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Local News

Cherokee County Releases Early Voting Schedule

The Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration office has released the Early/Advance voting schedule and reminds residents to register to vote ahead of Election Day.

Early voting will be held Oct. 12 through Oct. 22 in the Northside Cherokee Conference Center at the Cherokee Administration Building, located at 1130 Bluffs Parkway in Canton, and the Elections Warehouse located at 400 East Main St. in downtown Canton. The South Annex, 7545 Main St., in Woodstock, also will serve as an early voting location.

“The decision to use the Northside Cherokee Conference Center as an early voting location will help to alleviate space issues at our current headquarters until we can get moved into our new location,” said Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration Director, Anne Dover.

The Elections Office is scheduled to move to its new location at 193 Lamar Haley Parkway in Canton next year.

Early voting at all three locations will be held from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. and on Saturday, Oct. 16 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Advance voting will begin the week of Oct. 23 running through Oct. 29, opening three additional voting locations which include the Hickory Flat Library located at 2740 East Cherokee Drive in Canton, Ball Ground Public Library located at 435 Old Canton Road in Ball Ground, and Rose Creek Public Library located at 4476 Towne Lake Parkway in Woodstock. All six locations will be open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Saturday voting is set for Oct. 23 from 9 a.m. until 5 p.m. at all six locations.

There will be no voting on Saturday, Oct. 30 or Monday, Nov. 1.

The voter registration deadline for the Nov. 2, Election is Oct. 4. Residents must be registered to vote. To register or to confirm registration please visit the Georgia Secretary of State’s website at

For more information, contact the Cherokee County Elections and Voter Registration office at 770-479-0407 or online at

The Isaacs inducted into the Grand Ole Opry

The award winning gospel group, The Isaacs, were inducted into the Grand Ole Opry on Tuesday night. 


The group recived an invitation to join from Ricky Skaggs during their August 10th preformance at the Opry. 


You can watch the induction ceremony here


The Isaacs are one of the most popular groups on WLJA, and have been featured on our Facebook Live concert series. You can watch our concert here


(Picture credit: The Grand Ole Opry Facebook Page)

Groundbreaking on the Buzz at Cherokee Veterans Park

– Local officials and residents gathered for a groundbreaking ceremony on Thursday, Sept. 9 for the construction of the new L.B. Ahrens Recreation Center to build at Cherokee Veterans Park.


“We’ve achieved a lot through the use of SPLOST and park bond funds to make this project happen,” said Board of Commissioners Chairman Harry Johnston. “In fact, this project will utilize the last bit of funding from the 2008 parks bond.” The Board approved the construction contract on July 20 of the L.B. Ahrens Recreation Center to Reeves Young, LLC in the amount of $10.4 million and an additional $1.58 million in a county-controlled contingency.


“This project has been a long time coming for the residents in my district,” said District 1 Commissioner Steve West, who represents the area. “I want to thank my fellow commissioners both previous and current for their help in getting this project off the ground.”


The first phase of the recreation center, known in short as “The Buzz” in honor of former Commission Chairman L.B. “Buzz” Ahrens, includes a double gym, open fitness area, climbing wall, two classrooms, aerobics/dance studio, a large meeting hall with catering kitchen and an office suite along with accompanying restrooms, mechanical, electrical and storage areas. The construction services contract also includes a secondary parking lot, pedestrian crossing to the park playground and infrastructure for EV charging stations. Construction is expected to last 15 months with an anticipated opening in late 2022.


“The message I want to convey is how principal, priorities, execution and fiscal integrity are woven into this world-class amenity,” said Ahrens, who provided comments in a pre-recorded message. Ahrens explained that in the mid 2000’s he saw the need for the county to have more active parks and greenspace. In 2008, Cherokee voters went to the polls and approved a $90 million-dollar parks and greenspace bond. The county then purchased the property for Cherokee Veterans Park in 2009 as one of the first purchases utilizing park bond funds. By 2017, all park bond funds had been committed and the recreation center project began with no funding or timeline. Eventually funds were generated through SPLOST collections and in 2018 the Veterans Memorial Monument was added to the park leading up to the construction of the recreation center.


“The sports metaphor is applicable here because team sports, for example, helps us learn how to function well as teams, which is something that Buzz did with the Board of Commissioners,” said Johnston. “Buzz took the agendas from five different commissioners with their own thoughts and ideas and despite their differences he brought everyone together to work as a team for the betterment of Cherokee County.”

