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Local News

Two Cherokee County Precincts extend hours due to voting delay

Due to some delays incurred at two Cherokee County elections precincts, Chief Superior Court Judge Ellen McElyea has signed a requested order to extend voting hours at Allen Temple AME, 232 Arnold Mill Road, Woodstock, until 7:12 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3, and Canton City Hall, until 7:15 p.m., Tuesday, Nov. 3.

Cherokee County issues state of emergency following Hurricane Zeta

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners Chairman Harry Johnston declared a local state of emergency Thursday in response to the aftermath of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Zeta.

 

The local state of emergency is in effect until Nov. 2, unless otherwise modified. A local state of emergency ensures that proper precautions and remedies are enacted to ensure the safety and health of the citizens of Cherokee County.

 

The storm system moved through Cherokee County with wind gusts of 60-70 mph in the early morning hours Thursday morning, causing downed power lines and trees, property damage and road closures. Despite continued efforts of local electricity providers, county and state roads crews, and public safety, many remained without power or unable to travel by Friday morning.

 

“Cherokee County public works, Sheriff’s Office and Fire personnel, Amicalola EMC, Georgia Power, Sawnee EMC and Cobb EMC, the storm system caused a significant amount of damage in a short time,” Johnston. “Declaring a local state of emergency provides an extra layer of protection for residents and property owners in the county.”

 

As of Friday morning, Cherokee Emergency Management Agency officials continued to assess storm damage across the county to report to the Georgia Emergency Management Agency.

Cherokee County EMA Director Craig Millsap said his team and local county departments and public safety, along with local electricity providers, continue to work around the clock to restore power and clear roads and other unsafe conditions caused by Zeta.

Fannin County Schools to close Thursday, October 29th due to Tropical Storm Warning

Weather forecasts indicate that our community will face severe weather from the remnants of Hurricane Zeta tomorrow morning.  Heavy rainfall, flooding, and high winds are expected with this weather event.  Safety is always the top priority; therefore, all Fannin County Schools will be closed tomorrow (Thursday), October 29.  This applies to both in-person and online classes; all FCSS classes are cancelled on October 29.

 

All 12-month personnel should plan to report later in the day on Thursday to check facilities.  More information about this will be shared with 12-month personnel.   

Cherokee County Schools to close Thursday, October 29th due to Tropical Storm Warning

PRESS RELEASE: On behalf of the Superintendent of Schools, this is to announce that due to the National Weather Service Tropical Storm Warning and likely associated hazardous wind and flooding conditions during the early morning hours tomorrow, Cherokee County School District will be closed on Thursday, Oct. 29, 2020.  This will not be a Digital Learning Day due to the likely event of expected widespread power outages throughout the morning.  A decision to allow Thursday extracurricular events will be made mid-day based upon local conditions.

Pickens County Schools to close for 2 weeks

PRESS RELEASE

October 23, 2020

Out of an abundance of caution and based on guidance from the Department of Public Health (DPH), Pickens County School District traditional students will transition to distance learning starting Monday, October 26, 2020 through Friday, November 6, 2020. While our buildings are closed, we will perform deep cleanings. All buses will also be thoroughly cleaned.

We are making this decision with a heavy heart but with the best interest of everyone in mind. The health and safety of our students and staff is our number one priority. Please use this time to social distance and help stop the spread in our community. Staff members are encouraged to avoid entering buildings unless absolutely necessary. If you do need to enter a facility, please contact the building administrator.

Additional information will be posted later today on our district website, Facebook page, and through Infinite Campus.

NOTE: Tate, Hill City, and PJHS will still be polling places on Election Day, November 3, 2020. Buildings will be cleaned before and after Election Day.

Ask the Doctor with Dr. Steven Spitz

Join Will Cooper as he sat down with Dr. Steven Spitz, a neurosurgeon with Southeastern Neurosurgical Specialists, to discuss back pain! 

Back The Blue Rally

This will be free admission and everyone is invited and encouraged to bring a friend and a lawn chair. Bring your homemade signs and flags to show your support for the men and women who protect us and keep us safe!

Drive-Thru Flu Shot Clinic in Jasper is Monday, September 28th

Press Release: This year’s DRIVE-THRU FLU SHOT CLINIC, conducted by Pickens County Health Department, is Monday, September 28th from 9 am to 2 pm at Mt. Zion Baptist Church in Jasper!

