Pickens County September Board of Education Meeting

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BOE Meeting

JASPER, Ga – The Pickens County Board of Education had its monthly meeting on Thursday September 8th.

Dr. Ron Newcomb at the BOE meetingThe meeting was business as usual as attendees opened up with a prayer  and the pledge of allegiance.

Firstly, Dr. Ron Newcomb, the president of Chattahoochee Technical College, highlighted the success of the college’s collaboration with Pickens County High Schools to provide vocational training to students. This program also allows students to gain college credits in case they choose to further their education in a university.

Secondly, Career, Technical, and Agricultural Education (CTAE) Director Carissa Parker highlighted the federal and state grants the CTAE programs received.

Thirdly, the Chief Financial Officer Amy Smith, broke down the current budget and expenditures made. She highlighted that Pickens County can again boast no debt.

Thirdly, Mr. Wallace gave an update instead of the Chief Operations Officer Stacy Gilleland. He explained that the county is seeking to acquire seven new buses for the next year. The bus orders take a year to be fulfilled. The seven buses will cost around $229,ooo, which the county will pay for out of pocket and receive reimbursement from the state.

The overall goal is to keep the fleet of buses less than ten years old, with up to date security equipment and air conditioning.

Finally, the Board of Education meeting concluded with the members’ approval all the action items.

Board of Education Meeting Agenda

Bus Drivers’ DUI Arrests Prompt Action from Board of Education

Board of Education, Featured, Featured News
Bus drivers Jeffrey Tucker and Tammy Decerbo

PICKENS COUNTY, Ga – Jeffrey Tucker and Tammy Decerbo, the the two bus drivers arrested and charged with DUI, will now face disciplinary action from the Pickens County Board of Education (BOE).

On Tuesday August 24th, the Pickens County BOE released a statement, detailing the county’s response to their DUI arrests.Press Release from Pickens County BOE

Georgia State Patrol arrested Tucker after he registered .03 on the Breathalyzer. In Georgia, the legal limit for commercial vehicle drivers is .04% blood alcohol levels. Consequently, the BOE has decided to terminate Tucker’s employment.

Jeffrey Tucker, bus driver arrested for DUIDecerbo faces DUI and failure to maintain lane charges. According the Pickens County BOE, there were no indication that she drove her school bus while under the influence. Despite this, the BOE has decided to suspend her until the charges pending against her are resolved.Tammy Decerbo

These two arrests have caused the BOE to review their bus related policies, procedures, and protocols. Furthermore, the BOE will be providing additional training to their staff and outside consultants who play a role in transporting the children of Pickens County.

Pickens County Board of Elections Meeting August 2nd 2022

Election, News

Voice of Rural America provided the following video of a live broadcast on August 2, 2022.  This is the Pickens County Board of Elections meeting.

Indictments made for former Pickens Superintendent

Theft, Indictments

PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. – Two months after their arrest in Pickens County, Georgia’s Attorney General, Chris Carr, has announced indictments against former Pickens County School Superintendent Carlton Wilson and his wife, Cynthia Wilson, on charges of Racketeering, one count of Theft by Taking, and two counts of Theft by Conversion.

In April 2022, the two were arrested on allegations of thefts that occurred between November 2021 and January 2022.

Now, the indictments filed against the couple include six counts of Theft by Taking by a Fiduciary and one count of Theft by Deception. Cynthia Wilson was also separately indicted on one count of Tampering with Evidence. These indictments were presented to a Pickens County Grand Jury on June 7, 2022.

According to a release from the Attorney General’s Office,

Specifically, the indictment charges the defendants with the following which, if convicted, can carry the respective penalties:

  • Racketeering in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4: 5-20 years in custody and a fine of up to $25,000 or three times the pecuniary value gained by the accused.
  • Theft by Taking in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2: 2-20 years in custody and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
  • Theft by Conversion in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2: 12 months in custody and/or a fine of up to $1,000 where the value of the theft is less than $1,500.
  • Theft by Conversion in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2: 1-10 years in custody and/or a fine of up to $100,000 where the value of the theft is greater than $5,000 and less than $24,999.

Carlton Wilson, separately:

  • Theft by Taking by a Fiduciary in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2: 1-15 years in custody and/or a fine of up to $100,000.
  • Theft by Deception in violation of O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2: 1-10 years in custody and/or a fine of up to $100,000 where the value of the theft is greater than $5,000 and less than $24,999.

Cindy Wilson, separately:

  • Tampering with Evidence in violation of O.C.G.A. §16-10-94: 1-3 years in custody and/or a fine of up to $100,000.

Dr. Carlton Wilson had a brief time at the center of some debate as Superintendent of Pickens County Schools when he resigned amid numerous emergency meetings discussing the superintendent position and rumors that he was soon to be let go. Later, Wilson offered a letter to the citizens of Pickens County where he stated, ” I was not given any reason except several of the board members had lost confidence in my leadership. Several members of the Board did not like the direction I was leading the school system.” This letter came days after a failed 2-3 vote to reinstate Wilson as Superintendent, which came in the month after the 3-2 vote to accept his resignation in December 2019.