North Georgia City Wins Innovative Fitness Chris Conti Memorial Grant Recipient for 2021

 Innovative Fitness today awarded the 2nd annual 2021 Chris Conti Memorial Grant to the City of Chatsworth, benefiting the city’s Police and Fire Departments. This year, all non-profits, public safety organizations, and public high schools in the state of Georgia were invited to apply. The brand-new fitness center will be housed within the Chatsworth Police Department located at 501 N 3rd Avenue. The police force presently consists of nineteen sworn officers and 2 administrative staff members in a city of 4,300 residents. The fire department maintains 14 full-time and 14 part-time employees. The newly designed fitness space will consist of the latest cardio, strength, and functional training equipment aimed to promote and encourage physical fitness among the police and fire workforce.


Patrol First Class Officer Rowe, of the Chatsworth Police Department stated, “We do not have the resources to provide a gym or pay for fitness memberships for our officers and are currently using donated equipment in a former training room. Having a fitness room on-site is the first step in the creation of our officer wellness program.” Chief Charles M. Baxter of Chatsworth Fire Department commented that, “Physical fitness and strength are critical tools for a firefighter. Fitness equipment that will allow our personnel to develop their strength, flexibility and cardiovascular endurance will have a direct positive impact on our ability to serve the citizens in our community.”


Innovative Fitness inaugurated the Chris Conti Memorial Grant (CCMG) in 2020 to honor the memory of their co-founder. The creation of the CCMG perfectly aligns with the company’s motto, “See a need, fill a need”, and will carry on Chris’ notable generosity and desire to give back to others in his community.


Innovative Fitness is a national supplier of fitness equipment and athletic flooring and provides a full range of services to their clients in both commercial and residential settings. The company strives to identify each client’s specific needs and goals in order to provide custom solutions that result in a one-of-a-kind fitness space. They are led by their core mission: uniting fitness and philanthropy to create and inspire healthier communities.

Plans for NE Cherokee Parks in the Works

Parks and recreation in the northern end of Cherokee County got a boost at the July 20 Board of Commissioners meeting. In two separate votes, the Board approved a construction agreement for the LB Ahrens Recreation Center at Cherokee Veterans Park and an agreement with TSW for the Northeast Cherokee Parks Master Plans.

“I am thrilled to be able to deliver on something I and the Board of Commissioners have seen as a priority in providing more parks and recreation services to the residents of northeast Cherokee County,” said District 1 Commissioner Steve West, who represents the area.

The Board approved, 5-0, awarding the construction contract of the LB Ahrens Recreation Center to Reeves Young LLC in the amount of $10.4 million and an additional $1.58 million in a county-controlled contingency using Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax funds and impact fees.

The first phase of the recreation center, known in short as “The Buzz” in honor of former Commission Chairman LB “Buzz” Ahrens, includes a double gym, open fitness area, climbing wall, two classrooms, aerobics/dance studio, a large meeting hall with catering kitchen and an office suite along with accompanying restrooms, mechanical, electrical and storage areas. The construction services contract also includes a secondary parking lot, pedestrian crossing to the park playground and infrastructure for EV charging stations.

The Board also approved an agreement with TSW for the creation of the Northeast Cherokee Parks Master Plans, which includes master plans three different parcels. Planning will be for the 102-acre

parcel in Free Home for the future E.W. and Edith Cochran Park, the 532-acre parcel on Yellow Creek Road along the Etowah River and the 23-acre parcel on Ball Ground Road at the Etowah River.

TSW created the SW Cherokee Parks & Trails Plan earlier this year. The plan creation included public engagement with the residents and businesses in the area. The plans for the northeast portion of the county are expected to follow similar processes to engage the community in the future planning of parks in the area.

“This master plan agreement puts a strong focus on residents’ needs in the way of parks and recreation. The process will allow the residents to share what they want and need, giving the county direction on future plans for parks,” West said.

Sheriff Franks Reynolds Appointed to Serve on Georgia Board of Drivers Services

Cherokee County Sheriff Frank Reynolds has been appointed to serve on the Georgia Board of Driver Services effective June 30, 2021. Georgia Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan made the appointment, which will run a six-year term expiring on June 30, 2027.


“I am very honored to serve on this Board, and I appreciate Lt. Gov. Duncan and Director Spencer Moore for giving me the opportunity to serve the citizens of Georgia,” said Sheriff Reynolds.


The Georgia Board of Driver Services governs the Department of Driver Services (DDS) which, was created on July 1, 2005. The DDS is responsible for enforcing and administering state laws and regulations relating to driver's licenses. All rules and regulations shall remain of full force and effect as rules and regulations of the DDS until amended, repealed, or superseded by rules or regulations adopted by the Commissioner of Driver Services.


