ATLANTA-Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unveils a new online portal to make it easier for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots for the November elections. Georgia voters with a driver’s license or state ID card will now be able to request an absentee ballot entirely online.
“Georgia is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to expand access to the ballot and uphold the integrity of the vote,” said Raffensperger. “We are encouraging Georgia voters who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 threat to use our new online absentee ballot request portal to request absentee ballots safely and securely from their computers or phones. This new tool will help counties stay on top of the several million absentee ballot requests expected in November.”
Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has developed a website that will allow Georgia voters to request an absentee ballot entirely online. Georgia voters will be able to request their ballot via the portal using their first and last name, date of birth, county where they are registered, and Georgia State ID or Georgia Driver’s License number. Voters will get a confirmation email that their request has been entered into the system. Also, voters can monitor their ballot status on My Voter Page.
Absentee ballots requested for the November 2020 presidential election cannot be sent out before September 15.
In the past, Georgia voters had to download and print an absentee ballot request, then scan and email it or put it in the mail. This new portal saves voters effort and postage and will increase confidence that the request has been received by county elections officials. It also makes it easier and faster for county election official to process absentee ballot requests by minimizing the possibility of data entry errors.
While the State ID or driver’s license number provide a secure safeguard for requesting ballots, the ballots themselves will still be verified by matching the voter signature to their signature on file upon submission. A record 1.6 million absentee ballot requests were received for the June primary, inundating county elections officials. This portal will make processing the large number of absentee ballot requests expected for the November election easier for county election officials to process quickly and accurately.
JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County Elections & Registration Supervisor Julianne Roberts issued the following statement today urging citizens to take advantage of early voting ahead of the March 24 election day.
Pickens County Board of Elections & Registration would like to encourage all voters to take advantage of Advanced Voting at this time. Due to concerns from the coronavirus (COVID-19), we anticipate that the time required to vote in the upcoming Presidential Preference Primary on March 24th will be significantly increased. To avoid longer wait times, we strongly encourage you to vote early at 83 Pioneer Rd during regular office hours (Mon-Fri) 8-5. The Saturday Voting will take place at the Elections Office from 9-4 on March 14th.
Julianne Roberts, Supervisor
Pickens County Elections & Registration
Retired Army veteran and U.S. Dept. of HUD Inspector Andy Gunther officially announces his candidacy for Georgia’s 14th District Congressional seat.
A former Airborne Instructor, Ranger, competitive (military rifle) marksmanship Gold Medalist, and R.O.T.C. instructor at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Gunther served as Civil Military Affairs Administrator in Kosovo. In that capacity, he frequently met with community leaders, citizens and non-governmental organizations. Gunther additionally helped coordinate humanitarian aid efforts to a municipality of 43 villages following a magnitude 5.7 earthquake. It was during Gunther’s military service that he learned the importance of servant leadership.
Following his military retirement, Gunther completed his MBA in Management from the University of West Georgia, where he was inducted into Omicron Delta Kappa, a national leadership honor society. Gunther also established a small business servicing government contracts for the U.S. Dept. of HUD. His daily work significantly improves the quality of life for thousands who live within the 14th District and throughout the United State and Puerto Rico.
Andy Gunther was born in Stuttgart, Germany where his father was stationed. When his father, an Army veteran of the Korea and Vietnam wars retired after 26 years of service, Andy’s family moved to Maryland. Even as a youth, Gunther served in a leadership role on an active and very successful ground search and rescue team in Civil Air Patrol, where he first learned valuable skills as a servant leader. Gunther started working at age 13 on cattle, poultry and produce farms. He also worked after school as a restaurant laborer and cook and in a production facility making rail road flares.
Gunther’s passion to serve his nation led him to join the Army in 1981 as the youngest person in his training company. Gunther served more than twenty-years in arduous duty stations and challenging leadership roles as an Airborne Infantryman and Ranger. During those years Gunther still found time to volunteer with Special Olympics, chaperone the seniors on their church outings and serve as a Boy Scout leader and youth athletic coach.
