle School and Pickens High School.
The first was an award for the Science Fair. On Saturday, February 2, 2019, four Jasper Middle School students, all in the sixth grade, competed in the Regional Georgia Science and Engineering Fair (GSEF) against sixth to 12th graders. These students, pictured left to right, are Ellie Hollis for placing third in Plant Science, Eva Stanley for placing third in Chemical Energy, Grayson Ludington for placing second in Behavioral and Social Sciences, and Addison Lewis for placing fourth in Earth and Environmental Science.
The second award was for the Social Studies Fair. On Saturday, January 12, 2019, two Jasper Middle School students, both in the fifth grade, competed at the North West Georgia Regional Social Studies Fair in Kennesaw, Georgia. These students, pictured left to right, are Micah Newton for his project on the Dangers of Vaping and Ellison Steinhauer for her project on the Vietnam War Draft.
The third award was presented for the Helen Ruffin Reading Quiz Bowl Competiton in which Jasper Middle School fifth and sixth graders took third place against regional middle schools with sixth, seventh, and eighth graders. The fifth graders to receive this award were Ashlyn Zipse, Emily Caro, Micah Newton, and Gracie Thompson. The sixth graders to receive this award were Emily Coley, Isabel Johns, Grayson Ludington, Eva Stanley, Addy Wood, and Cody Caro. Pictured from left to right are Thompson, Stanley, Coley, Ludington, and Newton.
The final award of the night, the “Dragon Nation Enduring Flame Award” was presented to Dr. Robert Keller for his outstanding contributions to Pickens High School.
Congratulations from Fetch Your News to all who received recognition during this Board of Education meeting!
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Public Release by: Piedmont Healthcare
Atlanta, Ga. (March 13, 2019) – Piedmont Healthcare now offers Rachel’s Gift, a non-profit program that provides support and guidance services to families who have suffered the loss of an infant, at 10 of its hospital locations.
Started in 2008, Rachel’s Gift partners with hospitals to assist families through the initial phase of infant loss. In coordination with the hospital’s labor and delivery, neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) and emergency department staff, Rachel’s Gift trains on grief assistance and companioning patients through infant loss.
“Rachel’s Gift is a very special program, and we’re proud to be able to train our staff to offer the services that it provides,” said Carolene Gaster, Clinical Manager of Labor and Delivery at Piedmont Mountainside Hospital. “The program helps our local hospitals provide a healthy environment to begin the grieving process for families, while also providing lifetime keepsakes of their child. It’s a really special program.”
With Rachel’s Gift, hospital staff receives regular training written by licensed professional counselors as well as families who have experienced infant loss, educating them in the grief process. The program has training specific to NICU services, as well as services in the emergency department, helping families experiencing sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), an unexpected death that usually occurs during sleep, and families with early-term infant loss who visit the emergency room.
“It equips hospital staff with an outline to help families face the grief,” said Gaster. “Thanks to the program, these families also have access to a 24-hour hotline to call when they’re in need of assistance after they leave our care.”
Rachel’s Gift also gives families a keepsakes of their child, and families receive a package that includes items such as clay kits to collect hands and footprints of their child, a special album, a book to guide them in grieving, and information about businesses in their local community that provide free counseling and other support services that these families may need.
“It’s amazing to see our program being utilized throughout the Piedmont Healthcare system,” said Lori Beth Blaney, director of Rachel’s Gift. “Our nationally accredited training course equips staff with the tools and training to deliver compassionate patient care, while also providing a gift that gives these families special keepsakes for a lifetime reminder and a physical reminder of their child.”
Piedmont’s hospitals comprise 10 of the 27 hospitals in Georgia that offer Rachel’s Gift’s free services, and the program is available at Piedmont Atlanta, Piedmont Athens Regional, Piedmont Columbus Regional Midtown, Piedmont Fayette, Piedmont Henry, Piedmont Mountainside, Piedmont Newnan, Piedmont Newton, Piedmont Rockdale and Piedmont Walton hospitals.
For more information about maternity services at Piedmont Healthcare, visit piedmont.org.
Another busy month has passed for Pickens County with lots in store for the Summer. On May 22nd voters across the county went to the polls to vote on a variety of elections and ballot questions. The overall voter turnout of registered voters was 25.56 percent with a total of 5,101 votes cast. One local race (District One Commissioner) resulted in a runoff election that will take place on July 24th. Early voting for the runoff will be weekdays July 2-20 (excluding the July 4th holiday) at the Board of Elections. Additionally, the Chamber of Commerce helped to orchestrate a successful partnership for the BRAG (Bicycle Ride Across Georgia) that passed through town in early June. This event brought an increase of customers shopping at local establishments.
During the month of May, the Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 110 animals, and 94 animals went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 29 cases. The Department of Planning and Development issued 43 new building permits. The Water Department installed six new meters. The 911 Operations Center received 1,865 total calls, 726 were medical responses and fire related. The Recreation Department pool is now open, and several camps are ongoing throughout the Summer. To keep up to date on PCRD activities follow them on Facebook and Twitter and check out their website: pickrec.com. The Road Department is preparing to begin tar and graveling several roads across the county. They are also continuing to perform routine road maintenance. Subcontractor crews through LMIG (Local Maintenance Improvement Grant) and SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales Tax) funding are currently paving county-maintained roads within Hunters Ridge. After the crews resurface those roads, they will begin paving the remainder of the 62 roads set to be paved through LMIG. Pickens County government departments continue to stay busy working hard 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!