Then, according to the allegations in the warrants for arrests, later in 2020, Wilson served as the Victim Witness Coordinator for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office where he allegedly committed Theft by Deception by receiving over $6,300 in payroll checks through the Shared Leave Bank due to ongoing injuries preventing him from working, yet he worked at his gun range. They go on to state that these payroll checks were deposited into a private account which they allege were used “almost solely for online gambling activities or to pay gambling debts.”

Other allegations include the sale of property meant for the Boy Scouts and also allegedly used to fund his participation in online gambling activities and payments of debts derived from online gambling activities.

“Our office is committed to rooting out fraud and deception wherever it may occur,” said Attorney General Chris Carr as he announced the indictments on June 30, 2022, “We will continue working with our law enforcement partners to pursue those who steal from the pockets of hardworking Georgians for their own personal gain. We take these allegations very seriously, and we look forward to presenting our case in court.”

The indictments filed also note additional charges including Theft by Conversion and Theft by Taking according to allegations that Carlton Wilson took property and funds intended for Appalachian Gun Range and the operation of that business and converted these to his own use, violating agreements made.

Additionally, the indictments add the charge of tampering with evidence to Cynthia Wilson due to allegedly obstructing the view “of a security camera at Appalachian Gun Range.”

Both Carlton and Cynthia Wilson have entered pleas of “not guilty” according to the indictment records.

Former Superintendent Wilson arrested for theft in Pickens

Theft, Indictments

JASPER, Ga. – Warrants were served for the arrest of of Pickens County Schools’ former Superintendent Dr. Carlton Keith Wilson on charges that include both Theft by Deception and Theft by Taking.

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and the Adult Detention Center have release the arrest records and warrants on Wilson, who was held in custody on $5,000 bail. Allegations say that these thefts occurred between November 2021 through January 2022. Dr. Wilson became Superintendent of Pickens Schools in May of 2017. He later resigned amid numerous emergency meetings called by the Board of Education in December 2019.

According to the warrants, in May 2020, Wilson served as the Victim Witness Coordinator for the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office. This came with an annual salary of $42,500. In September 2021, the Pickens Board of Commissioners (BOC) approved a Shared Leave Policy allowing employees to donate unused leave time into a Shared Leave Bank. Also in September 2021, the documents state that Wilson sustained injuries in a car accident. Fully expending his own leave, he applied to receive donated leave hours through the Share Leave Bank and was approved.


Former Pickens Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson

During his leave, he allegedly began going to the Appalachian Gun Range, a business he owns with a partner and at which he was a firearms instructor. Detectives have investigated the business’ bank records stating that proceeds from the courses “are essential to the success of the company.” In January 2022, Wilson requested additional leave until April 2022, saying his doctor would not release him to work and that he had blood clots in his lungs and leg.

According to the Detectives investigation, during the approved leave time that lasted through January, they state that approximately 138 individuals took courses at the range. The warrants state that Wilson said he taught most of those courses. Under the charge of Theft by Deception, it is noted that Wilson received over $6,300 in payroll checks through the Shared Leave Bank. They go on to state that these payroll checks were deposited into a private account which they allege were used “almost solely for online gambling activities or to pay gambling debts.”

The warrants go on to note the Theft by Taking Offense as Wilson’s alleged operations through Scouts of Hill City Inc. (SHC Inc.), a non-profit organization. As an individual looked to donate 10 acres of land to the Boy Scouts of America in 2009 and were referred to Wilson, the land was eventually donated to Hill City Elementary PTO Inc. with the expressed intent to be used solely to benefit the Boy Scouts in Pickens County.

After BSA Troop 288 disbanded in 2015 and Cub Scout Pack 288 disbanded in 2016, the land was deeded to SHC Inc. in 2018. In 2021, SHC Inc. re-registered with Georgia’s Secretary of State with Wilson as the CEO. The land was split into two tracts and sold in September 2021 for $14,000 each with the funds, minus closing costs, deposited into the SHC Inc. accounts. The warrants state that this money was then used through checks written, payments to personal credit cards, and cashback to Wilson in order to fund “his participation in online gambling activities and payments of debts derived from online gambling activities.

According to documentation, that alleged activity included $1,520 cashback on September 9, 2021, a check for $9,000 on September 10, 2021, a check for $5,000 on September 21, 2021, a check for $5,000 on October 10, 2021, a direct electronic payment to a personal credit card for $5,000 on November 1, 2021, and a check for $900 on December 1, 2021.

These charges were filed with the Superior Court of Pickens County on April 19, 2022. See the full documents of these arrest warrants linked.