Upon retirement, Andy Gunther and his wife, Victoria, and two sons Christopher and Jonathan, returned to Victoria’s home town of Bremen, in Haralson County. Once again, Gunther volunteered as a Boy Scout leader and later as Civil Air Patrol Squadron Commander and air and ground search team member for the Rome Composite Squadron at Richard B. Russell Regional Airport. Gunther additionally enjoyed teaching Discipleship classes, participating on the pre-school board and singing in choir at his church.
As a member and current Vice Chair of the Haralson County Republican Party, Gunther serves as a member of the 14th District Committee and previously served on the Rules Committee and as sergeant-at arms during district conventions. Additionally, Gunther has participated in numerous county, district and State conventions as well as volunteering for many grassroots campaigns since 2003.
Now, Gunther wants to bring that same servant leadership to the 14th District. “I believe God has called me to humbly serve in the most significant way I know how, as your Congressman.”
As a staunch constitutional conservative, Gunther believes that this country was founded on Christian principles and that “the separation of church and state” is a lie. Our Republic apart from God is doomed to fail as evidenced by the events we continue to witness throughout the country.
“I also believe the two issues that most directly affect people in this district,” said Gunther, “are the opioid crisis and solving the shortage of foster care. Children in need of foster care should not be shipped across the state, out of their own communities.”
You can learn more about Andy Gunther by visiting his campaign website, AndyGunther.com, Facebook or Twitter. Early voting for the Republican primary starts April 27th.
JASPER, Ga. – Many citizens in Pickens County have been closely following the developments in the Superintendent position at Pickens Board of Education (BOE) through a series of Special Called Meetings as well as those regular scheduled in the final days of 2019 and early days of 2020.
Even FYN reported statements from Wilson that he would offer a written statement of the proceedings as he resigned during one of the called meetings on December 19, 2019.
Later he was nearly reinstated as questions arose about the validity of the “emergency meetings.” But was voted down by Chairman Tucker Green, board member Joeta Youngblood, and board member Donna Enis.
This week, Dr. Carlton Wilson released a public letter to citizens fulfilling his promise of a written statement from last month. That letter follows:
Dear Pickens County,
Cindy and I wanted to take a moment to express our thanks to you as a community. When we relocated here more than 25 years ago we knew we had found our home. Cindy and I love living in and being a part of this community. We have raised our family here and we have worked to be a part of the community in every aspect. I knew when I interviewed for a teaching job here that this was the place I wanted to teach, coach, and live. Having had an opportunity to serve as your Superintendent of Schools was one of the greatest honors of my life thus far. I know we have one of the best school systems in the state of Georgia, some of the greatest staff, students, and parents.
We have been overwhelmed and extremely humbled by the love and support from the people of Pickens County. This is just another reason Pickens County is a great place to live. We love this county and I especially love our school system. The past month has been very difficult and confusing.
Our current school board is the third school board that I have served with as your superintendent. As school boards change board members, even just one, their personalities, priorities, and visions can change. Each school board is different from the boards they replaced. However, I felt it was very important to continual and complete the goals our previous boards had established not knowing these priorities, goals, and visions had changed. The current board never shared with me that that their priorities or visions changed for our school system. As Superintendent, I have always followed the strategic plan and direction that I was given. That was my job.
I am very proud of the accomplishments, partnerships, and relationships our school system developed over the past couple of years. I am very happy I can say I left the school district knowing every employee received a raise while we reduced the mileage rate for the fourth consecutive year. This took teamwork and I was proud to be a part of it.
I realize when information is not given, people will fill the void with rumors. Just to be clear, 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. Concerning decisions that I made during my tenure as superintendent, I can assure you that every major decision was made with the school board’s understanding and approval. However, I take full responsibility for all day to day operational issues. Again, that was my job.