 

It’s especially important this year that you’re able to remain separately and safely in your vehicle while driving through to get your flu shot from public health staff wearing COVID-19 protective gear. The shot is no cost if covered by one of several health plans. If paying out of pocket, the cost is still relatively low at $25 for regular flu vaccine and $65 for high dose flu vaccine for people aged 65 and older. Both vaccines guard against 4 differentstrains of flu. Cash, Check, Credit Card, Medicare, Medicaid, Aetna Blue Cross Blue Shield, Cigna, Coventry, Humana and United Healthcare Insurance will be accepted.

 

Mt. Zion Baptist Church is at 1036 North Main Street in Jasper. Call (706) 253-2821 for more information and log onto bit.ly/Drive-Thru_Beat-the-Flu.

Cherokee County is encouraging residents to renew tags early due to elections

Press Release:  Cherokee Tax Commissioner Sonya Little is encouraging residents with October and November birthdays to renew their tags early, online or at a local kiosk.

 

With the recent relocation of the Cherokee County Elections & Voter Registration office and early voting set for October, in addition to property tax bills being mailed by the end of the week, parking may be limited at the Canton tax campus, Little said.

 

“October and November are busy months at our office, and we want our customers to know ahead of time to expect parking limitations during this time,” Little said. “We have online options and convenient kiosk locations at Kroger in Hickory Flat and Towne Lake.”

 

For more information about the Tax Commissioner’s office, visit cherokeega.com/tax-commissioners/office.

Water main break in Canton closes schools, businesses

A massive water main break from the Bobby Bishop Water Treatment Plant has forced Cherokee High School to close due to lack of fresh water for the students. Hasty Elementary School is also affected, however they will be using mobile water for the students. 

 

According to local sources, certain resturaunts have closed in the Riverstone area as well. 

 

A press release from the Canton City Manager Billy Peppers reads "The City of Canton experienced a water main break this morning in a 10" line from the Bobby Bishop Water Treatment Plant in an area behind the Riverview Cemetery downtown. This break created water loss in the following areas: downtown Canton, Hasty Elementary School, Brown Industrial Park, South Canton, Marietta Highway, Cherokee High School, Pointe at Puckett Creek, Whispering Woods, and the areas fed by the Ridge Pine Storage Tank. Additionally, there are areas of lower pressure system-wide.

 

The remote area of the line (near the Etowah River and railroad track) required the temporary construction of a roadway to gain access with heavy equipment and supplies. By 9 a.m., utility crews were able to isolate the break and are currently working to re-route and operate a pumping plan to bring water back into the system and begin refilling tanks. Areas of low pressure and no water will remain during the morning hours as the repairs are made. At this time, we do not know the full impact of water loss and cannot establish areas for boil water advisories. If you are without water, we are aware of the issue and are working to quickly resolve the situation.

 

As a result of the water issue, the Cherokee County School District has dismissed Cherokee High School for the day and is working with other schools in the Canton water system utilizing mobile water solutions.

 

We apologize for the inconvenience and are working as hard as we can to correct the break and bring the system back into operation. To keep up with the status of this work, please check out our social media feeds (linked at the bottom of this email) as we are providing hourly updates."

Creekview Closed until August 31st due to COVID-19

Creekview has become the third High School in Cherokee County to close so far this school year due to COVID-19. Creekview joins Woodstck and Etowah in closing for the rest of the month, leaving Cherokee, River Ridge, and Sequoyah as the only High Schools still open in Cherokee County. 

 

According to a press release from the Cherokee County School District "Reopening is tentatively scheduled for Monday, Aug. 31.  This decision was made with the support of School Board Members and in consideration with the Department of Public Health. Over this weekend, the number of positive cases at Creekview High School has increased to a total of 25, with 500 of its 1,800 in-person students now under precautionary quarantine, and additional tests pending that would significantly increase the quarantine total.  We understand these closings create hardships and are disappointing to students who want to learn in-person as well as their families, but these are necessary measures to avoid potential spread within our schools."

 

Creekview will begin online classes on Tuesday, August 18th. 

Woodstock High School Closed until August 31st due to COVID-19

Woodstock High School has been the second school to close in Cherokee County due to COVID-19. The announcement comes less than 24 hours after Dr. Brian Hightower announced that they would be closing Etowah High School through August. 

