JASPER, Ga. – Pickens saw celebrations and attendance from many officials as all three members of the Pickens County Board of Commissioners met to cut the ribbon on the new Tate Fire Station.
The new facility is the second-largest fire station in Pickens County now that it is open and hosts larger drive-through bay doors to accommodate future plans for equipment and hosts the fully drive-through bay area to prevent the larger trucks from needing to back out.
Pickens Fire Chief Sloan Elrod said, “I want to thank all the citizens that voted on SPLOST, without SPLOST this would be very tough to be in this building, to have our new trucks.”
Several officials from across the county were also in attendance including representatives from the Pickens Board of Education, Cherokee Fire Fighters, the Copeland family who sold the land to the county for the station, the Pickens Sheriff Office, and Jasper Fire Department among others.
With those wider bay doors on the new fire station, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones said this is part of a direction towards housing a Quint. A quint is a multi-use fire truck that serves multiple purposes based on needs including pump, water tank, fire hose, aerial device, and ground ladders.
Jones said that the board is looking at better and bigger equipment for the community. Part of the opening of this station and the continuing goal that Jones noted is lowering the ISO Rating. This insurance rating, as noted in previous fire station openings and other counties, affects the insurance costs.
With Tate’s upgrade into the new station, Jones said the county’s rating is down to a four. Continuing along with past years planning to increase the fire department and lower the rating.
Additionally, the new station will also see the change to constantly hosting three paid firefighters every day according to Elrod. Jones echoed this saying they are still relying on volunteers in the county and want to continue utilizing them even though they will constantly have three on staff in Tate at Fire Station 2.
JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County Citizens are breathing an extra sigh of relief today as news is spreading that the major construction and repairs of Jones Mountain Road are officially complete.
Citizens have been avoiding the road at first, and later dealing with only one open lane, since February 22, 2019, when a landslide took out a portion of the road and undermined the stability of the remainder. As county commissioners declared a local emergency in the situation, recovery began within that same week when inspectors came to assess the damage.
According to Pickens County Public Information Officer Tucker Green, the project has seen delays with one paving company backing out of the project, weather delays, and smaller issues popping up. The county has appreciated citizen’s patience with the project as Green said, “We sympathize for the inconvenience.”
According to an official release from the county, “GSI (contractors) and EXP Services Inc. (project engineers) completed the project and final inspections have been approved. This project which was caused by a natural disaster – landslide earlier in the year was declared a local emergency by the Board of Commissioners.”
It went on to add,”The work required was substantial and included: installation of a 380’ long Soil Nail Wall and a 20’ tall Geosynthetically Confined Soil Wall in the most severe portion of the landslide. Additionally, a guardrail and fencing were installed for safety precautions and both lanes of the road were resurfaced.
County Commission Chairman Rob Jones called the incident “A pretty good hit for a small county like Pickens,” back in March. But said this week, “With the amount of work and meeting state requirements along with the financial assistance from the Governor’s Office and the D.O.T., that area should be good for many years to come.”
Green also pointed to the assistance as a major boon to the project. The grant came in April with an expectation to quickly open one lane quickly and another two months to fully repair the road.
Green estimated that project to have a completed total just over $2 million, but exact expenses will come through financial reports with the county.
JASPER, Ga. – Representatives from all across Pickens County met Thursday, July 25, to cut the ribbon and officially open Pickens Fire Station 12.
Pickens’ Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones, Post Commissioners Becky Denney and Jerry Barnes, Jasper City Councilmember Dr. Sonny Proctor, Jasper City Manager Brandon Douglas, Jasper Fire Chief Steve Roper, and even members of Cherokee County Fire Department visited the new station on Thursday to greet citizens and tour the facility after the ceremony.
Working for years on this project, Jones said it began with planning in the current SPLOST and is an asset on moving forward with making the area safer and lower the ISO (Insurance Service Organization) Rating of 10 at the site.
The project, according to Jones, was only possible through the support of citizens and their support for the SPLOST. It boasts three bays, full living facilities, and a weather-safe room built to protect inhabitants during extreme weather and dangers that come with it.
Be sure to check out more photos of the station and the ribbon cutting at FYN’s Facebook Album.
