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Top Stories Around Northwest Georgia

Calhoun & Gordon County

Woman Found Dead in Vehicle..The Gordon County Coroner's Office was called Thursday evening to Flying J Travel Plaza where a 66 year old woman was found deceased in her company's vehicle. Her identity is being withheld pending next of kin notification. No details surrounding the woman's death have been made available, however investigators donot suspect foul play at this time.

Child Dies From Motor Bike Accident Injuries... Early Thursday evening, Gordon County Deputies and EMS responded to a report of a serious motorcycle accident on private property off Millers Ferry Road involving a 14 year-old juvenile.Paramedics performed CPR and rushed the juvenile to Gordon Hospital., where we are told, the child subsequently passed away from his injuries. The child's identity is being withheld due to his age, and out of courtesy to the family.

Neighborhood Break-Ins While Residents Are Home...Calhoun Police are warning residents in the Spring Valley area to be on the lookout for anyone suspicious or unfamiliar to the neighborhood. On Thursday March 23, 2017, three separate residual burglaries incident reports were filed. Each victim stated, someone had entered their home by removing a window screen, and climbing through the window. The residents further stated, they were home asleep while the incidents took place. There is physical evidence to indicate other homes in the area were targeted, however, no entry was made due to windows in those homes being secured. Police added this is an unusual type of crime for our area, especially while homeowners are in at night. Policeencourage residents in the area to make sure your doors and windows are locked, until an arrest can be made.

Diesel Fuel Spill Prompts Clean-Up...HazMat crews from Marion environmental along with Gordon County eputies and Fire fighters from stations 1 & 5 responded to US 41 near exit 315 at I-75 Thursday. Reports state that an 18 wheeler was leaaking diesel fuel all over the road, and on into Whitfield County. It took crews quite some time to clean up the area.

Severe Storms Impact Gordon and Surrounding Counties...A line of severe thunderstorms impacted Gordon County and surrounding areas Tuesday evening. Gordon County Sheriff's Deputies and Calhoun City Police responded to reports of downed trees, utility lines, and debris in roadways due to high winds. Several power outages were reported. County and City public works diligently labored throughout the evening to restore electricity and clear the obstructed roads. Some structure damages were been reported, but no injuries are known thus far. In Whitfield County, storms were so bad that they forced schools to delay opening by two hours today.

Gordon County School Board Member Indicted in Two Counties on Multiple Counts of Fraud... In a 19-count indictment handed down from Gordon County Superior Court Monday (3/20), current Gordon County School Board member Ricky Edward Smith has been formally charged with seven counts of financial transaction card theft, nine counts of identity fraud, and one count each of Theft by Taking, Criminal Trespass, and Influencing a Witness. The charges stem from an August 2016 incident in which Smith is accused of taking a woman's credit cards and using them on multiple occasions, allegedly without her permission. We are told Smith has already been indicted on similar charges related to this case in Whitfield County, where, according to reports he will be arraigned on Tuesday (3/21) in Whitfield County Superior Court.

Woman Charged with Misdemeanor Animal Cruelty After Viral Video Surfaces...From the Gordon County Sheriff's Office: On Saturday, March 11, the Sheriff’s Office received a report of a woman allegedly striking a pet dog with a frying pan. Detectives initiated an investigation, interviewing witnesses and gathering physical evidence, which included a video recording. Alyssa Renae Duvall, age 19, of 224 Highland Drive, Calhoun, was subsequently arrested on March 14 and charged with (misdemeanor) Animal Cruelty. She was later released on $1000.00 bond. The investigative file will be forwarded to the District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

Operation ‘SPRING CLEAN’ Results in 48 Charged with Drug and Firearms Offenses...A long-term counter-drug investigation which began in June, 2016 culminated yesterday and today in the execution of a number of arrest warrants throughout Gordon County. “Operation SPRING CLEAN” resulted in a litany of drug distribution and firearms charges against 48 individuals. The investigation, which spanned several months, concentrated on the distribution of methamphetamine and other Schedule II and Schedule I controlled substances. The case involved hundreds of man-hours of covert and electronic surveillance, and dozens of undercover drug purchases.Over the course of the investigation, Sheriff’s deputies and detectives seized over approximately five pounds of methamphetamine valued at over $112,000.00, as well as a number of illegally held firearms. A list of persons charged in ‘Operation SPRING CLEAN' can be found HERE. Several people are still listed as wanted in connection with the Operation, and they are: Keyon Marcus Taylor, William Wade Raper, Jr., Michael Lynn Upshaw; Debbie Marie Boggs, Valerie Leann Richmond, Trina Dawn Blanchard, Brittany Nichole Bradshaw, Stephen Tracy Jackson, Alanna Ryan Talley, and Michael George Davis, Jr. Persons listed as “Outstanding” are still at large, and the public is urged to call the Sheriff’s Office or 911 with any information concerning their whereabouts.