The nine-member board will meet monthly to discuss issues related to improving customer service, advancing technology and protecting the safety of the citizens of Georgia.

Georgia Foundation for Agriculture & Georgia EMC Donate Books to Local Libraries

For the 6th year in a row, The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture and the Georgia Electric Membership Corporation (EMC) are jointly promoting agricultural literacy by donating copies of the children’s book “Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish” to the more than 400 libraries in the Georgia Public Library Service (GPLS).


The Georgia Foundation for Agriculture (GFA) and Georgia EMC have given each county Farm Bureau in Georgia enough books for every public library in the county. Cherokee County Farm Bureau recently delivered a copy of the book to the Ball Ground Public Library, Cherokee County Law Library, Hickory Flat Public Library, R. T. Jones Memorial Library, Rose Creek Public Library and Woodstock Public Library.


“Tales of the Dairy Godmother: Chuck’s Ice Cream Wish” written by Viola Butler and illustrated by Ward Jenkins. With the help of his Dairy Godmother, Chuck is taken—poof! —on a memorable and delicious adventure to a dairy farm. He finds out exactly where ice cream comes from and gains an even deeper love and appreciation for his favorite food. The American Farm Bureau Foundation for Agriculture selected the book as its 2021 Book of the Year for its accurate and positive portrayal of agriculture.

First Citizen of Cherokee County Named

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to announce that Jim Lindenmayer has been named the 46th recipient of the First Citizen of Cherokee County Award. He was honored during the Chamber's 50th Annual Meeting held Wednesday, May 12, 2021.


Jim Lindenmayer, 63, grew up on a farm just north of Herkimer, New York and graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in Chemical Engineering.


Commissioned as an officer in the United States Army serving with the Armored Cavalry Branch of Combat Arms, Mr. Lindenmayer held various command and staff positions at both the troop level and the squadron level including platoon leader, troop Executive Officer, and Squadron Motor Officer. His last assignment was at Fort Benning, Georgia where he was assigned to the Army Review Board to review the Infantry Fighting Vehicle. In 1989 he was discharged after serving in the Reserves following active duty.


Following retirement in 2014 from HCL America as a Senior Account Executive, and while working on his father’s VA claim, he sought a project that could make a difference in people’s lives. In November 2014, after much research and over 20 years as a member of the American Legion, the Cherokee County Homeless Veteran Program was created Mr. Jim Lindenmayer serving as Director. He previously or currently volunteers with organizations and efforts such as Balance of State (BOS) Homeless Committee through the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, Operation Not Forgotten, Adopt A Vet program along with veteran efforts through Cherokee County Senior Services. Having been recognized in 2018 with the Georgia State Daughters of the American Revolution Outstanding Veteran Volunteer Award, in 2019 Jim Lindenmayer’s efforts were once again highlighted during the dedication of the homeless veteran statue in Cherokee Veterans Park. Mr. Lindenmayer continues to serve fellow veterans in Cherokee County where he and his wife have called home for over 26 years.


“The Cherokee County Chamber was honored to name Mr. Lindenmayer as the 46th recipient of the prestigious First Citizen of Cherokee County Award. It is obvious, based upon his accomplishments, why he was selected,” remarked Adam Smith, Synovus Senior Vice-President & Commercial Banker, and 2021 Chamber Board Chair.


The title of First Citizen of Cherokee County is bestowed upon a resident of Cherokee County who has resided in the county for a minimum of five years and has shown significant meritorious service to his/her community through family, civic and/or religious involvement. A panel of out-of-town judges reviews the accomplishments of each applicant then the winner is chosen based upon merit. The 2021 recipient joins a prestigious list of honorees including former Canton physician Dr. Grady Coker, who was the initial recipient in 1971, along with William G. Hasty, Jr. who was selected in 2020.

Cherokee County Senior Center to return to Full Capacity

Cherokee County Senior Services will lift capacity limitations and resume normal business hours at its Senior Centers starting May 10.


“We are so excited to get our clients back in the centers and socializing with their friends again,” said Cherokee County Senior Services Director Tim Morris. “Although 90 percent of our senior clients are fully vaccinated, we will continue to keep several safety protocols in place.”


The Senior Center in Canton plans to reopen Monday, May 10 with capacity limitations lifted. The Center will be open from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday. The Center is closed Saturday and Sunday. Masks will continue to be required at the Senior Center in Canton, but social distancing requirements will be lifted.


The Ball Ground Senior Center will reopen Tuesday, May 11, with capacity limitations lifted. The Center will be open Tuesdays and Wednesdays, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The center is closed Monday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Clients will continue to be required to wear a mask. The building falls under mask requirements issued by the Ball Ground City Council.