Pickens County Fire Station 12 is officially open on July 25, 2019!
Posted by Fetch Your News on Friday, July 26, 2019
ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.
Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.
However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.
That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.
While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”
Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic, both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”
Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.
Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”
Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.
These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”
President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.
Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.
In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.
In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.
Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.
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.
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.
JASPER, GA. – Much of the Board’s meeting focused on continuations of present items as they reappointed members to boards and authorities and continued as the agent for a grant.
Family Connections requested the continuation of the Board of Commissioners acting as the fiscal agent of the Family Education Grant. Finance Director Faye Harvey said that either the Board of Commissioners or the Board of Education has to be the agent on the grant. She also noted that the expenses for the grant are reimbursed quarterly.
County Commission Chairman Rob Jones stated that the county has “done this for a few years now.” The motion came for approval by giving the chairman the authority to sign the agreement.
The Board also reappointed John Tatum, Phillip O’Bryant, and Jack Brown to the Pickens County Water and Sewer Authority and Lee Thrasher to the Pickens County Planning Commission.
Also continuing previous work, a resolution was passed by the board confirming the use of the land where the Veteran’s Memorial currently is and the land south of that as well as the property west of the parking lot for honoring veterans of Pickens County.
The Veteran’s Memorial currently in place stands as an achievemnt for both Pickens County and the City of Jasper, but continuing further developments are possible with the confirmation of this property.
Though this doesn’t guarantee the land for any one organization, it is set aside for that use.
DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – What has been a simmering disagreement between Dawson and Pickens counties for months, erupted into something far more serious Monday when it was learned that Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones plans to violate an intergovernmental agreement (IGA) that has existed between the two counties since 2008.
Jones has made it clear Pickens County will take over training for the volunteer firefighters at Station 8 in the Wildcat Community, part of which lies inside both counties.
Dawson County Manager David Headley said Jones’ decision violates Section 5 of the IGA which states: “Dawson County shall provide training, equipment and workers compensation insurance for up to ten volunteer firefighters.”
It could also violate Section 12 of the IGA if Pickens plans to pullout of the agreement completely. Section 12 states: “The terms of the agreement shall be renewed automatically each year unless 180 days written notice of termination is provided by the other party.”
“I’m disappointed with the position (Jones) has taken,” Headley said Monday morning. “Dawson County has always been there for that community. Unfortunately the Pickens County Chairman has chosen not to adhere to the IGA.”
Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Director Danny Thompson said he has a training class scheduled for the volunteers at Station 8 tomorrow (Dec. 4) at 6 p.m.
Jones decision to violate the IGA places volunteers in the difficult position of deciding whether to attend training provided by Dawson or Pickens counties. Sources have told Fetch Your News the volunteers are being pressured to attend the Pickens training which won’t begin for several more weeks.
Fetch Your News reached out to Chairman Jones but he did not return our phone call.
Station 8 was constructed in 2008. Under the terms of the IGA, Pickens County assumed responsibility for acquiring the land, making improvements to the land, construction of the station, building and contents insurance and LP gas.
Dawson County’s responsibilities include operation of the station, providing fire apparatus, including a fire engine and tanker truck, training and equipping the volunteers as well as administrative support and leadership.
The agreement worked well until recently when a dispute arose over the need for an additional water tank. The existing tank at Station 8 holds only 45,000 gallons of water and once it is drained, it takes several days to refill. The need for an additional water source was driven home last month when a home on Burnt Mountain Ridge Road was destroyed by fire.
In a townhall meeting following that fire — which Headley said was meant to ambush Dawson County officials — Clayton Preble, president of the Wildcat Community, said there was a firm agreement that Dawson County would provide a tank and move it and that Pickens County would construct the foundation.
Headley said that is nonsense. “There was an informal discussion but it never went any further than that,” he said. “Something like that would have to be approved by the Board of Commissioners and the issue was never placed before them.”
Headley said former Emergency Services Director Lanier Swafford located a tank the county could have obtained for the price of moving it, which Swafford estimated to be about $10,000. But the actual cost turned out to be much higher — between $50,000 and $60,000. Moreover, no contractor was willing to bid on moving it.
Headley and Thompson spent more than an hour being grilled by the residents of Wildcat Community during the townhall meeting while Jones sat in the back of the room and was never questioned.