Walker vs Calhoun Headed Back to Court...The case of Maurice Walker vs. the City of Calhoun is going back to U.S. District Court. Walker was arrested in 2015 for pedestrian under the influence. He alleged he couldn't pay the $160 bond because he is indigent. He was kept incarcerated until his court appearance, which led him to file a class action lawsuit seeking a preliminary injunction to prevent the City from keeping him and others in jail because they couldn't afford a secured monetary bond. In January 2016, U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy ordered the City to implement post arrest procedures that comply with the Constitution. After the city appealed, it was determined the order violated Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 65, because it requires the city to fashion constitutionally compliant post arrest procedures. The three judge panel remanded the case to district court for further proceedings because they do not believe the injunction can stand as written.

Calhoun Police Warn Residents About Seasonal Home Repair Scams...Chief Garry Moss states, “...Seasonal home repairs scams often take place around this time of the year.” Groups such as the Irish Travelers, tend to be very active this time of the year, and often attempt to blend in with legitimate contractors when an area has been hit hard by Mother Nature. A common tactic is for the workers to claim they have leftover materials from a previous job that allows them to do the next job(s) cheaply. However, the work performed is often shoddy with inferior materials being used, or the job may not be completed, after a portion of the payment has been received by the contractor. Another variation of this scam, is for one person to occupy to home owner at one location of the house while others gain entry and steal anything of value from the residence. “We feel with all the weather related damage that has recently occurred in Calhoun and Gordon County, this a good time to remind home owners to be diligent when dealing without of state contractors. Most contractors (local and out of state) are legitimate business men. However, there are con men who travel to areas after natural disasters have occurred, looking to make easy money by taking advantage of other people’s misfortune”. Lt. Tony Pyle.

Commercial Gambling Operation Uncovered...Around 8:00 pm Friday night (March 3rd), Calhoun Police arrested 49 year-old Jose Luis Estrada, Ana Maria Garcia-Lopez, 31; Abulia Pirani, 31; and Maria Vanessa Mendoza, 30, all of Calhoun after police discovered employees of El Sol Hispanic Grocery on WC Bryant Parkway were allegedly paying out cash prizes to winners playing slot machines in the store. Pirani and Estrada were each charged with felony Commercial Gambling. They and the other suspects were additionally charged with Keeping a Place for Gambling. The four were released from the Gordon County Jail on bond.

Two Men Charged with Rape...On February 10, Gordon County deputies received a report of an alleged sexual assault involving two assailants against a female under the age of 18. Sheriff’s detectives conducted a number of interviews with witnesses as well as obtaining certain physical evidence. The alleged assault is believed to have taken place on February 4th & 5th at a third party residence near Calhoun. On February 15, Jacob Silvers, age 20, of Fairmount, turned himself in to authorities. He was charged with one count of Rape. On Friday, February 17th, detectives arrested a second man, Justice Darden, age 19, of Calhoun without incident. He was charged with one count of Rape as well. Both men were initially denied bond, however bond has since been granted and the two suspects have posted bail.

Dalton & Whitfield County

Car Break-In Suspects Sought By Dalton PD...Dalton Police are asking for the public’s help identifying two people who attempted to cash stolen checks that were taken in a series of car break-ins that happened in February. The cars were broken into in Dalton and the suspects tried to pass the stolen checks at two banks in Tennessee. The suspects were driving a BMW SUV. The vehicle was driven by a white male and a Hispanic female in the passenger seat tried to cash the stolen checks using the victim’s stolen driver’s licenses as ID. Anyone who can identify the suspects is asked to call Dalton Police.

Braves Fan Caught Stealing Money...Dalton Police need help identifying a man who they say took $40 cash left behind by a forgetful Walmart customer. The man wore an Atlanta Braves jersey and was recorded taking the money during the March 18th incident at the Shugart Road Wal-mart. A white female was recorded on surveillance with the man, as well. Anyone with information is asked to call Dalton Police.

Dalton-Area Church Vandalized...For the third time last Friday morning shattered windows were spotted by members of the Iglesia Mundo de Amistad in Dalton. Every pane on the bottom part of the glass had been shot. Gilbard Guerrero is the pastor of the church, and told investigators that each time the damage has been worse than the last. The double-paned windows were all shattered by one shot each from a bb gun. Guerrero says he's offering a reward of $1,000 for information leading to an arrest and conviction.If you have any information about any of these shootings the Whitfield County Sheriff's Office would like to hear from you.