It has been a privilege serving the students, staff, and residents of Pickens County. I wish the greatest success to our school system and especially the young people they serve. The students deserve stability and strong leadership from our next Superintendent and the principal’s of our schools. Our teachers deserve the support of not only the board and school leadership but the community. I encourage you to help our community move forward by investing in our school district and helping them move to the next level. Cindy and I are excited to see what the future holds and I look forward to continuing to serve our great community in the future.
Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson
ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) issued the following statement on the news that Georgia’s senior United States Senator Johnny Isakson will resign from office at the end of the year:
“The loss of Johnny Isakson from public life will leave a void in Georgia which is beyond comprehension. While I respect his reasons, I feel a tremendous sense of personal sadness – Johnny is a mentor, role model and friend. Over a distinguished career in the Georgia House, Georgia State Senate, State Board of Education, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Johnny Isakson demonstrated that civility and reasonableness are virtues that will never go out of style. My family and I will continue to pray for Johnny, Dianne and the Isakson family.”
Road improvements continue …On time, on budget…
JASPER, Ga. – Work could begin soon on an intersection improvement project on State Route (SR) 515 in Pickens County. Georgia DOT has just awarded a contract to Bartow Paving Company, Inc. of Cartersville, Georgia, valued at nearly two million dollars for a construction project to improve an intersection on the highway. The project includes improving the intersection of SR 515 with Antioch Church Road in Northern Pickens County.
This construction project is scheduled to be completed by the end of March 2019, at a construction cost of $1,546,973. Information on construction and lane closure schedules on this project will be forthcoming before work begins.
More details on this and other projects in the Department’s most recent bid awards are available via the Award Announcement Download here.
The public is urged to “know before you go.” For real-time information on active construction, incidents and more, call 511 or visit www511ga.org before you get into your car.
Roadway work zones are hazardous for workers and for the public. In fact, most fatalities in work zones crashes are drivers or passengers. Obey the rules in work zones – Pay Attention – Slow Down – Watch for Workers. And always, expect the unexpected. It can make the difference between life and death. Remember – work zone safety is in your hands.
JASPER, Ga. – Following a tip from a concerned citizen Monday, May 21, 2018, deputies responded to a residence in the Twin Mountain Lake area of Pickens County. Upon their arrival, deputies observed the partially buried corpses of multiple dogs and observed several additional dogs coming in and out of a residence that appeared to be abandoned.
Upon obtaining a search warrant, deputies and detectives were forced to wear breathing apparatuses to enter the home due to the odor of decay and fecal matter throughout the residence. During the execution of the search warrant, deputies discovered two other dogs living in crates found inside the home. Additional dogs were found to be roaming in and out of the home. According to detectives, every horizontal surface of the home was covered with fecal matter and filth.
During the investigation, detectives were able to learn that the residence belonged to Thomas Lamar Raye and that it had been vacated months before the welfare check. Deputies also learned that James William Raye, the son of Thomas, had been “caring” for the animals by feeding them.
While on scene, a local veterinarian was requested to come to the scene along with Animal Shelter employees from Pickens County, the Pickens County Marshals Office, and Pickens County Fire and EMS. In addition, animal control officers from Cherokee County responded to assist in the capture of the remaining dogs at large. The local veterinarian stated that this case of abuse was the most “disgustingly filthy” that he had witnessed in 20 years.
Four of the dogs that were able to be captured were evaluated by veterinarians and found to all have hookworms and roundworms. All dogs are currently in the care of the Pickens County Animal Shelter and being treated for their ailments. Traps are still remaining at the residence to attempt to rescue any remaining dogs that were unable to be caught on site.
Detectives were able to obtain arrest warrants for both James and Thomas Raye for two felony counts of aggravated cruelty to animals and four misdemeanor counts of Cruelty to Animals. Both have been arrested and are held at the Pickens County Adult Detention Center awaiting a first appearance hearing before the judge to determine bond amounts and conditions.
(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.
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.