“It seems like their refusal to adhere to the IGA is in retaliation for us not giving them what they want with regard to the water tank,” Headley said.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com
JASPER, Ga. – January’s meeting of the Pickens County Board of Commissioners brought with it the final budget report of FY 2018.
Entering the new year showcases departments both over and under. Most notably, the budget sat at 97.92% ($25,648,382) of total revenue collected.
On the other side, total expenditures came in at 92.72% ($24,287,881).
Individual Departments and Offices over-budget at the end of December include:
- Sheriff was budgeted at $6,663,915. The 2019 Actual was $6,759,370, achieving 101.43% of the budget.
- Probation & Drug Abuse Funds was budgeted at $27,500. The 2019 ACtual was $58,984, achieving 214.49% of the budget.
- General Gov Buildings was budgeted at $420,728. The 2019 Actual was $522,158, achieving 124.11% of the budget.
- Superior Court & Grant Admin was budgeted at $365,124. The 2019 Actual was $395,334, achieving 140.14% of the budget.
- Economic Development was budgeted at $56,273. The 2019 Actual was $56,768, achieving 100.88% of the budget.
Be sure to see the full budget provided by Pickens County below.
JASPER, Ga. – A press release from Pickens County could indicate a positive movement on the recent troubles and issues of Dawson County Fire Station 8.
Pickens County Commission Chairman Robert Jones and Dawson County Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond met on Wednesday the 12th to discuss the recent discrepancies involving Fire Station 8 located off Monument Road. The meeting was productive in making clear the desires and expectations of both counties. The Chairmen agreed the most crucial aspect is to provide adequate fire protection for both counties’ citizens. The two men representing their respected Boards tentatively agreed to work together to solve these discrepancies and guarantee proper service to this area. The Chairmen also tentatively agreed to begin renegotiating a new Intergovernmental Agreement that will reflect the desires of both government agencies as well as the citizens in the affected community. Chairman Jones believes the meeting was in good faith from both sides and is appreciative for Chairman Thurmond’s willingness to build constructively on the partnership between both counties. Chairman Jones is optimistic in the direction this situation has taken and believes the result will be beneficial to all involved.
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners held their December work session for department updates. With nothing else but General Discussion on the agenda, no action was discussed for later this month.
However, one point arose as Chairman Rob Jones took a moment in general discussion to address Post Commissioners Becky Denney and Jerry Barnes about a rising issue on the eastern side of Pickens County. Though nothing was set for specifics, Jones noted he wanted to get training sessions for Authority Boards in the county. With some Boards able to bond and perform other tasks in the county, Jones said he wants the people on these boards to know “what the process is and what it does to the tax base of the county or city.”
Jones also took time to address (25:25 in video) a rising issue in Pickens as he spoke pubicly that the Board has been approached about taking control of a Fire Station on Burnt Mountain. The issue has been rising between Dawson and Pickens Counties over the recent months. Dawson County Fire Station 8 is located inside of Pickens County and operated under an intergovernmental agreement. The area served by this volunteer fire station actually reaches across both counties.
Jones noted he still wants to maintain the automatic aid agreement between the two counties even as the Board goes forward with requests from several in the area. Jones stated, “Our main goal is for the protection and cooperation of the citizens in that community.”
Stay with FYN as we sit down with Rob Jones to speak about the rising issue between the two counties.
JASPER, Ga. – As part of his 27-day bus tour, Georgia Governor candidate Brian Kemp stopped at the Appalachian Gun, Pawn, and Range to visit locals and connect with Georgians during his campaign.
Kemp stated about the tour, “We’ve been having to really work hard on our fundraising to offset the billionaires in California and New York that are funding my opponent’s campaign. We’ve done that. Now, we’re hitting the road and we’re going to keep moving …”
Stopping into his Pickens location a little after 10 a.m., Kemp was joined by U.S. Congressman Doug Collins, State Senator Steve Gooch, and State Representative Rick Jasperse, who all spoke on his behalf at the stump speech. Additionally, State Senator Chuck Payne was also present.