Man Steals TV, Other Items From K-Mart...The Dalton Police Department is asking for the public’s help with identifying a man who is apparently amassing quite a collection of televisions at the expense of the K-Mart on Glenwood Avenue in Dalton. He stole a 43 inch Samsung television from the store on March 8th and investigators believe he is the same man who stole two others from the store in February. The most recent theft happened on March 8th when the suspect was recorded loading a 43 inch Samsung TV into a shopping cart along with other items. The suspect, a black male wearing dark jeans and a black shirt over a white t-shirt with white sneakers, then pushed the cart out of the store. Employees realized the television was missing the next day while performing an inventory check. When they searched surveillance video, they found a recording of the theft. The same store reported the theft of two televisions last month. On February 20th, a black male wearing a black hoodie and black jeans with white shoes stole a 40 inch Samsung TV and a 48 inch Samsung TV by pushing them out of the store through the garden center area. Investigators believe the suspect in those thefts is the same man from the March 8th incident. Loss prevention staff at the store told an investigating officer that those thefts were the fifth and sixth thefts of TVs from the store in recent months. Pictures from the March 8th theft can be seen here. Anyone who knows the identity of this suspect is asked to please call Officer John Gurrieri at 706-278-9085, dial 9 and enter extension 242. He can also be reached by email at jgurrieri@cityofdalton-ga.gov.

DCS Employee Arrested...The GBI arrested a Dept. of Community Supervision employee for an inappropriate relationship agents say he had with a parolee under his supervision. The Whitfield County Sheriff's Office requested the GBI's support after receiving reports of an inappropriate relationship between 35-year-old Aldo Avila and a parolee. After the investigation, a Whitfield County Grand Jury charged Avila with sexual assault of a parolee. Avila was arrested Friday and is currently out of the Whitfield county jail on bond.

"Batgirl" Wanted in Dalton...Times truly are tough when even a caped crusader takes to stealing. Unfortunately, Batgirl (or perhaps just a female imposter wearing a Batman logo hoodie) apparently strayed from the path of justice when she allegedly stole money left behind at a self-checkout and also apparently shoplifted several items before leaving the store. The incident happened March 6th at the Shugart Road Walmart in Dalton. The suspect paid for one item, took the forgotten money, and left the store. A suspect has been identified, but police have yet to release their name.

Two Arrested in Connection with Whitfield County Murder...Two men have been arrested in connection with a burned body that was dumped in the woods in Whitfield County near Carbondale Road. Roberto "Chico" Viera Aybar, 23, Antioch, Tn. and Hector Ruiz, 29, Nashville, are now in custody. Investigators believe the pair murdered Luis Lopez, 26, in Tennessee and the suspects drove to Whitfield Co. to dispose of the body, that was found by a boy out walking near his home back on January 10th. The investigation is continuing, additional arrests are anticipated.

Rabies Found in Whitfield County...A rabid cat bit two women last week in the Dawnville area of Whitfield County. One woman found the cat on her porch and the other was trying to feed it. The cat attacked a police officer who responded to the call. The officer beat it away with his baton and a nearby rake. The cat kept charging at the officer until he killed it. This is the fifth case of rabies in Whitfield County. Health officials said it started with four infected skunks, it was then found in raccoons and dogs that had been bitten. Health officials continue to advise residents to make sure all pets are kept current on rabies vaccinations. For more information about rabies and its prevention, contact your local county environmental health office or log on to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website.

Chatsworth & Murray County

Murray County Probate Court Under Investigation...The GBI, along with the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and the Conasauga Circuit DA’s Office, executed a search warrant Thursday, February 2nd at the Murray County Probate Court’s office in Chatsworth, and looked for records related to missing funds. The GBI’s Calhoun office began their investigation a year ago at the request of District Attorney Bert Poston. While examining the court’s accounting system, police said they had found that records relating to fines and disbursements had been altered by an employee. The GBI's investigation is continuing.

Lafayette & Walker County

Endangered Runaway Missing From Walker County...Walker County Authorities are searching for an endangered runaway. Jaen Pimptay Perkins is a 15 year-old black male last seen in the Rossville area on March 11th after he had been returned to his family following a previous inicdent wherein Perkins had ran away on March 10th. Anyone with information on his whereabouts is asked to call the Walker County Sheriff's Office.

Animal Cruelty Case Being Investigated...The Walker County Sheriff Office needs your help in an animal cruelty case. In the late hours of Feb. 12, 2017 an unidentified person or persons needlessly killed and mutilated several cattle in the area of Kensington Rd. and Hwy 193 near Walker County Fire Station #9. A white male in a dull green compact car has been seen in the area and may be a person of interest. A concerned party has offered a reward for the first person who furnishes information leading to the arrest and conviction of the person/persons responsible for crime in this case. If you have any information in this case please contact the Walker County CID unit at 706-638-1909 or Det. Andy Cash at 706-639-0898.