For both Centers, clients will have their temperatures checked each day, and both staff and clients who feel sick will not be allowed to enter. Clients who take CATS transportation will have their temperature checked before boarding the bus.


For information about the Cherokee Senior Centers re-openings, call 770-345-2675.

Braves Game Cancelled

This afternoon's game between the Atlanta Braves and the Washington Nationals has been postponed because of COVID issues with the Nationals, who have not played a regular season game so far.   No word on when the game will be rescheduled...The games for Tuesday and Wednesday are scheduled to be played at this time, with ther Lead-Off Show two began at 2:50 both days on WLJA-FM. 

Cherokee Man Pleads Guilty

March 31, 2021 – District Attorney Shannon Wallace announces that Yann Fredrick Engamba, 20, has pleaded guilty and was sentenced for homicide by vehicle in the first degree, serious injury by vehicle, and reckless driving.

The charges relate to a single vehicle crash on November 27, 2018, involving four Creekview High School students on Old Orange Mill Road in Cherokee County. Witnesses reported that Engamba was driving his 2003 Infiniti G35 in a reckless manner and not maintaining his lane before veering off the side of the road and striking a tree.

The crash resulted in the death of Stephen “Stevie” Smith, 17, and serious injuries to Chase Burr, who was 17 at the time.

“On November 27, 2018, three young people made the decision to climb into Engamba’s car and take a ride, never expecting Engamba to put their lives in danger,” said Deputy Chief Assistant District Attorney David Holmes, who prosecuted the case on behalf of the State. “Instead of exercising due care to his passengers, Engamba chose to speed and drive recklessly. His actions led to a collision that ended the life of a promising young man and severely injured another.”

During the two-day hearing, which was conducted through Zoom video conferencing on March 17 and March 19, a total of 15 witnesses provided impact statements on behalf of the victims.

Family and friends described Stevie as the type of person who had a zest for life, who always saw the positive in others, and who looked out for his sisters and his friends. Their impact statements reflected the grief and pain they carry to this day.

Several individuals also spoke of Burr, whose injuries left him no longer able to compete in track and field, ending his dream of someday being an Olympic athlete.

The State recommended a sentence of 30 years, with 10 to serve in confinement, 240 hours of community service, and other conditions. Defense attorney Scott Poole proposed a sentence revolving around probation and mental health treatment.

After accepting Engamba’s guilty plea on March 19, Cherokee County Superior Court Judge David Cannon Jr. sentenced the defendant to 15 years with a total of 12 months to serve in the Cherokee County adult detention center and the remainder to serve on probation. The defendant must perform 2,400 hours of community service, pay restitution, have no contact with the victims’ friends or family members, avoid drug and alcohol use, not possess firearms, complete a DUI risk reduction course and a defensive driving course, and submit to random drug screenings.

Judge Cannon specified that the defendant will serve approximately 40 days in custody each year for the next three years, to be completed the Tuesday before Thanksgiving through January 3rd of the following year. Judge Cannon explained that this sentencing ensures that Engamba will not be able to spend holidays at home or celebrate New Year’s Eve for the next three years. Additionally, Judge Cannon wanted to ensure that the defendant spent the anniversary of this tragedy in custody.

“This was an unnecessary tragedy. A young life with so much promise was lost, and another life was permanently altered,” said District Attorney Shannon Wallace. “Our hope is that other drivers will see that reckless decision making behind the wheel can lead to loss of life and will think before acting in such a way.”


The Office of the District Attorney for the Blue Ridge Judicial Circuit is committed to seeking justice, acting with integrity, and collaborating with partner agencies in the criminal justice system in order to protect the citizens of Cherokee County and the State of Georgia.

Life Jacket Loaner Station Provides Live Saving Reminder

The installation of a new life jacket loaner station led a potentially lifesaving reminder earlier this week.


On March 22, representatives from TowBoat U.S. responded to a call of a grounded vessel north of Cherokee Mills Park. The boat owner, Ruddy Morrow, was returning to the boat ramp in the park when he ran aground and was tossed overboard into Lake Allatoona. Although Morrow sustained no injuries he credits the newly installed life jacket loaner station for keeping him safe.


“I noticed a sign with life jackets hanging on it, and it reminded me to put my life jacket on,” said Morrow.


Loaner stations were recently installed at both Cherokee Mills Park located at 6900 Bells Ferry Road in Woodstock and Field’s Landing Park located at 600 Fields Landing Drive in Canton. The stations were provided in partnership by Safe Kids Cherokee County and Cherokee Recreation and Parks Agency.