 

A press release from the Cherokee County School District states " All Woodstock HS in-person students will stay home from school until the scheduled reopening on Monday, Aug. 31.  Teachers will spend Thursday, Aug. 13, preparing for the shift to remote learning; the building will be deep-cleaned.  Remote learning, through the Canvas learning management system, will begin on Friday, Aug 14, with teachers reporting to school to provide this online instruction.  The closure has no effect on Woodstock HS students already enrolled in Digital Learning.  The closure also has no effect on the neighboring Woodstock MS, where no positive cases have been reported.  Students who need to pick up medication or other items that they must have during the next two weeks should call the school’s front office to make an appointment.  Extra-curricular athletic activities will continue after school; this exception is due to the very limited size of these groups and additional safety measures in place (such as temporal scans), but continuation of athletics will be closely monitored for possible closure."

 

Dr. Hightower also addressed the plan for the other schools and students in Cherokee County "The closing of Etowah HS on Tuesday followed by the closing on Woodstock HS today are necessary precautions as we work to continue in-person learning in our other 38 schools and centers.  We anticipate, as we have communicated throughout this process, there will be additional quarantines and school closures as we operate during this pandemic.  We need our entire community to work together: stay home when you’re sick; get tested if you’re symptomatic; report your child’s positive test to their school; if you are directed to quarantine, follow the instructions and limit interaction with non-family members; social distance when you can and wear a mask when you can’t."

Pickens County Runoff Election Final Results

Tonight our WLJA News Team is keeping track of the PIckens County Runoff election numbers all night long! Our exclusive video is below. 

 

Daniel Reeves won Tax Commissioner

Thomas Gartrell won Board of Education Post 1

 

Cherokee County Runoff Election Final Results

Tonight our WLJA News Team is keeping track of the Cherokee County Runoff election numbers all night long! Our exclusive video is below.

 

Charlice Byrd won House District 20

Brad Thomas won House DIstrict 21

Richard Weatherby won County Commission District 2

 

 

Etowah High School closed until August 31st due to COVID-19

The Cherokee County School District has decided to close Etowah High School until August 31st due to a recent rise in COVID-19, according to a press release from Dr. Brian Hightower.

 

"We are temporarily closing in-person learning at Etowah High School effective at the end of classes today (Aug. 11, 2020).  It is our hope to restart in-person classes at Etowah HS on Monday, Aug. 31.  This decision was not made lightly; it was made with the support of School Board Members, and was determined, as all of our quarantine decisions are made, in consideration with the Department of Public Health.  

We recognize this decision still may create hardships for Etowah HS families and is disappointing for students who want to be at school for in-person learning.  As of this morning, the number of positive cases at the school had increased to a total of 14, with tests for another 15 students pending; and, as a result of the confirmed cases, 294 students and staff are under quarantine and, should the pending tests prove positive, that total would increase dramatically." 

 

Cherokee County was one of the first school systems to open for in-person classes this year, and has been forced to close certain classes and quarantine select teachers and students. This is the first time the District has been forced to close an entire school. 

 

Dr. Hightower ended his statement with a message to other parents and students in the District "We ask all students, staff and families to please continue to social distance and use masks when social distancing is not possible.  It is our sincere belief and hope that following this guidance will help us keep our schools open for in-person learning.  While cases are predominately affecting our high schools and we anticipate the need for quarantines will continue to rise in them with the possibility of more high school closures, we also may see more of our middle schools and elementary schools require quarantines in the coming days and weeks."

Georgia Apple Festival Cancelled

It is with a heavy heart that the Georgia Apple Festival board of directors announces that the 49th annual Georgia Apple Festival Arts & Crafts show has been cancelled for October 2020. The difficult decision was made following the guidance of the local healthcare community, after consultation with local officials, and with extensive feedback from vendors, volunteers, and local citizens.

 

The health and well being of all concerned including our volunteers, vendors, and guests was paramount in the decision process. The board also weighed the additional costs and undertaking of trying to produce the event under the current CDC guidelines. It is our belief that the integrity and spirit of the event would suffer and not be profitable for vendors nor provide the type of experience that our guests have come to expect.

All vendors and other stakeholders will receive direct communication from the festival management in the coming days. We ask your patience and understanding as we proceed. Moving forward the board will explore various opportunities to celebrate the fall apple season and that safely enhance and promote Georgia’s apple capital.

 

We understand the far-reaching impact that this decision will have on the economic well being of our artists, our local businesses and community at large. The impact will also be felt by the two sponsoring agencies, the Ellijay Lions Club and the Gilmer Chamber. The Georgia Apple Festival is the largest fundraiser for both entities and the loss of revenue will be felt deeply by both in their effort to meet the charitable needs of the community supported by the Ellijay Lions Club and the needs of the Gilmer County business community supported by the Gilmer Chamber.