July 10, 2018
As we embark on an exciting new school year, we are always looking for ways to enhance the
education of our students as well as assist parents in their beginning of the school year
preparations. Because of this, the Pickens County School System is pleased to announce for the
upcoming school year, our schools will provide the classroom supplies that your child will need
to complete his/her school work. While consumables such as paper, pencils, hand sanitizer, etc.
will be provided by the school, parents are free to purchase additional items such as backpacks,
lunchboxes, etc. if they choose.
We are looking forward to a positive year filled with many educational experiences for each
and every student enrolled with us. We hope that providing students with the supplies they need
will help accomplish this goal.
Dr. Carlton Wilson
Superintendent of Pickens County School System
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Education wishes to inform citizens of the procedures for Inclement Weather and Early Dismissal. The following is an official release from the BOE concerning parents and students.
INCLEMENT WEATHER AND EARLY DISMISSAL PROCEDURES
Do you know how your child is getting home?
Jasper, Georgia – Now that it seems we have definitely entered into winter, the Pickens County School
District wants to make sure you are aware of how we will proceed in case of inclement weather. Our
number one priority is to make sure our students and staff are safe.
EARLY RELEASE / DISMISSAL
At the beginning of every school year, each parent completes a form where a choice is made regarding what
your child will do in case school is released early. Should school ever be released early, your child will go
home based on your selection on the form. Following this procedure allows us to account for all students
and make sure they are safe, which is the most important part of what we do.
If you need to make changes, those need to be handled before inclement weather takes place. This can be
done by sending in a note to the school along with your child’s name, whether your child will be a car rider or
bus rider (include their bus number), your signature, and a telephone number. We have specific protocols
and procedures we follow because it is extremely difficult for our school office staff to handle large volumes
of calls and notify teachers with last minute changes. Also, we ask that you not email teachers with changes
in how your child should be transported for early release. There is no way to guarantee a message is
HOW YOU WILL BE NOTIFIED
In the case of early release, start time delays, or school closings, the school district will utilize the Infinite
Campus Messenger service to notify parents and guardians. The Messenger service sends phone calls,
emails, and notifications to your Infinite Campus account. It is critical that you notify central registration or
the school if your phone number changes.
If there is a need for a delayed start time, we will make that call as early as possible, and hopefully no later
than 5:30 or 6:00 a.m. Weather is unpredictable, so there may be an occasion that the call comes a little
For school closings, you can also tune in to Atlanta news stations, district and school Facebook pages, and
local news media – Know Pickens, Pickens Progress, and Fetch Your News.
Again, our first priority is the safety and well-being of our students and staff. We want everyone to arrive
safely to their destination. Also of great concern to the district is the number of inexperienced high school
drivers who are new to driving in inclement weather.
Make certain that you take care of updating telephone numbers and transportation directions before a
weather event occurs.
Jasper, Ga – Authorities have met a major incident as they executed a search warrant at the local A1 Smoke Shop in Jasper, Georgia.
During the execution of the search warrant today, September 14, members of the Drug Task Force, Pickens Sheriff’s Office, and Jasper City Police were exposed to an unidentified substance that immediately brought down one detective. Others also became exposed in attempts to help treat the detective. According to an official release by Sgt. Jody Weaver, Administrative Services Division of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office, “As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.”
Unconfirmed reports indicate the substance may have been made airborne during the search, but reports at this time indicate the exposure is not life-threatening.
According to their official release, “The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire.”
Additionally, authorities have closed businesses in close proximity to the location and evacuated citizens from the area for safety.
With Haz-Mat teams investigating the substances, authorities are declining to release certain details of the active investigation, but indicate that they will be releasing more information about the incident later.
With the recent rise of vaping devices being used to inhale drugs ranging from Methamphetamines to THC Oil to Synthetic Marijuana, it is likely this warrant could be part of an official response to the trend in our schools, though no official statement identifies why they were executing a search warrant. The District Attorney’s office is currently undertaking a series of assemblies at the middle and high schools of Pickens, Fannin, and Gilmer.
