JASPER, Ga. – Authorities are urging citizens to exercise caution on the roads today after Pickens saw numerous trees down and power outages during the night due to storms.
The National Weather Service is continuing its Flood Warnings for the area through Saturday Morning and has added a sever weather statement saying,
Wind gusts of 20 to 30 mph will be possible through the rest of the day for portions of northern Georgia. These enhanced wind speeds combined with extremely saturated soils from the persistent rain have resulted in conditions very susceptible for trees to become uprooted and blown over. Trees may be blown onto structures, roadways or powerlines causing further power outages across the area.
The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office also cautioned citizens saying, “Please, exercise EXTREME caution as you leave your homes this morning. Please watch for low hanging wires and limbs.” They reported numerous trees down and even closed both Grandview Road and Refuge Road in the A.M. hours.
Amicalola Electric company is also reporting major outages in the area as they continue dealing with the storm. With 107 outages, they have reported close to 4,000 homes without power today. While much of these outages came in the area of Talking Rock to Mole Mountain on the Eastern side of Pickens, there are others affected all over the county. Crews are currently attending to these and working to restore power as quickly and safely as possible.
While school is currently out in Pickens County for the scheduled Winter Break, February 18th through February 22nd, those who may commute out of the county may run into slow and delayed buses from debris and trees there as well, as neighboring counties have reported slow and delayed bus routes.
There are still roads partially blocked by trees and debris, citizens should take every precaution for slower travel times and be more aware as you travel in the days to come.
JASPER, Ga. – A full extra mil on taxes, that is what citizens could expect if no cuts are made to the over $1.1 million difference between the 2018 and 2019 budgets for the Sheriff’s office.
The difference accrues over a loss of revenue including an end to the housing inmates from Sandy Springs in the Pickens Detention Center as well as $448,043 increases in the Sheriff’s Administration, Uniform Patrol, Detention Center, and School Resource Officers areas alone.
Although the budget already had at least one point ready to cut as it covered two contingencies involving either continuing overtime pay for certain staff or hiring new employees to spread the work among them. Craig noted there are 11 openings in the office that he is seeking to fill.
Like the other offices and departments, the Sheriff’s Office is seeking the 2.5% increase in salaries for employees. There are other increases such as repairs and maintenance in the office as Craig says some of the older cruisers are showing their age, with some vehicles dating back to 1996.
While the county is attempting to push some of the costs like newer vehicles among other things into the county’s next SPLOST cycle, there are many things that Craig said need immediate attention. He also noted that many of the increases involve things the Sheriff’s Office can’t control saying, “I can’t cut employees, and I can’t cut the services we have.”
He also noted increases to the demands on the office including 37,000 in call volume in this year alone. He said there hasn’t been a major increase in staffing in recent years despite doubling the call volume in the last decade.
Plans for an additional School Resource Officer and upgrading computer systems are just a small part of the changes coming. But citizens need not wait until next year to see them beginning as December will see the office going live with the upgraded Caliber System. Next year will see the $117,965 payment for the system, though.
As the Board of Commissioners are still working on the budgets, the Sheriff’s Office is working along with them to deeper analyze the office’s revenue and expenses. Chairman Jones did note that he believed the county could handle up to a $300,000 increase in the budget without needing to change the millage rate.
FYN reached out to Chairman Jones to ask when the last time a major increase like this occurred in the county’s budget. He replied saying that the county raised the Sheriff’s budget three years ago by about $700,000 to cover inadequate salaries.
If approved as is, the Sherriff’s budget will reach $7,092,649. For comparison, Pickens’ northern neighbors, Gilmer County’s Sheriff’s Budget is proposed for 2019 to total $5,673,394, that’s $1,419,255 less for a county of similar size and population.
However, this is still early in the budget process for Pickens County. As both the Board of Commissioners and the Sheriff’s Office have agreed to continue working on the budget, citizens can continue to stay informed through the county’s work session, Thursday, November 1, and special called meetings that may arise in the coming month.
One thing to note as talks continue and a final budget is set. Though discussed and agreed to under the county budget meetings, it is ultimately the Sheriff’s budget and responsibility as the elected official in 2019.
Constitutional conservative GA Senator and Candidate for GA Governor Hunter Hill came on the show this morning to discuss why he is running for Governor. Hill has been a member of the GA Senate since 2012 after returning home from his third tour of duty in Afghanistan. During this interview Hunter Hill talks about the importance of the core competencies that he would focus on in the state if elected as Governor. These being public safety, education, and transportation. Hill made the statement that the current restrictions on the education system is “stifling leadership” not just within the classroom but even into the administration within the schools. Hear all these details and more in this interview.
Shortly after the incident involving a wreck of a Tour Bus and a Semi-Truck on Highway 515 in Gilmer County, Tony Pritchett, Director of Public Safety for Gilmer County, held a conference to answer questions.
Director Pritchett stated a call came in to Gilmer County 911 at 11:02 for response to the accident.
When FYN arrived on the scene, several helicopters were still circling the area including both news choppers and Life-Flight services. The accident is suspected at this time by authorities to have occurred while a tour bus was traveling north on Highway 515 collided with a Semi-Truck who was crossing into or across the highway from Whitestone Road.