Shooting suspect transported back to Pickens


JASPER, Ga. – Yesterday, January 20, 2022, a person opened fire near the dollar general in the Golden Springs area of Pickens County. A press release from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office later confirmed the arrest of Nathan Lewis Highsmith, 26, years old of Canton, Georgia, in regards to the shooting

Today, Pickens Sheriff’s Office Public Information Officer Hannah Wise confirmed with FYN that the shooting suspect, Highsmith (pictured above), has been transferred into Pickens County from the Sandy Springs Police Department. The Sheriff’s release noted that Highsmith allegedly fled the scene in a Honda Accord and was later arrested by Sandy Spring Police.

Wise also confirmed that the Sheriff’s Office currently believes the incident to be a solitary one with Highsmith acting alone, but asserted that the Sheriff’s Office is still investigating the incident. Officer Wise stated that they have not confirmed the motive behind the shooting either.

As an ongoing investigation, the Sheriff’s Office is not releasing detailed information such as if the victims knew Highsmith or other possible connections. Additionally, as a part of the ongoing investigation, the Sheriff’s Office has contacted the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) to assist as well. The GBI has not released a statement about the investigation at all.

The shooting claimed one life and there was no update available to the public on the second victim from Wise today. As of now, the charges still stand at Aggravated Assault and Felony Murder. Wise confirmed that as of January 21, 2022, Highsmith is still in custody and has not been released on bail.


Denney announces resignation from Board of Commissioners

Business, Community, News
Denney addresses board and citizens

PICKENS, Ga. — Becky Denney announced her resignation from the Pickens County Board of Commissioners at their first October meeting. The board is now preparing for the vacancy that will open on Oct. 31. 

Becky Denney is the county commissioner for East Pickens, and has served on the board for over eight years, more than two terms. 

Chairman Kris Stancil read a letter from Denney that announced her resignation to the Board of Commissioners and citizens of Pickens: “I’d like to thank the citizens of Pickens County for the kindness you’ve shown me during my time on the board. I’ve been truly blessed.” Denney gave her reason for resignation, explaining she wants to spend more time with her husband, children, and grandkids. 

However, Denney says the choice was not easy, “You just have no idea what a tough decision this was … one reason it’s so tough is we have so many exciting plans going forward.” 

Denney says she is proud of the county’s financial position and notes the construction of two new fire stations, the renovation of a recycling building, and a new public works building. Denney also says she has “worked on policies & procedures, such as our retirement plan, health insurance, for our employees, thereby ensuring that Pickens County is a great workplace!” 

Chairman Stancil also announced that he has met with the Board of Elections, and that the county has already begun preparing for the vacancy. Stancil explained that they are looking at the procedure for conducting special elections, which will be announced in the coming months. 

Other Business: 

The Board of Commissioners formally proclaimed the month of October to be Dysautonomia Awareness Month. Dysautonomia, as Chairman Stancil explained, “is a group of medical conditions that result in the malfunction of the autonomic nervous system.” He noted that there are residents in Pickens County who are suffering from these conditions. 

The board also discussed employee health insurance at the meeting. The board was given a proposal to save the county over $357,000 by switching to Anthem and Procare plans. If the county does not switch from their current Cigna plans, Chairman Stancil says they will lose the savings and incur an additional increase in costs of over $100,000. The board voted to approve the insurance contracts which will be provided to the board on Oct. 8. 


Pickens Commissioners approve a new sick leave policy

Business, Community
Pickens County Administrative Offices

PICKENS, Ga.— The Pickens County Board of Commissioners met Sept. 16 to discuss a new sick leave policy and voice formal support for a new scenic byway.

Chairman Kris Stancil first asked the board to consider creating a “sick bank” policy during the first Board of Commissioners September meeting. During the second September meeting, the completed policy was approved unanimously by the board. The shared leave policy will allow employees to opt-in with an initial contribution of at least 4 hours. Afterwards, workers are able to donate up to 80 hours a year. Only employees dealing with a serious illness (as defined by the FMLA), who have already expended all personal sick leave and vacation time, will be allowed to withdraw from the sick bank. However, employees will only be able to withdraw a maximum of 12 weeks worth of leave.

“This gives us an opportunity to be able to ensure that we have a job for them to come back to,” Stancil said. Paula Peace, who was present at the meeting, drafted the policy. When asked if the policy runs smoothly elsewhere, Peace assured the board she has heard no negative feedback from neighboring counties.

Proposed route for amicalola scenic byway

The proposed route for the new Amicalola Falls Scenic Byway.

The Board of Commissioners also discussed a new scenic byway being proposed by the state. The proposed Amicalola Falls Scenic Byway would stretch from Ellijay, Ga to Dawsonville, Ga, with portions entering Jasper and Talking Rock. The board granted unanimous approval for the byway, meaning the state can continue their application process. Although Pickens County takes on no new responsibilities with the byway, Stancil did say the county might assist with signage. 