At this point, it is actually quite common to find controlled substances in vape devices across America, especially in schools as reports continue to flood the media about students falling unconscious or having severe reactions, even seizures because of what they may or may not know they are inhaling.
See the full media release below:
“Pickens County law enforcement have encountered a suspected unknown powder substance during execution of a search warrant – Deputies and other public safety adversely affected.”
On the morning of Friday, September 14, 2018, the Drug Task Force, along with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office and the City of Jasper Police Department executed a search warrant at the A-1 Smoke Shop located at 684 West Church Street in Jasper, Georgia. During the search of the premises, a Detective with the Pickens Sheriff’s Office came in contact with an unknown substance which immediately resulted in the Detective experiencing adverse health conditions and symptoms. The affected Detective was transported to the local hospital for immediate treatment. Public safety personnel who were exposed while treating the affected Detective also began experiencing similar reactions. As of this release, two Detectives, a DTF Agent and two EMS personnel are being treated now for symptoms.
The Cherokee County Hazardous Materials Team has dispatched to the scene to assist, along with all surrounding public safety agencies including the Pickens Fire & EMS and City of Jasper Fire. Businesses in close proximity to the location have been evacuated as a safety precaution, and Haz-Mat teams are preparing to enter the premises to thoroughly investigate and identify the cause of the health issues with our public safety personnel.
As this is an active investigation, more information will be provided as it becomes available.
JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County Schools Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson announced in a press release on the school system’s website Saturday, Jan. 20, three scheduled make-up dates in February for missed school days as a result of recent winter weather.
We are very concerned with the academic time our students have missed during this very difficult winter. Our 2017-2018 school calendar includes three weather make-up days during Winter Break in February.
After much consideration, we have made the decision to make up three of of the 12 days our students have missed. The make-up dates are as follows:
- Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2018
- Thursday, Feb. 22, 2018
- Friday, Feb. 23, 2018
If we continue to miss school days for inclement weather or other unforeseen circumstances, we will have to consider the option to make up days during our 2018 Spring Break.
As always, our first priority is the safety and best interest of our students.
According to the Pickens County Schools website, the Pickens County Schools 2018 spring break mentioned in Wilson’s statement occurs Monday, April 2, through Friday, April 6.
Continue to follow FetchYourNews throughout the winter for the latest weather coverage and school, business and office closings.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
The Pickens County Chamber of Commerce would like to congratulate Dragonflies Birthdays & Events on their ribbon cutting for their business.
Dragonflies is introducing a unique approach to events in the north Georgia area. While they specialize in children’s birthday parties, they are excited to offer a variety of services that are easily customized to fit your needs.
Dragonflies offer a venue that is affordable to fit any budget. If you are looking for a place to host an anniversary party, bridal or baby showers, meetings, reunions and intimate weddings, they are the place!
For more information on Dragonflies Birthdays & Events and many other businesses that are members of the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce, please give us a call at 706-692-5600 or visit our website at www.pickenschamber.com.
JASPER, Ga. – A Georgia Department of Transportation (DOT) maintenance crew resumes today its work on replacing the obliterated and damaged reflective raised pavement markers on state Route 136 in Pickens County. Work will proceed daily Tuesday through Friday from 7:30 a.m. until 5:30 p.m. This maintenance operation and the lane closures it necessitates are weather permitting and subject to change.
Georgia DOT maintains over 2,000 lane-miles in northwest Georgia. Relatively harsh winters and snowplows used to clear the region’s interstates and state routes from snow and ice present a challenge to the DOT crews who are charged with maintaining lane markers on the roads. These crews follow Federal Highway Administration standards for markings and do their best to keep up. They also work almost continuously re-striping faded markers and replacing missing reflective raised pavement markers. Still, the volume of traffic on the highways, snow removal in the winter and sunny summers all weigh heavily on the durability of the lane markers.