 

It is our deepest desire that the current health crisis facing our county, state, nation and world will be behind us and that you will make plans to join us October 2021 as we celebrate the 50th Anniversary Georgia Apple Festival.

Doug Collins Interview

Doug Collins, a U.S. Congressman for Georgias 9th District, is running for U.S. Senate. He hit the campaign trail and made a stop at Appalachain Gun and Pawn in Jasper Tuesday morning. Our crew caught up with Collins to discuss the campaign and his vision for America if he is elected. 

 

Ask the Doctor with Dr. Madhavi Jordan

Take an excluisve look at our interview with Dr. Madhavi Jordan, a board certified physician who practices out of the Northside Cherokee Surgical Associates office in Canton. She joined us to discuss gall bladder health and surgery. 

Cherokee County Tax Commissioner office locations to close due to COVID-19 exposure

Both locations of the Cherokee County Tax Commissioner’s Office closed Tuesday, July 28 after being notified an employee had been exposed to COVID-19. The Tax Commissioner’s Office will remain closed for at least 14 days unless the employee’s test returns negative. During the closure, the buildings will be cleaned and sanitized.

“For the health and safety of my staff and the citizens of Cherokee County, the Tax Commissioner’s Office will be closed to the public due to an employee, with a severe exposure with a high probability of a positive result to COVID-19, and who is also experiencing symptoms,” said Tax Commissioner Sonya Little. “Per the County Attorney and CDC guidelines, we are closing our offices as we await test results. I apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and I appreciate your patience and understanding during this time.”

Little added updates regarding reopening will be posted to the Tax Commissioner’s website and Facebook page.

Those who need to renew their tag may do so through one of the convenient kiosks located at two Kroger stores, 2295 Towne Lake Parkway, Woodstock, and 6766 Hickory Flat Highway, Canton, or online at https://eservices.drives.ga.gov. For more information about additional online services, visit www.cherokeega.com/Tax-Commissioners-Office.

COED Announces Partnership with Start It Up Georgia

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED) today announced its partnership with Atlanta Tech Village’s newest program – Start It Up Georgia. The initiative is a free, 12-week virtual program open to everyone who wants to start a business. Launching on August 10, Start It Up Georgia will provide mentorship, practical and tactical learning labs, community resources, and an opportunity for participants to apply for seed/grant funding at the completion of the program.  

 

As of June, Georgia is facing an unemployment rate of 7.6 percent. Today’s economic crisis presents a complex set of barriers to overcome for both unemployed and those wanting to launch their own business. Start It Up Georgia helps remove those barriers through its interactive learning labs and by focusing on collaborative partnerships from around metro Atlanta and the state of Georgia. 

 

COED joins a growing team of strategic partners that are working to solve Georgia’s unemployment through entrepreneurial education. “Economic development has always been a team sport,” said COED President Misti Martin. “Atlanta Tech Village’s unique vision with Start It Up Georgia aligns well with COED’s strategy of using entrepreneurship as an effective driver for economic development and future job creation.” 

 

COED’s diverse approach to economic development from product, infrastructure and workforce development to entrepreneurship and film will help support Start It Up Georgia through resources, collaboration, and community involvement. Specifically, COED will leverage its resources and vast network of entrepreneurial support through its entrepreneurship initiative, Fresh Start Cherokee. The North Atlanta Venture Mentoring Service (NAV) - one of those key programs – is a team-based program principled and trained by MIT’s Venture Mentoring Service (VMS) that provides entrepreneurs around North Atlanta regular access to a diverse community of 27 mentors. 

 

“Nothing says innovation like trailblazing your own career path through entrepreneurship, especially during an economic crisis,” said COED Community Manager of Entrepreneurship Jonathan Chambers. “Helping Georgia’s unemployed and aspiring entrepreneurs navigate starting their own business can give them the skills and training they need to relaunch their career and join the workforce stronger than ever.” 

 

To learn more or apply for Start It Up Georgia, visit startitupgeorgia.org

Woodstock Man Arrested and Charged with Loitering and Prowling

Cherokee Sheriff’s deputies received a call at approximately 11:50 a.m. Friday in reference to a male who was taking pictures of young children at Hobgood Park off Bells Ferry Road. A baseball tournament was in progress at the park when parents noticed the male taking pictures of children around the bleachers. When parents confronted the male, he ran from the park. Prior to the call being dispatched, deputies on patrol near the park observed a white male run across Towne Lake Parkway from Hobgood Park into the Bentley Hills subdivision. Deputies immediately entered the Bentley Hills subdivision as the call was being dispatched. Deputies began searching the area on foot, and the suspect was quickly located hiding behind a house.   