Minutes after the call came in, emergency response was on the scene to provide care and Gilmer County also responded with its Mass Casualties Trailer to aid in on-scene triage. Pritchett confirmed one fatality in the wreck belonging to the driver of the Tour bus. While four people remained uninjured, another 43 have sustained injuries requiring one to be Life-Flighted and others transported via ambulance to local hospitals including Fannin Regional Hospital, Northside Cherokee Hospital, and Piedmont Mountainside Hospital according to Pritchett.
FYN has been informed that the tour bus was carrying a majority of elderly passengers and had sustained extensive damage collapsing the front end. However, the quick response units were able to arrive and get on the bus quickly to begin caring for those on board.
More aid was quickly brought to the scene as well due to several mutual aid agreements in place with surrounding areas. In fact, authorities from Gilmer Fire and Rescue and EMS as well as Gilmer County Sheriff’s Department, Georgia State Patrol, Fannin County EMS Resources, Pickens County EMS Resources, Dawson County EMS Resources, and Murray County EMS Resources were all confirmed to be on-scene aiding with the incident. Pritchett went on to say he was “very thankful for the response of those surrounding jurisdictions, they were very helpful.”
While the limited sight distance at the location was referenced as a possible factor with the incident, no official statement was given with regards to cause or circumstance involved in the incident as the investigation is ongoing. Director Pritchett did confirm with FYN that he could recall at least one other incident involving a fatality occurring at the same location earlier this year. Witnesses have also been confirmed on scene and are speaking with officials at this time.
Currently, 515 will remain shutdown as a continuing investigation will be undertaken by the Georgia State Patrol and authorities are redirecting traffic around the accident. One traffic officer FYN talked with suggested those heading North on 515 to detour down Highway 136 to Old 5 to bypass it.
For more information on the accident and the Press Conference watch the video below and stay connected with Fetch Your News as more information becomes available.
Public Health Notice: DO NOT DRINK WATER FROM FLOODED WELLS OR SPRINGS
North Georgia – Due to recent weather conditions, any well or spring that has been covered with flood waters must be considered contaminated. Do not drink the water until after flood waters have receded, the well or spring has been disinfected with household bleach and the water has been laboratory tested. Contact the local county Environmental Health Office for questions and further instructions, if needed.
Disinfecting a Well
Well disinfection is necessary if the well or spring was covered with flood waters. Before chlorinating, it is important to check the integrity of the well or spring water source to prevent future contamination. Well construction must prevent entry of surface water, debris, insects and animals. The well casing and concrete slab should be sealed and the well cap or sanitary seal must be secure. Springs should be in a sealed spring house.
- Thoroughly clean all accessible outside surfaces removing any loose debris and mud around the well or spring. Then, wash the well area with a strong chlorine solution (1 quart of household bleach per 5 gallon of water).
- Determine the amount of water in the well. Calculate the amount of bleach chlorine needed. DO NOT USE SCENTED BLEACHES. Health officials recommend using the normal strength household bleach, which is 5.25 percent sodium hypochlorite.
- Remove the well cap or place a funnel into the small vent pipe of the well cap. Use the table below and add the appropriate amount of bleach. A minimum of 50 ppm chlorine solution is required:
|20’||3 pints||3 pints||½ gal.||½ gal.||2 gal.||3 gal.|
|40’||3 pints||3 pints||½ gal.||¾ gal.||–||–|
|80’||3 pints||½ gal.||½ gal.||¾ gal.||–||–|
|100’||3 pints||½ gal.||¾ gal.||1 gal.||–||–|
If depth and diameter are unknown, 1 gallon of bleach can be used. Extra bleach does not necessarily mean extra disinfection and can be a health hazard in itself.
DO NOT DRINK OR PREPARE FOODS WITH WATER WHILE BLEACH IS IN THE WATER SYSTEM!
- Run water from an outside faucet through a hose until a strong chlorine odor can be detected. Place the end of the hose in the well allowing the water to run down the sides of the casing and circulate for at least 15 minutes. Replace the well cap.
- Turn off the hose and enter the home opening each tap, one at a time, until the smell of chlorine can be detected. Please include hot water faucets, toilets, bathtubs, washing machine, etc.
- Once the chlorine odor reaches all outlets, let the water system stand for 8 hours, preferably overnight. Refrain from any water use during this time.
- Flush the system of chlorine by turning on an outside faucet letting it run until the chlorine odor dissipates. Finally, run indoor faucets until the water is clear and the chlorine odor is gone. Do not run any unnecessary water into the septic system or allow the chlorinated water to drain directly into a stream or pond. Continue this process until the odor of bleach is completely gone.
- The water should be laboratory tested to determine if it is safe to drink. It is recommended that over the next several weeks two additional samples be taken to be sure results are satisfactory. Repeated chlorination and/or a well professional should be called if problems remain.
- If not sure how to disinfect a well or spring, how to take a well sample or how to get laboratory results, contact the local county Environmental Health Office.
Written by Raymond King, Director of Environmental Health, North Georgia Health District 1-2
For direct access to this Public Health Notice on our website, log onto http://nghd.org/pr/34-/741-public-health-notice-do-not-drink-water-from-flooded-wells-or-springs.html