Even local Pickens County Commission Chairman Rob Jones attended the event as he said yes he is officially supporting Kemp saying, “He knows where we are at, he knows who we are, and he knows what kind of support we’ve got here.”
Gooch welcomed citizens to the event and called for support for electing Republicans across the state offices, spearheaded with Brian Kemp’s campaign for Governor saying, “We all have to get our families, our friends, and our selves to the polls and elect these good conservatives that are running.”
Jasperse added to the call to get more people to the polls saying that the next four weeks needed hard work to get those not present at the rally to vote as well. “We’ve got to have all of us joining hands to elect our next governor… to make sure that we elect a great Georgian who is going to reflect our values.”
Collins also spoke at the event. Building up the crowd, he called the legislation in Washington D.C. a fight in need of help from the country saying, “It’s got to start at home… I don’t want to know what you would have done on November 7. I don’t want to know who you would have called on November 7. I want to start today and say how many of you are willing to text people today, on October 1, and say, ‘Voting is coming up, I need you to go vote for Brian Kemp.'”
Kemp called Georgia politics a fight as well since he is running against a radical. Quoting his campaign slogan to “Put Georgians First,” Kemp spoke about cutting regulations and aiding the small businesses like his hosts, Appalachian Gun, Pawn, and Range. He said he wanted to lower Georgia’s taxes as opposed to his opponent’s plan “to raise your taxes even though she hasn’t paid her own.”
Saying it is not Georgia’s values that she holds, he said he wants to continue the work that the senators and representatives that were at the rally with him have started.
Kemp attacked Abrams’ plans for big government in education saying, “She believes in more government education, more mandates, more big government programs that don’t work. She wants to do away with SSO Scholarships, she wants to do away with private pre-K providers, and she wants to give the Hope Scholarship to non-citizens. That is not what we want.”
Kemp instead advocated for local control, school choice, and better education funding as he noted that for the first time ever, the QBE program has been funded.
Kemp also attacked the healthcare programs saying that she ultimately wants a single-payer government run healthcare system and a three-fold increase in taxes to pay for it. Kemp opposed the program saying, “We need private sector solutions to create a better market, to lower costs on healthcare.”
Calling on those present to help the campaign and urge others to vote, Kemp said, “The stakes have never been higher. We are literally battling the socialists and the radical left from all over this country. They are pouring money into this race. But they can’t vote, and you can.”
He colloquially told people to “put some more gas in that chainsaw. Get your ax and your mattock out, and keep chopping wood.”
He said the race isn’t a foregone conclusion, calling the other side motivated. Kemp urged his voters and supporters to be more motivated saying, “If you turned out here for the presidential election to elect Donald Trump, we need you to turn out here to elect Brian Kemp.”
The event turned out over 400 people to hear Kemp speak and support the campaign. One citizen, Dianne Traynham, said she was there because she was interested in what Kemp has said and his support for rural Georgia. She added that her daughter is a teacher and Kemp’s pledge to take care of the state’s teachers was a major reason for her support.
Another citizen, Brandi Dean, said she “absolutely, 100%” voted for Kemp in the primary, and wants to do it again. She added that Kemp is not afraid to share his Christian values and morals and is not afraid to put them out there. Sharing those same values, she was excited to see him in Pickens County.
Both women said that visiting Pickens county specifically was meaningful and showed that he recognized how important the rural counties are in the election.
Wrapping up the speeches, a special presentation was held as Ralph and Kim Fitts, owners of Appalachian Gun, Pawn, and Range, presented Kemp with a Smith & Wesson Governor, a snub-nosed revolver. In celebration of Kemp’s visit, Kim Fitts said they would be sending the gun into Smith & Wesson to have “Governor Brian Kemp” engraved on the barrel of the gun.
For more photos from the event, visit the FetchYourNews Facebook Page.
JASPER, Ga. – A Special Called Meeting saw the Pickens County Board of Commissioners approve a resolution to officially adhere to election results from November.
The Sunday Sales question on Novembers ballot resulted in 63.55% approval, that’s 8,205 votes. Though election results showed the county’s wishes, it still had to be approved by the Board. Though almost a formality, the election results were followed with a 3-0 vote by the Commissioners to approve the resolution.