 

Currently Nathan Michael Haslick, 39, of Woodstock, is charged with Loitering and Prowling. Detectives from the Criminal Investigation Division were called to the scene and will be investigating the incident. Haslick is in custody at the Cherokee County Adult Detention Center with a $1,000 bond.

Credit Union of Georgia Named Forbes 2020 Best-In-State

Credit Union of Georgia Named Forbes 2020 Best-In-State
Local Credit Union Recognized by Forbes Second Year in a Row

 

WOODSTOCK – July 21, 2020 – Forbes recognizes Credit Union of Georgia as a Best-In-State Credit Union for the second year in a row. Credit Union of Georgia has proudly been serving the Northwest Georgia community for 60 years. With branch locations throughout Cobb County and Cherokee County plus a full line of digital services, they have helped thousands of members reach their financial goals for years.

 

“We are truly honored to be recognized as one of the Best-In-State Credit Unions for a second year in a row. Our employees work hard to serve our members and deserve to be recognized for their dedication. We are proud to be a trusted financial partner for so many in our community,” said Brian Albrecht, President and CEO.

 

There are more than 5,200 credit unions across the U.S. To determine which Credit Unions were the best, Forbes partnered with market research firm Statista to complete the research. Based on an independent survey, consumers were asked a series of 20 questions about their financial dealings. The Credit Unions were rated on overall satisfaction, recommendation and five subdimensions (trust, terms and conditions, branch services, digital services and financial advice). Only five Credit Unions in the state of Georgia received the Best-In-State designation by Forbes Magazine.

 

Credit Union of Georgia is continuing to serve members at all branch locations and drive-thrus during this time while adhering to CDC recommendations and guidelines to ensure safety for both members and employees. Learn more and join today at www.CUofGA.org.  

To view the full list of Forbes 2020 Best-In-State Credit Unions visit, www.forbes.com/best-in-state-credit-unions/.

Cherokee County Fleet Management Director Retirement and New Hire

CANTON, GA (July 16, 2020) - Cherokee County Fleet Management will have a change in leadership this month as Michael Dupuis retires after 17 years of service, and Tony Bryant takes the helm July 20. Dupuis retires July 17.

 

“Mike has been instrumental in the success that Fleet Management has experienced over the last 17years. I thank him for his years of service and wish him all the happiness that retirement can bring,” said Administrative Services Director Stacey Williams. “In looking towards the future, I feel Tony Bryant’s experience and leadership style is exactly what Fleet Management needs to continue building on all the great successes under Mike’s tenure as director.”

 

As the director of the Fleet Management Department, Dupuis supervised staff, oversaw daily operations and was instrumental in the design of a new 6,000-square-foot expansion to the existing fleet management facility.

 

“We have grown tremendously over the 17 years that I have been with Fleet Management,” said
Dupuis. “It's been an honor to work with the great group of people at Fleet and the county. I have enjoyed being part of the team that keeps Cherokee County vehicles safe and operational.”

 

Dupuis began his career with Cherokee County in 1999 as parts manager for Ryder Management, a private company the county contracted with for fleet services. In May 2003, the county formed its own Fleet Management Department and hired Dupuis as the first director. During Mr. Dupuis’ tenure, the department went on to achieve numerous accomplishments including recently being awarded, for the second time, Automotive Service Excellence’s Blue Seal of Excellence award last month.

 

As Dupuis’ career with Cherokee County culminates, Bryant’s will begin with a strong vision and plans for the future. An Army veteran and Bronze Star Medal recipient, Bryant brings with him more than 12 years of experience as a fleet/transportation manager for several companies including sanitation company Republic Services and Dobbins Air Force Base.

 

“I am truly excited to join Cherokee’s Fleet Management Department and am thrilled to be part of a public service organization who holds the same values I carried throughout my career in the U.S. Army – integrity, honesty, accountability, collaboration, and teamwork,” Bryant said. “I look forward to building upon the staff’s impressive expertise and stand ready to use my knowledge to bolster the departments offerings.”

 

Cherokee’s Fleet Management department is responsible for the maintenance and safety of all county vehicles on and off the road. Staff members are on call 24 hours a day, seven days a week throughout the year including inclement weather situations in which technicians are at the facility for 24 hours until after the inclement weather clears.

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