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

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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Deputy dies in Pickens training facility

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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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Piedmont Brings New, Unique Support Program to its Local Hospitals

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Piedmont Mountainside
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.

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Piedmont Mountainside named one of the Nation’s Top 100 Hospitals

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Piedmont Mountainside

Jasper, Ga. (March 11, 2019) — Piedmont Mountainside Hospital has been named one of the nation’s 100 Top Hospitals by IBM Watson Health. The study spotlights the top-performing hospitals in the U.S. based on a balanced scorecard of publicly available clinical, operational and patient satisfaction metrics and data.

“At Piedmont Mountainside, we share a commitment to providing unsurpassed medical care to all who need our services,” said hospital CEO Denise Ray. “We take our promise of making a positive difference in every life we touch seriously, and that’s why we’re so proud to be recognized as a Top 100 Hospital this year.”

Overall, the IBM Watson Health™ 100 Top Hospitals study found that the top-performing hospitals outperformed non-winning peer group hospitals in a variety of performance measures, including higher survival rates, fewer complications and infections, shorter length of stay, shorter emergency department wait times, lower inpatient expenses, higher overall profit margins and higher patient satisfaction.

Based on the results of this year’s study, Watson Health extrapolates that if all Medicare inpatients received the same level of care as those treated in the award-winning facilities:

  • More than 103,000 additional lives could be saved;
  • More than 38,000 additional patients could be complication-free;
  • More than $8.2 billion in inpatient costs could be saved; and
  • Approximately 155,000 fewer discharged patients would be readmitted within 30 days.

“At a time when research shows that the U.S. spends nearly twice as much on healthcare as other high-income countries, yet still has poorer population health outcomes , the 100 Top Hospitals are bucking the trend by delivering consistently better care at a lower cost,” said Ekta Punwani, 100 Top Hospitals® program leader at IBM Watson Health. “The hospitals on this list represent the current vanguard in value-based care and we applaud their commitment to quality.”

The Watson Health 100 Top Hospitals® study uses independent and objective research to analyze hospital and health system performance in 10 clinical and operational areas addressing: risk-adjusted inpatient mortality index, risk-adjusted complications index, mean healthcare-associated infection index, mean 30-day risk-adjusted mortality rate, mean 30-day risk-adjusted readmission rate, severity-adjusted length of stay, mean emergency department throughput, case mix- and wage-adjusted inpatient expense per discharge, adjusted operating profit margin, and HCAHPS score (patient rating of overall hospital performance). The study has been conducted annually since 1993.

For more information, visit www.100tophospitals.com.

About Piedmont Mountainside Hospital

Piedmont Mountainside Hospital – a 52-bed hospital, located in the foothills of the North Georgia Mountains – dedicates itself to delivering unsurpassed medical care to the residents of Pickens. Gilmer and North Cherokee Counties and surrounding communities. We provide a range of services from cardiac rehabilitation and imaging to orthopedic services to cardiac catheterization and general surgery. Piedmont Mountainside offers intensive care, 24-hour emergency services with 18 beds and a fast track area.

At Piedmont Mountainside, we take pride in providing outstanding care and our record of accomplishment speaks for itself. In the past few years, Piedmont Mountainside has consistently ranked in the top five Atlanta hospitals in patient experience as well as received top marks for our commitment to patient safety by Leapfrog 7 consecutive times. Other awards received are the Press Ganey Partner of Choice Award, Best Place to Practice Award, 2011 Small Hospital of the Year, AJC’s 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 Top Workplace, the Women’s Choice Award for Best in Obstetrics and Best in Patient Safety, and Business of the Year by the Gilmer Co. Chamber.

About IBM Watson Health

Watson Health is a business unit of IBM that is dedicated to the development and implementation of cognitive and data-driven technologies to advance health. Watson Health technologies are tackling a wide range of the world’s biggest health care challenges, including cancer, diabetes, drug discovery and more.

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Multi-Agency search ends with suspect capture

News

(Photos provided by Pickens County Sheriff’s Office)

MARBLE HILL, Ga. – According to Pickens County Sheriff’s Office Captain Kris Stancil, a recent accident led to a drawn-out search and capture of one Richard Eric Duckett, 25.