Cartersville & Bartow County

Fatal Accident in Bartow County, Charges Pending...Bartow County emergency responders were dispatched to a fatal two vehicle accident Sunday night (3/19) on Hwy 411 at Shaw plant 15. The person killed has been identified as Titus Williams, 20, Cartersville. The Ga. State Patrol said a Nissan Altima, driven by Amber Diana Coker, 17, Cartersville, failed to stop at a stop sign and hit a Toyota 4Runner driven by William Michael Murphy, 57, Cartersville. Coker was airlifted to Grady, her passengers Brice Henderson, 20, Cartersville, airlifted to Atlanta Medical Center, Dustin Antwain Johnson, 20, Cartersville, taken to Floyd Medical Center. Murphy and his passenger Valdilene Murphy, 60, were transported to the Cartersville hospital. Charges are pending.

Fatal Interstate Accident...An Acworth man died in a three vehicle crash involving a tractor trailer and a car on I-75 northbound, just north of the Cartersville-Main Street exit, around 6:30 a.m. Tuesday. According to Bartow Coronor Joel Guyton, Austin Tatum, 24, Acworth, was killed in the accident. Cartersville Police said no other injuries were reported. The cause of the crash is under investigation.

Man Struck & Killed by Train...A Cartersville man was killed when he was struck by a train around 7:30 Sunday evening at the railroad crossing at W. Felton Rd. Bartow Coroner Joel Guyton said, the victim has been identified as 39 year old, Paul Gibson.

Family Suing Bartow County Deputies...A family is asking for a jury trial in U.S. District Court in Rome for the death of their father, Darren Billy Wilson, who died from three gunshot wounds in July 2015. That's when the deputies were called to the scene of an argument between Wilson and himself. Wilson's family filed a civil action lawsuit against Bartow Co. Deputies Anthony Parker and Nick Thompson. Court documents claim the Fourth Amendment was violated arising from the Defendant's objectively unreasonable use of deadly force against Wilson as well as under the Americans with Disabilities Act, and further claims that deputies gave "multiple inconsistent accounts of what occurred, none of which justified the use of deadly force."

Mile Markers Installed on Etowah River...The next time you are on the Etowah River, you will know where you are in case of emergency. Bartow County Fire Department personnel are installing mile marker signs along the banks of the river. Stations with response boats near the river will now have maps identifying the location of the markers to speed up response time to victims who are trapped, lost or injured on the river. The mile marker signs are also expected to be installed along the Etowah in Floyd County.

Rome & Floyd County

Rome Police Veteran Arrested After Corruption Investigation...A Rome Police officer was arrested recently after a six month long investigation. Ernest Edward Cox, age 39 - a 15 year veteran of the department - is charged with one count of trafficking marijuana, violation of oath of office, tampering with evidence and bribery. The Rome Police Department contacted the G.B.I. in October, 2016 after receiving information about alleged corruption. Cox is being held in the Floyd County Jail without bond.

Murder Suspect Granted Bond...Corey Demarcus Gardhigh, age 31 of Cedartown, was granted a $100,000 bond by Floyd County Superior Court Judge Billy Sparks this week on several felony charges, including murder, relating to the late December beating and killing death of Lindale resident Paul Grady. Investigators said the two men were arguing over money about a job that then painting contractor Gardigh was doing for Grady. He remains in the Floyd County Jail pending bond.

Rome High Principal Resigns...Rome High School principal Dr. Phillip Brown has announced that he is resigning at the end of the school year. The move comes close to a month after the city school system named Louis Byars as Superintendent. Brown has served as the principal of Rome High since 2015.

Roman to Head Georgia Real Estate Commission...Gov. Nathan Deal nominated Lynn Dempsey as Commissioner of the Georgia Real Estate Commission Friday following the retirement of William L. Rogers Jr. The nomination was approved by the Georgia Real Estate Commission and is effective immediately. Dempsey is a second-generation auctioneer and the former president and managing broker of Dempsey Auction Company. He and his family live in Rome.

Phone Scam Affecting Northwest Georgia Residents...Floyd County Police said they have been receiving complaints about people getting phone calls telling them that they have missed jury duty, and that they are about to be fined or arrested. This is just the latest in scams hitting the Northwest Georgia area. In recent weeks, Dalton Police said con artists have been calling people and posing as Dalton Utilities representatives, and in Gordon County scammers went so far as to claim they were a high ranking Sheriff's Official. Citizens are urged to disregard any such calls and especially to never reveal any personal information. Remember, Law Enforcement and the Government doesn't do business on the phone.

From Other Places Around Our Area

Officer Involved Shooting in Pickens County Being Investigated...An officer involved shooting is being investigated in Pickens County. Pickens County Sgt. Travis Curran tried to make a traffic stop on Hwy 53 East in Jasper. When Curran got out of his vehicle, the driver, Gary Lee Castle, 54, allegedly moved toward him with a metal pipe in his hand. The deputy repeatedly told Castle to drop the weapon but he refused. Deputy Curran fired his gun hitting Castle, who was treated at the scene and transported by helicopter to an Atlanta trauma center in stable condition. Sgt. Curran is on administrative leave while the investigation is being completed.