At the end of the meeting, Charlene Bunch presented a financial status update for the month of August. Stancil noted that almost every county department is significantly under budget for the fiscal year: “I just want to brag on all the departments.” 



Pickens BOE sets millage after Executive Session for personnel


JASPER, Ga. – A special called meeting of the Pickens County Board of Education met this week and put the final approval on the board’s millage rate.

Upon calling the meeting to order and approving the agenda, however, the Pickens County Board of Education retreated to an executive session to discuss, as Board Chair Sue Finley read, “the appointment, employment, compensation, hiring, disciplinary action or dismissal or periodic evaluation or rating of a public officer or employee. Or to interview applicants for the position of superintendent.”

The board took no action upon exiting executive session, but instead moved on to the regular agenda.

An official motion came to approve the Board of Education’s millage rate at 14.30 mills. Board Member Aaron Holland made the motion with a second from Steve Smith.

This sets the millage rate 0.53 mills lower than last year and continuing the steady decline according to the school’s 5-year history of the tax levied.

BOE Budget, millage

BOE FY 22 Initial Budget

The system estimates, according to the 5-year history, $22,648,385 in total M&) taxes levied. The budget denotes $24,908,755 in local taxes.

Finley said, “I would like to thank Mr. Young and Ms. Smith for their hard work to make this happen to bring our budget to the point where we can have our millage rate at 14.30 and still have our budget in the black. Thank you very much.”

A unanimous vote for both the millage rate and the FY 22 budget saw the board passing an initial budget for the year.

That budget totals $48.7 million, estimating that the school system’s fund balance will remain at $10.5 million.


Vernon Jones visits Pickens Republican Party

News, Politics

JASPER, Ga. – Running for Governor in the State of Georgia, candidate Vernon Jones stopped by Pickens County and their local Republican Party meeting this week to discuss his campaign, Brian Kemp, racism, and the election.


Vernon Jones arrives at the Pickens Room in Jasper, Georgia, to speak with the Pickens Republican Party on July 13, 2021.

With words of encouragement on Tuesday, July 13, 2021, Jones told the over crowded Pickens Room in the bottom of the Pickens County Administrative Building that he was the candidate to return Georgia to the people. Spending much of his time on major issues like the voter rights, elections security, racial divisiveness, and the Democrat Stacey Abrams, Jones told Pickens County Republicans that he is the only candidate who can save Georgia and the only candidate who can beat the democrats “no matter who they bring.”

The Pickens Room had several people standing as every seat was taken. In fact, he spent more time answering questions in the meeting than he did giving his initial speech spending nearly 38 minutes on his speech and nearly 52 minutes answering questions.

Those questions ranged from asking for promises to get rid of the Dominion Voting system to how he could fight against the “biased media.”

A large portion of his time in both his speech and questions, the majorly common theme the Jones addressed was racism and hypocrisy as he said the left can’t play the “race card” against him. He noted how he had been assaulted by a gay transgendered person because he didn’t agree and and follow the democrat party. Jones said he never left the Democrat Party, they left him.

As he spoke about his transition to Republican Party, Jones added how current Governor Brian Kemp betrayed the party and made backroom deals with Stacey Abrams that led to “Stacey’s Law” and the corruption of Georgia’s election process.

Questions continued until, ultimately, Chairman Mora had to call for two final questions and the end of the meeting. However, this did not stop one more act as one of those present asked to pray for Jones before he left the meeting.


Georgia Governor Candidate, Vernon Jones speaks about the elections, security, racism, and Georgia’s potential within the states.

Jones has been endorsed by other Republicans and current Trump supporters like Rudy Giuliani. A case that, he said during the meeting, came from his early support, even as a Democrat, for Trump.

Support came from others in the room as well. Gina Rolsten, a newer member who only got into politics in recent years, said that she had been interested to hear Jones speak as she has been excited to have him as a candidate. Having met all the primary candidates, she said that Vernon Jones was “by far” the most in line with what she believed Georgia needs. Rolsten said she had heard Jones speak before the Pickens meeting, but was very interested in seeing others come out to listen. When asked, Rolsten said she had no care that he had been Democrat saying, “I know what his values are. I know what he stands for.”

Jeri Haid said she had been invited by a friend to listen to Jones. Also unmoved by his former Democrat status, Haid said she believed a lot of Democrats are starting to realize they are “old school” Democrats. Haid noted that even members of her family, who have been lifelong Democrats, are starting to pull away from the party as they don’t agree on the same values anymore. She wants a more united nation as she said she just wants us to be free again. She said, “If you want to go to church, go to church. If you don’t want to go to church, don’t go to church.” Be free to do what you want.

It was a them echoed by Jones who said he didn’t care what people wanted to do, he simply wants to end the corruption and the culture of telling others who and what they are. He gave an example quoting President Joe Biden as he said if you don’t vote for me, you aren’t black.