By: Tucker Green – Pickens County Board of Education Post Three
The holidays are approaching; the season is a time for family, fellowship, friends and giving.
While this time is a bright one for many, it is important to remember those in our community that
are not as fortunate. Every year in Pickens County various civic groups, organizations, and
helpful neighbors come together around the holidays to assist those struggling in our community.
There are many ways you can contribute to those in need during the holiday season. On Saturday
November 10 th, “A Taste of Pickens” fundraiser will occur between 11:30-1:30 at Chattahoochee
Technical College to benefit C.A.R.E.S. (local food pantry). On Thanksgiving Day, Mary Ann’s
will host their annual community Thanksgiving. If you’re interested in donating or volunteering
for the community Thanksgiving meal, contact Mary Ann’s at 706-253-2225. If you would like
to assist in providing Christmas for a foster child, contact DFCS (Heidi Smith) at 706-692-4730
or firstname.lastname@example.org. You can donate Christmas gifts to other families in need through
Toys for Tots or the Lion’s Club “Fill A Stocking” program. Additional opportunities to assist
are available throughout our community, be on the lookout to find the best way you can
contribute to our neighbors in need!
Construction on Pickens County Fire Station #12 off Carlan Road is coming along well. They’re currently finalizing the interior of the building and construction is expected to be completed at the end of the year. Equipment is scheduled to be moved in at the beginning of 2019. Additionally, the property was purchased at the NW corner of Old 5 and Worley Crossroads for the relocation of a new Tate Fire Station. Currently, plans for grading and building specifications are being put together. Construction is planned to begin in Spring of 2019. These are both SPLOST (Special-Purpose Local-Option Sales-Tax) projects and were outlined on the 2014 SPLOST plan.
During the month of October, the 911 Operations Center received 1,669 total calls, 698 were
medical responses and fire related. The Pickens Animal Shelter brought in 95 animals, and 92
animals went out through various forms of adoption. Animal Control responded to 22 cases. The
Water Department installed three new meters. The Department of Planning and Development
issued 41 new permits. Basketball registration has ended at Pickens County Recreation
Department. A total of 347 kids signed up, making a total of 40 teams from instructional to 12-
year-old leagues. Games will start on December 1 st and run through the end of January. Public
Works resurfaced Lower Dowda Mill Road. They set a paving record resurfacing 31 miles of
roads this year. Currently, they are patching portions of several roads around the county. Overall
the Pickens County government departments are working hard 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
Until the next time, stay safe, and shop local!
JASPER, Ga. – In the regularly scheduled meeting for the Pickens County Planning Commission Monday, it was business as usual. The seven-member panel took their seats and the Commission Chair Bill Cagle called the meeting to order with the invocation given by fellow member Maurice Hendrix.
The first order of business was to approve the minutes from last month’s meeting. Approval of the minutes was unanimous with a 5-0 vote. Board member Jim Fowler abstained from voting due to absence from the previous session. With no old business to discuss, Chairman Cagle brought new business to the table in the request for rezoning of a parcel of property owned by Wallace Gibson. Gibson was seeking the rezoning of 8.89 acres off of Gibson Trail on Allie’s Way.
The property in question is currently zoned as Agriculture with the request for a Rural-Residential zoning. The proposed sale to be used as low-density single family homes was contingent on the board’s approval. Richard Osborne, director of Planning and Development stated the rezoning of the southwest Pickens County property fell in line with the comprehensive plan set forth by the county and recommended approval. With no one in attendance for public discussion, a motion and a second were given and the board approved the rezoning with a 6-0 vote.
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones met with members of the community April 17 to officially sign the county’s proclamation declaring April “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
The proclamation urges “all citizens to observe this month by becoming aware of the reality and tragedy of sexual assault, and by supporting the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network in its efforts to end sexual violence and exploitation.”
Joined in support at the meeting, Kerri Henderson, Pickens County supervisor for the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Shelly Cantrell, Student Services for Pickens County Schools, showed just a small portion of the network of support the Crisis Network has established to answer the need for those victimized. Elaine Cannon, interim executive director at the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, said the community that makes up the supporting organizations are the key to taking care of those in need.
Proclamations like this one from county and city governments show the official and legal face of supporting the cause as the “awareness” that becomes part of shepherding those in need to those who can help, but also in keeping the Crisis Network open with official support when they seek grants and funding to continue their work.
Another part of the network’s need for awareness, Cannon explained that some victims may not come forward for care due to stigma or fear. Explaining the options for victims and those who just need an advocate in a time of shock or confusion and others needing guidance and support going through investigations or medical care is something that these people may not realize. Catering to every need from a retreat, shelter, or support in a court case, the network continues to build upon the entire support structure to continue, without interruption, to provide for the people they help.
Cannon told FetchYourNews, “If we can work together that way, it ensures that the people get a more broad arena of services … Of course, none of us can provide everything they need all the time, but together we can.”