GBI Investigates Officer-Involved Shooting in Polk County...The G.B.I. is investigating an officer involved shooting that happened in Polk Co. around 12:15 a.m. Saturday. The Ga. State Patrol was conducting a D.U.I. patrol when a vehicle attempted to elude law enforcement. Troopers pursued the vehicle until it stopped. When Trooper Johnathan Mason made contact with the driver, Jason Dennis Watkins, 36, Watkins accelerated the vehicle. During the encounter Trooper Mason shot Watkins. Watkins was transported to Polk Co. Hospital where he died. Watkins body was taken to the G.B.I. Crime Lab where an autopsy will be performed.

North Georgia Cities Ranked "Must-See"...Cartersville has been named the 4th must-see stop in Georgia according to travel website The Crazy Tourist.com. The site said there are hundreds of noteworthy small towns in Georgia., there are some that stand out above the rest. Cartersville made the list along with 14 other towns in Georgia. Tunnel Hill ranked number 12 on the list, and Dahlonega was at number 13.

Oil Companies Eye North Georgia...Shale gas drilling is slowing across the country, but a few companies are poking around the state looking for the next natural gas "play." An Oklahoma-based company that leased 7,500 acres of land in Whitfield County has two test wellsalready in place and they say they plan another. In Floyd County, near Cave Spring, a Texas oil conglomerate plans a well. At least three other companies have recently researched the Conasauga shale field, a swath of land that runs from Alabama across Georgia and into Tennessee. Georgia joins Tennessee and North Carolina as Southern states newly popular with wildcatters and major gas and oil companies.

Bald Eagle Found Dead in Alabama...Alabama State and U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service agents are investigating the apparent shooting death of a bald eagle at Weiss Lake, found in a field near a farm, just southeast of Centre, Alabama. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service are sending the bird to an undisclosed location for a necropsy to specifically determine the cause of death. The area where the bird was found is very close to an active nest, one of six that calls Weiss Lake home. A felony federal conviction for killing a bald eagle carries a maximum $250,000 fine or up to two years in prison. The U.S. Fish and Wildlife is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and conviction of the responsible party or parties. The national bird was removed from the endangered species list in June 2007, but it is still protected under the Migratory Bird Treaty and the Bald and Golden Eagle Protection acts.

Avian Flu Found in TN and AL...A commercial chicken facility in Lincoln County, Tennessee, had an outbreak highly pathogenic avian influenza. The facility is under quarantine. A state veterinarian says the virus does not pose a threat to humans and there is no risk to the food supply. Bird flu has also been found in poultry in Jackson, Lauderdale and Madison, Alabama. The Alabama Department of Agriculture said the cases are suspected but not confirmed and they are not a food safety issue. The birds involved are waterfowl, primarily ducks and geese. The Alabama Department of Agriculture issued a stop movement order for the sale of any type of bird or fowl basically anything with feathers. Alabama found three areas where birds tested positive for Avian bird flu. All types of birds will not be sold anywhere in the state until the ban is lifted.

City Wants to Dramatically Reduce Pot Penalties...The City of Temple, GAwants to reduce the penalties for people caught with less than an ounce of marijuana. They want to reduce the fine from $1,000 to $75 with no jail time.

Fmr Chattanooga School Bus Driver Indicted...A jury in Chattanooga indicted Johnthony Walker on six counts of vehicular homicide. He was driving a school bus on November 21st that crashed and killed six elementary school students. He has been in jail since the incident.

Fmr. State Rep's Brother Indicted on Federal Drug Charges...A former Georgia state representative's brother was indicted on federal drug charges. Wesley Gage Weldon is accused of distributing and possessing at least 500 grams of meth. n the indictment, investigators say Welson made at least $255,000 in sales. Wesley Weldon is the brother of Tom Weldon, who represented Ringgold in the Georgia Legislature from 2009 until last year.

Settlement Reached in Post-Prom Party Lawsuit...A settlement has been reached in the Calhoun High School post prom assault lawsuit. The alleged sexual battery happened at a gated community in Ellijay in 2014. That community's insurance company and the cabin's owners have both reached a settlement with the female former student, which is all part of a larger lawsuit. Court documents did not give an amount. The lawsuit names Avery Johnson, Fields Chapman and Andrew Haynes as the men who date assaulted the unnamed girl and left her with severe injuries.Chapman and his parents filed a countersuit claiming the victim is lying. The criminal case against the three men has stalled in court.

Calhoun City & Gordon County Government News

New Government Plaza Dedication...The Gordon County Board of Commissioners cordially invite you to attend the Dedication of the Gordon County Government Plaza on Friday, March 31, 2017, at 11 a.m. The address is 215 North Wall Street Calhoun, GA 30701.