Allen Wigington convicted of 44 felonies and 5 misdemeanors

Judge Allen Wigington, indicted

JASPER, Ga. – Arrested in January of 2020, former Chief Magistrate Judge for Pickens County, Allen Wigington was convicted recently on his charges racketeering, forgery, and theft. Now serving a 15 year total sentence. However, he is expected to only spend 5 years in prison.

According to the state, Attorney General Chris Carr announced that the office’s Prosecution Division has concluded its case against Judge William “Allen” Wigington.

They said, “He was found guilty of 1 count of Racketeering, 3 counts of Fourth Degree Forgery, 5 counts of Theft by Taking, 39 counts of Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Card, and 1 Count of Violation of Oath of Office. In total, his crimes amounted to 44 felonies and 5 misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.”

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office worked alongside the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in the case reaching all the way back to 2016. According to the the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the investigation began when a local non-profit organization noticed that Judge Wigington had paid his personal credit card bill using the non-profit’s bank account. He reportedly made several questionable purchases for instance he made three separate transactions of $923, $848.31, and $317 from Pickens County Magistrate Court to give to a nonprofit with the “intention of depriving owner of said property.” In reports of the crimes investigated, it was stated that he charged $96.27, $137.82, and $343.84 on Pickens County government card for personal expenses at Hampton Inn in Kingsland, Ga, Doubletree by Hilton at Atlanta Airport, and Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Fla. It was also discovered that he had been double billing the county for travel reimbursements. The Attorney General’s Office also specifically noted that “Judge Wigington also stole 200 dollars that was designated to purchase a suit for a child whose family could not afford to purchase it.”

Attorney General Chris Carr, Wigington

Attorney General Chris Carr

Attorney General Chris Carr stated in a press release, “Mr. Wigington violated the public’s trust in the worst way, and he will now serve time for his deceitful behavior. I commend the work of our Prosecution Division, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office for uncovering the extreme lengths that Mr. Wigington went through to defraud his community. The theft of taxpayer funds will not go unpunished, and we will continue to root out this type of public corruption in our state.”

When the investigation became public and a GBI Warrant was executed to search his office on January 29, 2020, authorities reported that Judge Allen Wigington turned himself in and later resigned his position as Judge.

Though the Attorney General’s Office notes a 15-year sentence, it was stated in their release, “He will serve 5 in custody, followed by the remainder on probation.”

The Office of the Attorney General provides the following case notes:

Incident 1

Judge William “Allen” Wigington was appointed Chief Magistrate Judge of Pickens County in May of 2011. He resigned in February of 2020 related to these charges.

In March of 2019, Judge Allen Wigington was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Jasper, Georgia known as the Blaine Lodge. He held the position of treasurer. At the March meeting of the Lodge, the Lodge secretary noticed that there was a discrepancy in the Lodge bank account. There was supposed to be $8,000 in the account, but the bank account balance was only approximately $5,900. Examination showed that Wigington had paid his personal Chase credit card bill out of the Lodge account in the amount of $2,118.37. The secretary immediately sent a text message to Wigington who advised that the account must have been hacked and that he would take care of the matter the next day. Wigington contacted the secretary the next day and advised that the bank refused to help Wigington, and the bank told him that he would have to contact Chase to solve the problem. As a follow up, Wigington told the secretary that Chase said that they couldn’t directly deposit the fraud reimbursement in the Lodge’s account. Therefore, Wigington planned to have Chase send the money to the Courthouse, and Wigington would reimburse the Lodge through the courthouse.

Wigington thereafter wrote three checks from Pickens County Magistrate Court account to cover the Lodge’s loss. The three checks totaled $2,188.37, which was more than was drawn out of the Lodge’s account. The Lodge secretary immediately noticed the discrepancy and knew that Wigington had lied to him. The secretary communicated the issue to another Lodge member.

That member confronted Wigington at the courthouse. Wigington told the member that he received the reimbursement checks from Chase, but that his clerk accidentally deposited them in the Magistrate Court’s account, and that he reimbursed it from the Magistrate Court’s account. Wigington showed the member copies of the alleged checks. Eventually, Wigington changed his story saying he made an error. He said he used the Lodge’s account to pay his credit card bill.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) followed up with Chase Bank in January of 2020. A subpoena to Chase found that Wigington had forged the three Chase checks that Wigington showed the member to corroborate the lie that Chase had reimbursed him for the alleged hacked account.

Incident 2

On January 28, 2020, the GBI received documentation that Wigington had purchased multiple Apple tech products on his Pickens County Magistrate Court Purchase Card (p-card) on November 19, 2018. Three of the purchases would later be substantiated as work-related, but there was not an explanation for an Apple Watch and AppleCare support.

As a result of these documents, the GBI expanded its investigation into Wigington’s p-card usage. The results found the following inappropriate expenses:

  • September 14, 2017 – Hampton Inn, Canton, Georgia
  • September 15, 2017 – New Orleans Hyatt Riverside
  • March 31, 2018 – Doubletree Hotel in Atlanta
  • February 17, 2019 – Disney Hotel
  • September 23, 2019 – Jacksonville Hotel on the way to take a cruise

Four of these hotel expenses are related to family vacations to Disney, cruises, etc.