Effective immediately after the vote, Chairman Rob Jones clarified with County Attorney Philip Landrum that this allows the sell of spirits on Sundays with a few notable exceptions including holidays like Easter Sunday and Christmas. This will be allowed from 11 a.m. to 11:59 p.m. on Sundays.
Though the county already has resolutions for beer and wine, this resolution allows for the sales of distilled spirits.
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.
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners Chairman Rob Jones met with members of the community April 17 to officially sign the county’s proclamation declaring April “Sexual Assault Awareness Month.”
The proclamation urges “all citizens to observe this month by becoming aware of the reality and tragedy of sexual assault, and by supporting the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network in its efforts to end sexual violence and exploitation.”
Joined in support at the meeting, Kerri Henderson, Pickens County supervisor for the Court-Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), and Shelly Cantrell, Student Services for Pickens County Schools, showed just a small portion of the network of support the Crisis Network has established to answer the need for those victimized. Elaine Cannon, interim executive director at the North Georgia Mountain Crisis Network, said the community that makes up the supporting organizations are the key to taking care of those in need.
Proclamations like this one from county and city governments show the official and legal face of supporting the cause as the “awareness” that becomes part of shepherding those in need to those who can help, but also in keeping the Crisis Network open with official support when they seek grants and funding to continue their work.
Another part of the network’s need for awareness, Cannon explained that some victims may not come forward for care due to stigma or fear. Explaining the options for victims and those who just need an advocate in a time of shock or confusion and others needing guidance and support going through investigations or medical care is something that these people may not realize. Catering to every need from a retreat, shelter, or support in a court case, the network continues to build upon the entire support structure to continue, without interruption, to provide for the people they help.
Cannon told FetchYourNews, “If we can work together that way, it ensures that the people get a more broad arena of services … Of course, none of us can provide everything they need all the time, but together we can.”
JASPER, Ga. – The Pickens County Board of Commissioners could see major changes to its water system in February.
Two issues dealing with the subject will affect the county moving forward. However, many citzens may not see these changes right away. That is because the first issue is set to strengthen the county’s water back-up power system in emergencies, and the second will only affect rates for meters two inches or larger.
The county has secured an Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Generator Grant. According to a report the county heard in its work session, the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) visited Pickens to view the water pump sites in the county. After going through paperwork and traveling across the county, GEMA has signed off on the grant and the county should receive the money, $185,115, by the end of February to move forward with adding a backup generator to another of the county’s water pumps to maintain water access through power outages in situations like storms, a tornado, or other disasters. The county is matching $24,000 in the project works for the grant.
Additionally, the representative from GEMA saw other sites to add five more generators to complete the backup power of the county’s water including one at the public works to help with concerns over the fuel depot. Having already taken the representative to these other locations could expedite the pre-application for grants on these other sites.
The other issue discussed at their work session focused on a rate increase being requested by the Pickens County Water & Sewer Authority to compensate for an increase in water drawn from a business in the area; however, the specific business was not disclosed. The increase is not going to every customer, rather only the large meters two inches and bigger. The increase comes on the heels of information that the one customer has been drawing, on average, 190,000 gallons of water per day.
The current look of the water rates, according to the county’s website, looks like this:
WATER RATES & METER FEES
¾ inch meter …… $36.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons .
1 inch meter…… $51.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
2 inch meter……$66.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
3 inch meter……$76.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
4 inch meter……$81.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
6 inch meter…. $111.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
$5.00 per thousand above 1,000 up to 3,000 gallons
$6.00 per thousand above 3,000 up to 5,000 gallons
$7.00 per thousand above 5,000 gallons and above
FH meter…. $36.00 Minimum per thousand up to 1,000 gallons
$4.25 per thousand above 1,000 gallons
Since the county can only pull 280,000 gallons of water from Cherokee County per day, before incurring a heavy surcharge, to supplement the water usage, the Authority is requesting their rate increase. Currently, the top end rate stands at $7 per thousand for anything 5,000 and above, but the increase will change it to $7 per thousand from 5,000 to 10,000 gallons and $9 per thousand for anything 10,000 gallons and above.
Since it was a work session, neither item has had official action yet. Citizens still have the chance to speak with the board members at the regular scheduled meeting on the third Thursday of the month, February 15.