Richard Eric Duckett

Richard Eric Duckett

The Pickens Sheriff involved support from four other agencies including GBI (Georgia Bureau of Investigation), Georgia State Patrol, the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office, and the Cherokee-Pickens multi-agency SWAT team.

Though they did eventually capture Duckett, what follows is the Pickens Sheriff’s Public Release about the events leading up to his capture.

During a bizarre twist of events, an accident that deputies responded to on Highway 53 East in Marble Hill Georgia on March 7th at approximately 10:30 pm, turned out to be an Aggravated Assault case. Upon arrival at an accident, deputies found the driver of one vehicle to be suffering from a gunshot wound to his leg. Another vehicle, a motorcycle, was also found wrecked with no driver in site.

Recognizing that this was more than an accident, deputies requested the assistance of detectives, the Georgia State Patrol and later the GBI Crime Scene Unit to respond as well.

What we have learned about this active case is that a domestic dispute erupted at a residence on Andiron Way in Marble Hill Georgia. During the dispute, Richard Eric Duckett (age 25) shot Roy Joseph Holloway in the right leg. After shooting Holloway, Duckett then fled the residence on a Yamaha Motorcycle. Holloway then got into a Lexus passenger car and began to chase after him.

As they traveled East on Hwy 53 East, Duckett lost control of the motorcycle and wrecked in the 10000 block of Hwy 53 East, near the J.M. Huber Corporation. Holloway then continued to travel East for approximately ½ mile before he wrecked the car near Pea Ridge Road.

Holloway was transported by ambulance and was treated for his injuries and released.

A search for Duckett began using the assistance of a Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office canine unit. Following a track and additional witness information, it was determined that Duckett had received a ride back to the residence at 18 Andiron Way. Once this information was obtained, detectives obtained a Search Warrant and Arrest Warrant for Mr. Duckett. Due to no one answering the multiple attempts to come to the door, the Cherokee-Pickens multi-agency SWAT team was requested to execute entry and conduct a search warrant.

During the execution of the search warrant, Mr. Duckett was not found in the residence but Patrick Scheibel (age 20) was arrested for Obstruction of Law Enforcement Officers.

Deputies continued to search for Duckett in the immediate area throughout the night.

On Friday, March 8th, deputies were called to a residence in the area of Duckett Lane for an individual requesting an ambulance due to a motorcycle accident. Upon arrival, they learned that the individual was Mr. Duckett. He had what appear to be non-life-threatening injuries and was transported by ambulance to an area hospital for treatment. Detective accompanied him on the transport.

This case is still being actively investigated to determine the events that led up to the shooting and to process the evidence obtained at the residence and in the vehicles.

Author

Jones Mountain Road a “major disaster”

News

JASPER, Ga. – “A pretty good hit for a small county like Pickens,” that is how Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones referred to the Jones Mountain Road incident that lost an entire lane and part of the bank as well as ripping out a water line.

The incident occurred on February 22, 2019, after the massive rains the area had suffered in recent weeks. Chairman Jones had confirmed the road closure that is still in effect today. Original plans were that the road was to be reopened in the following week. However, the damage is larger than originally thought.

Jones confirmed with FYN today that rough estimates indicate the repair project could end up costing close to $1.8 million in total. There is a proposal before the BOC for repairs using GSI (GeoStabilization International), a company commonly used to the Georgia Department of Transportation.

Jones said the proposal, if approved, would make a priority to reopen the section as a single lane for traffic within seven days which could include some gravel over the back shoulder in an effort to alleviate the single lane squeeze. He wants the lane open as he asserted it will be at least a month before this proposal would have Jones Mountain Road fully repaired.

The $1.8 million project also represents a titanic hit to the county’s budget this year. To respond to this, Jones told FYN he is actively seeking aid from both State and Federal agencies as the county starts looking at a long-term recovery process that could easily drift into late spring.

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Pickens County School District Kindergarten Registration

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