Incident 3

The GBI and Pickens County Sheriff’s Office discovered that Wigington falsified documents to cover up his personal expenses. For example:

On July 18, 2019, Wigington documented a P-Card expense of $366.99 as an HDMI converter box, HDMI switch, and computer charging case. Normally, these would be considered appropriate expenses. However, when the Sheriff’s Office and GBI looked at the actual Amazon documentation, it was noticed that Wigington had purchased a Nintendo Switch, Apple Airpods, and an Airpod charger.

This occurred numerous times over years with Wigington purchasing everything from electronics to skin care.

Incident 4

Wigington was an associate of the High School Mock Trial program. One of the children could not afford a suit for a competition, so a local defense attorney gave Wigington $200.00 to purchase a suit for the student. Wigington pocketed the $200.00 and used his P-Card to purchase two suits from K&G: one for the student and one for himself.

Incident 5

The Violation of Oath of Office is an all-encompassing charge for his misconduct.


City Council returns to open events in city with approvals


JASPER, Ga. – Plans are now in motion in the city council to return to Fourth of July celebrations in Jasper this year. While last year the city didn’t hold fireworks and had other issues due to COVID restrictions, the council is looking to return this year with a two day event on Saturday, July 3, and Sunday July 4.

According to the presentation by Leslie Miller and discussion in the May meeting of the city council, the plan was set to hold events, the parade, bingo, and celebrations in the afternoon while holding the fireworks display on Sunday along with a band playing at Lee Newton Park.

The parade will be held on Saturday at 1 p.m. this year to coincide and “kick off” the celebration with the major parts beginning around 230 p.m. City Manager Brandon Douglas said the process began months ago with planning and looking ahead. He noted that “signature events” like the Fourth of July show great partnerships between the city and other entities. He noted that there would be costs involved including staff time, stage rental, and other needs from departments like the police who help make the event work.

With that, approval for the event came unanimously with the addition for the City Manager to spend what he feels appropriate “in his limit.”

The council also approve an event in September, furthering their return to general activities and public events. This event, to be held on September 2-5, 2021, is a special event for camping at Lee Newton Park. According to the city, North Georgia Family Partners is reserving the park similar to how they have in the past in order to “accommodate camping for Jeep Fest participants to raise money for the children and families in their program.”

According to the event website, for those who don’t know, “JeepFest raises money for a variety of charities that share one thing in common….they take care of kids. Since the event is hosted by the Sheriff’s Foundation, a non-profit organization, the Board of Directors works each year to identify needs in local, state, and national youth needs to support. Some of the charities that we help include the Georgia Sheriffs’ Youth Homes, the Joy House, Special Olympics for Pickens County, the Boys and Girls Club, the Jasper Youth Sports Association and much more!”

As campers start showing up on Thursday, those getting ready for the event would have places to set up for the whole weekend and using facilities at the training center. The city will not be handling the security for the area, but the motion only approved permission for the usage.

IMPACT Pickens calls for resignations from Pickens BOE

IMPACT Pickens

JASPER, Ga. – In a meeting all there own, IMPACT Pickens, a group of citizens who have banded together against certain members of the Pickens Board of Education, called for resignation of Board Chairman Sue Finley.


They did so with a large presentation showing text messages. The massive collection of 350 pages obtained through an Open Records Request showed the text messages and statements of Finley, Young, and references to other board members. The entire presentation is available (video to the left) and the group is more than willing to offer digital copies of the texts on thumb drives.

These texts vary from fragments to whole sections of conversations. They were presented by the Impact Pickens Organization during the town hall meeting that many, including former Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend, attended. Though Dr. Townsend didn’t speak much, he did answer a couple of question from citizens about timelines and extra funds the school had.

IMPACT Pickens President Steve Lowe expressed his aggravation and frustration that board members would be “plotting” anything, but said these texts show the plans set into motion to oust Dr. Townsend as Superintendent and bring back former Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson. These texts, Lowe showed, happened during meetings as well as during executive sessions at times. With the main focus of the presentation on this plan to bring back Wilson, there were also other points when Chris Pence, Treasurer of IMPACT Pickens and main presenter at the Town Hall, pointed out plans to get Finley appointed Chairman and Steve Smith appointed as Vice Chairman.

IMPACT Pickens

Chris Pence shows a text message obtained through the IMPACT Pickens Open Records Request during a presentation on April 24, 2021.

While Finley was appointed to Chairman, Smith was not appointed Vice-Chair. In one text, Finley stated, “The Queen is not happy.”

Pence said this was appalling as the text references the vice-chairman appointment. He said these texts messages and the fact that board members and administrators are planning things and discussing votes and intentions to vote outside of open board meeting, constitutes SACS violations. SACS is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Their better known parent company, AdvancED, operates accreditations and certifications and was among the main concerns of citizens when Townsend was in the process of being terminated.