Gordon County Trails Master Plan Upcoming Meeting...All residents of Gordon County and stakeholders interested in the Gordon County Trails Master Plan are encouraged to attend a public meeting on Tuesday, March 28, 2017, at 6:00 p.m. The meeting will be held at the Gordon County Agriculture Service Center at 1282 Hwy 53 Spur SW Calhoun. The public is encouraged to come and give their input on the benefits of trails and the opportunities they present within Calhoun and Gordon County.

Public Hearing Set for Commercial Poultry Operations Applications and Permits Moratorium...The Gordon County Board of Commissioners have voted to enact a temporary emergency moratorium on the acceptance of applications for any approvals or permits regarding new commercial poultry operations or the expansion of existing operations. This is a 60-day moratorium to give the commissioners time to review the current ordinance. The temporary moratorium will not affect anyone who has filed paperwork and applications for a permit to build chicken houses before February 21. The motion passed 3 to 1 with District 5 Commissioner Kevin Cunningham (R) voting against the moratorium. A public hearing will be held at a later time, to be determined and announced.

Redbone Ridges Landfill to Impose Surcharge for Unsecured Loads...Customers arriving at Redbone Ridges Landfill in Gordon County with unsecured or untarped loads will be assessed a $10-per-load surcharge, effective April 1. The fee is designed to bring awareness to the amount of litter and debris being strewn along roads from vehicles that aren’t properly tarped. In addition to being a source of litter, unsecured loads can be dangerous to other motorists. Landfill personnel will warn residents now through March, but beginning April 1st, customers with unsecured loads will be assessed the surcharge.

Gordon County Renews Storm Ready Certification...Gordon County was first certified as a Storm Ready community in 2005. Gordon County has continued to improve capabilities each year with each renewal of the Storm Ready designation. This 2017 renewal marks the 5th renewal of Storm Ready in Gordon County.
Storm Ready is a nationwide program that helps communities better protect their citizens during severe weather from tornadoes to tropical storms. The program encourages communities to take a proactive approach to improving local hazardous weather operations. Storm Ready provides emergency managers with clear-cut guidelines on how to improve their hazardous weather operations.
For more information, like us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/gordoncountyema and follow us on Twitter @gordoncountyema. Sign up for Code Red Emergency Weather Warnings here.

New Filing Format for Plats...Gordon County Clerk of Superior Court Grant Walraven wants to let you know that as of January 1st, all plats in Georgia must be filed electronically. Effective immediately, plats will no longer be accepted for filing in paper format. The move to require the eFiling of plats was mandated with the passage of HB 1004 (15-6-67) during the 2016 Georgia General Assembly legislative session. In order to eFile plat documents in Georgia, please go to https://efile.gsccca.org/.If you have any questions or concerns regarding the eFile process, please contact the Georgia Superior Court Clerks' Cooperative Authority Customer Support line at 1-800-304-5714 or help@gsccca.org.

Fictitious Document Purportedly from Sheriff’s Office on Social Media...Gordon County Sheriff’s Office has received reports of a fictitious list of names on an obviously computer generated, forged document, circulating on social media. The document purports to be from the Sheriff’s Office but is not a real document. Sheriff’s detectives are investigating the matter to determine the actual source of the document. Investigating detectives remind the public that forged, computer generated documents are widespread on social media. Any document purporting to be from a local, state, or federal government agency can be verified with the respective authority.

Gordon Environmental Health Restaurant Scores...IHOP - Hwy 53 - 85; KFC - Hwy 53 - 91; Teriyaki Passion - Belwood Rd - 93; El Rodeo - Hwy 41 N - 98; Christian & Jake's Bistro - Hwy 53 - 99; Country Cabin Sweets N Treats - Reeves Station Rd - 100.

State & National News

Avian Flu in Neighboring States Shuts Down Exhibitions in GA... After avian flu outbreaks among chicken flocks in Tennessee and Alabama, the Georgia Department of Agriculture has ordered an immediate suspension of various methods of poultry sale. A release from the Department of Agriculture states that the suspension applies to all poultry exhibitions, shows, sales, swaps and meets in Georgia. Robert Cobb, the Georgia State Veterinarian who wrote the release, said chicken farmers can still sell chickens on eggs on private property. The suspension is on events where chicken of different flocks would interact, possibly spreading the disease. Those who experience sudden death of poultry or fowl should contact the Department of Agriculture at (855) 491-1432.

Recent Deep Freeze Impacts Crops...GA Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said up to 80% of the blueberry crop in the southern part of Georgia was destroyed during last week's deep freeze in the Southeast. Also affected was 85% of South Carolina's peaches and North Carolina's apples were also damaged.

General Assembly Adjourning March 30th...Georgia lawmakers head into the final two weeks of the legislative session with a lot of unfinished business, including a state budget for the coming financial year. The General Assembly plans to adjourn on March 30, with only five days of floor votes scheduled. Lawmakers generally agree on priorities for a $49 billion budget, including a two percent salary increase for teachers. The Senate has control of a bill allowing concealed handguns on college campuses.