That process was drug out as citizens’ outcry over the $500,000 payout and other implications came in to focus. That process continued as the Board of Education attempted to negotiate with Townsend to find a different position in the school system for him instead of Superintendent.

With Townsend declining the offers, the Board moved forward with the buyout.

Besides Townsend, the texts included plans for the appointment of Aaron Holland, allegations about Holland, and implications for future plans. One text from Young to Finley stated, “If those two knew Aaron it wouldn’t be 4-0. Lol”


The texts evolve between Holland and Finley discussing plans and motions, willingness to do something in his first meeting, and possibly waiting until January.

Other texts openly admit to an “underground network” with orders to praise “him” to his face to ensure good evaluations while Sue says they are working as fast as they can to “correct the situation.”

Pence also posed allegations that Board Attorney Phil Landrum allowed Finley to redact certain sections of the text messages at her choosing.

Many of the texts continue following and leading towards the removal of Townsend with Finley allegedly  steering much of the operations to her own plans and desires. IMPACT Pickens highlighted only a portion of the texts in the packet, showing what they showed as the high points of the scheming.

One of the text messages from Tony Young specifically admits a meeting with “Phil” and “Amy” discussing a buyout number ready. IMPACT Pickens said this is a major issue as the text occurred on January 11, 2021 discussing buyout information and the termination of Dr. Townsend days before the emergency called three-hour executive session meeting of the Pickens BOE on January 15, 2021, or the “Emergency Called Meeting” of the Pickens BOE on January 18, 2021, discussing the termination of Dr. Rick Townsend.

IMPACT Pickens

Meeting in the Community Room, IMPACT Pickens presented their allegations against members of the Pickens Board of Education calling for recalls on April 24, 2021.

Additionally, early text messages before these emergency called meetings asked if the board should “bring Tony in before we ask Dr T to leave the room or after?”

The Organization has already spoken with SACS accreditation, Georgia’s Attorney General, and other agencies requesting investigations into the Board and these allegations.

Additionally, they are collecting signatures and moving forward with court cases of their own. Seeking board members and the Superintendent Tony Young to step down, the organization is pursuing recalls and any options they have available. They called for school personnel as well, but were warned that many teachers and staff have to worry about retaliation to their jobs or even their children in the school system.

In a separate video, Pence spoke to citizens thanking them for support. The organization operates through donations that they said they have used to acquire information such as the 350 page open records request for texts. He said, “I really think that now we’re showing the elected officials that the citizens are tired. We are tired of them wasting our money. We are tired of them not being ethical or moral.”

Lowe also commented on the response the organization has received from citizens saying, “We are really grateful for all you have done. It’s been humbling to see people come out…”

Pickens in recovery from storm damage


PICKENS COUNTY, Ga. – With schools completely shutdown today, March 26, 2021, citizens and authorities are out in force attempting to recover from the damages caused by last nights storm and tornadoes across North Georgia.

Pickens did not suffer a tornado, but has suffered severe damage from the storm, flooding, and winds during the night.

Earlier today the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office offered a list of known road hazards or roads that are currently impassible from the storms last night.

– Evans Rd has several places that are severely washed out or potentially have damage to the roadway and is shut down.
– Grandview Rd at Pendley Creek below Parkland Dr has a large amount of mud buildup.
– Mineral Springs Rd North just south of Roper Funeral Home has been flooded over.
– Long Rd at the creek is flooded over.
– Talking Rock Road at Highway 136 near Downtown Talking Rock is severely flooded.
– Jordan Road is flooded is some parts.
– Upper Salem Church Road is flooded near the bridge.
– Talc Mine Road is washed out in one area.
– Genett Drive is shut down at Hood Park Drive near the bridge.
– Twin Mountain Lake Circle is flooded and is impassable.
– There is a tree across both lanes of Highway 136 East just west of East Price Creek. There are utility lines involved. State DOT is currently in the process of clearing this obstruction.

The Pickens Board of Education said they worked closely with city and county road officials before canceling class. Due to the storm, many roads have severe washouts that citizens should avoid.

Authorities across the state are warning citizens to not attempt to drive through flooded areas of roads. This is because some of those roads may be so flooded that they only appear to have a foot or two of water, but have washed out the road under it. Risks of severe injury or death could come from driving into such washouts.

stormThe City of Jasper has shared a photo of Gennett Drive (pictured to the right) showing just how bad some of these roads have become.

Roads are not the only effected area as the storm also knocked out power for much of North Georgia. According to Amicalola EMC some of these are quite major including “one large outage affecting 655 members in Pickens County near Cove Road and Grandview. A tree has torn the line down and crews are working to restore power now.”

Due to the calm morning, much of the power has been restored and, according to their outage map, only a few pockets remain that crews are still working to fix.

Pickens County’s Government also issued a statement on the storm saying, “We were extremely fortunate in Pickens County last night to avoid the tornadoes that swept across the south. Our thoughts and prayers are with the many communities that were hit. Unfortunately, we were not spared from several areas experiencing some level of flooding.”

Citizens should also be aware that while the county and public safety officials issued a list of affected roads, there are others not on the list including personal roads and even driveways that can and have been affected.

stormJoAnn Smith commented on the city’s photo, sharing her own photo of her driveway (pictured to the left) affected by a small creek. Any and all water flows have been affected and could potentially cause similar damage.

Pickens County Government has encouraged citizens to sign up for “Code Red Alerts” by taking a moment to fill out the information at the link. They stated, “Doing so will ensure that you are notified by your local emergency response team in the event of emergency situations or critical community alerts.”

Geological surveys in nearby areas showed rivers reaching over 12 feet in depth.

As the situation continues to unfold, citizens are encouraged to reach out to public safety for emergencies as the county continues clearing debris, repairing roads, and returning itself to safer conditions.

Wigington indicted by state in Pickens Superior Court

Judge Allen Wigington, indicted

JASPER, Ga. – The case of the State of Georgia vs. William Allen Wigington and Rosemary Taudte Wigington has moved forward this week as they were officially indicted by a Grand Jury in Pickens County on March 11, 2021.

The indictment includes both Allen and Rosemary in the filing where it lists 58 counts against the defendants. Both arrested in January 2020, Allen Wigington is listed on every count, only six bear Rosemary’s name. The 58 counts switch between theft by taking, racketeering, violation of oath by public officer, forgery in the fourth degree, and numerous counts of unauthorized use of a financial transaction card.


Rosemary Taudte Wigington, left, and William Allen Wigington, right, were indicted by a Grand Jury on March 11, 2021, in Pickens County.

The indictment explained part of the alleged crimes through taking money on different occasions, some more than $1,500 and some less, the use of a “purchasing card,” and forging checks.

As the indictment paperwork explains, “Pickens County Government has two primary ways to purchase goods or services. The first way is through the issuance of Purchasing Cards, known as “P-Cards.” P-Cards are credit cards with government accounts that are issued to certain government officials. The bills for P-Cards are sent directly to the government, thus bypassing the government official’s need to process reimbursement paperwork.”

Many of these charges involving P-Cards include purchases involve physical goods like an Apple iWatch or a Microsoft Surface Pro. Others involve goods and services like hotels such as Hampton Inn and Doubletree. Some are simple services like a note in Count 10 which reads “the accused paid for parking at an Embassy Suites in Atlanta, Georgia to engage in a rendezvous with an escort…”

Indicted by a Grand Jury, former judge William Allen Wigington faces charges on 58 Counts of alleged criminal activity against the State of Georgia and Pickens County Government. (Photo by Courts of Pickens County)

Alternatively, if an official uses a personal credit or debit card, they can submit reimbursement forms through the Pickens County government in order to receive reimbursement. And so, according to the indictment, Allen Wigington allegedly placed certain government related goods or services on his P-Card, having Pickens County pay for the services. He then allegedly filled out “Institute of Continuing Judicial Education in Georgia reimbursement forms” for those same charges. The indictment states that he should have taken the reimbursement money and given it to Pickens County to reimburse those purchases. However, instead he allegedly kept the reimbursement funds delivered from the Institute of Continuing Judicial Education in Georgia.

Additionally, the indictment moves on to what it calls “racketeering” on 30 different occasions between October of 2016 and June of 2019 where it alleges that Wigington appropriated money with the intention of depriving Pickens County of that money by “intentionally failing to reimburse funds” for lodging, fuel, and purchased goods.

All of these allegations come in the face of the signed “Oath of Magistrate” included in the indictment, signed by Wigington on December 19, 2016, becoming an alleged breach of his oath on top of the alleged criminal activity.

The indictment can be read in it’s entirety here.

Pickens County Man Arrested for the Sexual Exploitation of Children

News, Press Release
sexual exploitation

Jasper, GA (February 8, 2021) – On Thursday, February 4, 2021, Pickens County resident, Danny Wright, age 57, was charged with one count of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material) and three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material) by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit. The GBI CEACC Unit began an investigation into Wright’s online activity after receiving a Cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the possession and distribution of suspected child pornography by Wright via the internet. This investigation led to a search warrant at Wright’s home in Jasper, Georgia, and the arrest of Wright on February 4, 2021. The GBI was assisted in the execution of the search warrant by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. Evidence from the search warrant conducted on February 4, 2021, led to additional criminal charges against Wright on February 5, 2021. On February 5, 2021, Wright was charged with Child Molestation and Invasion of Privacy.

Wright is currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail.

This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade. The ICAC Program, created by the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.

Anyone with information about other cases of child exploitation is asked to contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit at 404-270-8870. Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.

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