Veterans' Legislation Passes US House...Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) voted for and the House passed the VA Accountability First Act (H.R. 1259), which increases accountability at the Department of Veterans Affairs by making it easier to fire bad employees. It also improves whistleblower protections. The House also passed the Veterans Second Amendment Protection Act (H.R. 1181), legislation prohibiting the VA from sharing information with the National Instant Criminal Background Check System for individuals who have a designated payee for their benefits. The practice unnecessarily increases scrutiny on law-abiding veterans who wish to exercise their Second Amendment rights.

Electric Vehicle Sales Down in Georgia...Sales of electric vehicles plummeted when Georgia repealed its generous $5,000 tax credit on electric vehicles in July, 2015 and initiated a $200 registration fee on electric cars. Almost 1,300 electric vehicles were sold in Georgia before the repeal. By August sales dwindled to only 97 electric cars.

DPH of NWGA Gets New Director...Unini Odama, M.D., M.P.H., has been named health director for the GA Department of Public Health Northwest Health District, headquartered in Rome. Dr. Odama, a nephrologist and hypertension specialist, succeeds C. Wade Sellers, M.D., M.P.H. who retired in August 2016, after 23 years as health director for the 10 county public health district, which includes Gordon County.

Expect Early Onion Crop...State Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black said Vidalia onions will be ready earlier this year. Consumers can expect them in mid-April. The official pack date is set for April 12th.

State Attorney General Warns of E-Mail Scam...GA Attorney General Chris Carr is warning the public about a phony email circulating that purports to be from the “Department of Consumer Affairs.” The email, which allegedly targets attorneys, says that a complaint has been filed against the recipient’s company and urges recipients to click on a link to view the complaint. This email is NOT from the Office of the Attorney General’s Consumer Protection Unit or any other legitimate government entity. It is a fake email. Clicking on the link or attachment provided may allow the scammer to install malware on your computer. The scam has been reported in Georgia and South Carolina.

School Recess Becomes A Law in Georgia...The State House of Representatives has passed legislation requiring all Georgia elementary school schedule a daily recess period for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. H.B. 273 says recess periods must include 30 minutes of supervised, unstructured and safe activity time, preferably outdoors beginning in the 2017-18 school year. The bill also prohibits school officials from withholding recess as a form of punishment.

House Passes Defense Appropriations Bill...Rep. Tom Graves (R-GA-14) voted for and the House passed the fiscal year 2017 Defense Appropriations bill (H.R. 1301), which funds the Department of Defense and includes a 2.1 percent pay raise for the troops. H.R. 1301 also includes Rep. Graves’ provision to speed the replacement of a critical radar system and aircraft. In addition, the bill increases crucial funding for cyber defense, including for the activities at Fort Gordon. Among other wins for Georgia, the legislation prohibits the retirement of the A-10C Warthog fleet, a significant portion of which are stationed at Moody Air Force Base. The bill also supports the acquisition of a new class of ballistic missile submarines to replace the Ohio-class submarines stationed at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia.

Rep. Tom Graves' 14th Congressional District’s County Connection Program...Rep. Tom Graves 2017 County Connection Program stations Graves' staff members across the District to provide a personal link to Congress for Georgians. A link to the 2017 schedule for the 14th Congressional District’s County Connection Program can be found here.

Judge Stepping Down...U.S. District Judge Harold Murphy is retiring from active judgeship and will take senior status on March 31. Murphy first appointed to the bench by President Jimmy Carter in 1977 and presides over federal cases in Rome. President Donald Trump will make the appointment to fill Murphy's position.

Ground Beef Recall...King’s Command Foods, LLC., a Kent, Wash. establishment, is recalling approximately 63,000 pounds of ground beef products that may be contaminated with extraneous materials. The products subject to recall bear establishment number “EST. M1515A” inside the USDA mark of inspection. Some items were shipped to Department of Defense facilities and institutions nationwide. The problem was discovered when company officials received several consumer complaints stating that metal objects were found in the beef products. There have been no confirmed reports of injuries or adverse reactions due to consumption of these products. Consumers who have purchased these products are urged not to consume them. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase. You will find a full list of specific products being recalled by following the link HERE.

Nissan Issues Recall Due to Faulty Airbags...Nissan is recalling over 54,000 cars because of curtain and seat mounted air bags that may unexpectantly deploy when the door is slammed. Car owners can contact Nissan customer service 1-800-647-7261 or visit https://www.safercar.gov/

Mercedes-Benz Issues Recall...Mercedes is recalling about 354,000 cars and SUV's because a starter part can overheat and cause a fire. Included are certain C-Class, E-Class, CLA cars, GLA and GLC SUV's from 2015 through 2017. Owners will be notified this month and again when replacement parts are available in July. Dealers will correct the problem by installing a fuse.

Ready-To-Eat Chicken Recall...Wayne Farms, LLC, based in Decatur, Alabama, is recalling approximately 12,610 pounds of ready-to-eat chicken products due to a potential processing defect. The ready-to-eat breaded chicken bite items were packaged on Dec. 1, 13 and 30, 2016 and bear establishment number “P-20214” inside the USDA mark of inspection.These items were shipped to Food Lion stores across the South, including Georgia. These products should be thrown away or returned to the place of purchase.

What Else Is Happening?

VAC 'Shoebox Project'...Now through March 31st, The Vountary Action Center's Shoebox Project is collecting donations of care packages for homeless men, women and children to be distributed in the VAC's Community Kitchen to help our Neighbors in Need. Items like toothpaste and toothbrushes, shampoo, combs, socks, rain ponchos and deodorant, along with several other essentials, are needed. Simply decorate and fill a shoebox with the acceptable items, then drop them off at the VAC on South Wall Street To find out more, contact the Voluntary Action Center.

Taylor Named Gordon County EMA Director...Courtney Taylor will assume duties in mid-April as the new Gordon County EMA Director. Courtney is certified by the State of Georgia as a Master Emergency Manager with approximately 20 years of experience in his field. He previously managed the Gordon County E911 Center and the Emergency Management Department. More recently, Courtney served as the Director at Gordon Hospital Emergency Medical Services and Murray Medical Emergency Services where he was twice awarded the Georgia Region 1 EMS Director of the Year - in 2010 & 2016.  A lifelong Gordon County resident, Courtney serves on the Voluntary Action Center's Board of Directors, the Fellowship of Christian Athletes Board of Directors, and he is an active member of Heritage Baptist Church in Calhoun.

GA Trust Seeking "Places in Peril"...The Georgia Trust's Places in Peril program is seeking nominations for the 2018 list of Places in Peril. The program wants to identify and preserve historic sites threatened by demolition, neglect, lack of maintenance, inappropriate development or insensitive public policy. The top ten designees are selected in the fall. Nomination forms are available at www.georgiatrust.org.

Gordon Hospital Foundation Scholarship...College student who have been accepted into a nursing/allied health program may want to take advantage of the Gordon Hospital Foundation Scholarship. The foundation is currently accepting applications. Scholarships range from $500 to $2,000. Applications are available online at www.gordonhospital.com or by stopping by Gordon Hospital’s marketing and foundation office. The deadline to apply is April 14 at 3 p.m.

Driver's Ed Classes...Gordon County Schools 2016-2017 Driver’s Education Classes will be offered at Sonoraville HS on April 17-20 and 24-27. Registration for the course costs $250. The class limit is 25 students. To find out more, call 706-629-1804.

Gordon County BOE Approves Calendar...The Gordon County Board of Education has approved school calendars for the next three academic years, and approved a recommendation concerning make-up days for this year. You can view the system's approved calendars here.

Gordon County Students to Receive iPads...Gordon County Schools announced its district-wide 1:1 technology initiative, which will put an iPad into the hands of each K-12 student in the school district. This announcement comes on the heels of three years of in-depth research into how other systems across the country have implemented this type of initiative. Teachers can expect to receive their new devices in mid-March 2017 for the purposes of professional learning and training that will take place over the next serval months. Students will begin receiving devices in the fall, following the Labor Day holiday.

2017 Car Seat Mini-Grant...The Calhoun Police Department was recently awarded the 2017 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program. Through the mini-grant, Calhoun Police Department, Gordon County Fire Department, Georgia State Patrol, Safe Kids Dalton, Calhoun Fire Department and Gordon EMS provide car seats and education to financially eligible families in Calhoun and Gordon County. This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety. For more information about the Calhoun Gordon County car seat program, contact Calhoun Police at 706-629-1234, County Fire at 706-629-8851, GSP at 706-624-1477 or Calhoun Fire Department at 706-629-2244. If you would like information regarding other counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at injury@dph.ga.gov or by calling 404-679-0500.

The Web Can be a Dangerous Place...The internet can be a highly dangerous place, especially for impressionable tweens and teens. The internet is crawling with predators, and if your child comes into contact with one, their life could be in danger. Parents are encouraged to monitor their child’s computer, cell phone and tablet. There are numerous sites parents can view that offer advice and tips pertaining to internet safety for kids and teens. Here are just a few that may prove helpful: safekids.com, webmd.com, kids.usa.gov and kidshealth.org.

For Local School Events
Calhoun City Schools - www.calhounschools.org
Gordon County Schools -
www.gcbe.org
Georgia Cumberland Academy -
www.gcasda.org

Help Build A Home for a Desrving Family
Habitat for Humanity of Gordon County is searching for talented volunteers to build a new home. Anyone interested is invited to call 706-625-9929 for more information.

+ Save A Life: Give Blood +
Find out how you can save a life. Go to www.bloodassurance.org or www.redcrossblood.org

Do You Have A Kickin News Tip?

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