The new “use and return” stations are in addition to the 11 current stations around Lake Allatoona in Cherokee County. Cherokee Recreation and Parks will maintain the loaner stations at both parks.


“2020 was a record year for boaters, kayakers, canoers and paddle boarders on our lake and it’s looking like 2021 will be no different,” said Safe Kids Cherokee County Coordinator Lisa Grisham. “With the increase in people, there is always an increase in risk. We hope the addition of the new and easily accessible loaner stations will serve as a reminder to remain safe in the water.”


Each of the new loaner stations include information provided by the BoatUS Foundation to help users correctly size and wear the life jackets.


“The point is to use the life jackets when needed and use it correctly for the best protection,” said Grisham.


For additional safety information visit Safe Kids Cherokee County at www.safekidscherokeecounty.or

Cherokee County Teacher Selected for the 2021 National Excellence In Teaching About Agriculture Award

A Cherokee County Teacher was selected for the 2021 National Excellence in Teaching about Agriculture Award. 


Karen Garland, a Science teacher at Clark Creek Middle School in Acworth, is one of the eight winners across the country. She uses a school garden to teach kindergarteners about the five senses, first graders about the   water cycle, second graders about plant and animal life cycles, third graders about habitat conservation and soil health, fourth graders about the weather and ecosystems and fifth graders about erosion and other destructive forces in the garden and classification systems. 


Karen won the Award for the State of Georgia, now she will be invited to the 2021 National Agriculture in the Classroom Conference  in Des Moines, Iowa.


The National Agriculture in the Classroom Organization (NAITCO), U.S. Department of Agriculture’s National Institute of Food and Agriculture (USDA-NIFA) and Farm Credit partner each year to honor teachers in pre-kindergarten through 12th grade (Pre-K-12) from around the country for the innovative ways they use agricultural concepts to teach reading, writing, math, science, social studies, STEM, STEAM and more. 

Henriques Announces He will not run for another term as Woodstock Mayor

After 20 years of public service to the City of Woodstock, Mayor Donnie Henriques has announced that he will not seek re-election for another term for Mayor. 


Mayor Henriques said “After much discussion with my family and friends, I have come to the decision to not run for reelection to a fifth term as Mayor.  Twenty years of public service between Mayor and one term as a City Councilman is enough in my book.  It’s time for someone else to pick up the torch and run with it.  I’d like to thank the residents and businesses of Woodstock for their support in our efforts to bring Woodstock to where it is today.”


Henriques was first elected to the City Council in 2000 and was elected Mayor of the City of Woodstock in 2005.  Qualifying to run for Mayor will be in late August with the election in November of this year.  

Cherokee County Chamber Names 2021 Board Chair

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce is pleased to congratulate Adam Smith, Senior Vice President and Commercial Banker with Synovus whose term begins today as the organization’s 2021 Board Chair. Smith, who follows 2020 Board Chair David Simmons, Chattahoochee Technical College Vice President for Facilities, has been actively involved with the Chamber for the past nine years. He and his wife, Laura, reside in Canton with their two children.


Pre-COVID-19, the Chamber year would officially begin with an Annual Meeting where the accomplishments of the past year are highlighted, various awards are presented, outgoing and incoming Board members are recognized and in Smith’s case, a new Board Chair takes the helm. In December 2020 Chamber leadership determined that in anticipation of celebrating 2020 successes in the most traditional format possible, the Chamber’s Annual Meeting would be delayed from the typical January timeframe until later in the spring when optimistically larger groups can gather. Chamber members are encouraged to watch their email for the date and event details.


Those volunteers who will be recognized during the delayed celebration for completing a three-year term on the Chamber Board include Heather Blevins, The Pampered Chef; Phil Eberly, Lead Edge Design Group; Tom Heard, Cherokee County Water & Sewerage Authority and Deidre Hollands. Additionally, Tracey Satterfield Martin, Live Clean, Inc., served in an unexpired term since April 2019, and Immediate Past Chair John Barker, Delphi Global Technology, has completed seven years of service.


The newly elected Board members who officially begin their terms today, and will serve through December of 2023, include Dedre Brown, Georgia Department of Labor; Jeff Butterworth, Georgia Power Company; Sarah Gaither, iBeria Bank – a division of First Horizon Bank; Scott Gordon, CPL; Jennifer Puckett, In Harmony Pediatric Therapy; Janet Read Welch, Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, and Dr. Mark Roberts, Reinhardt University.

“The Chamber owes a debt of gratitude to outgoing Board Chair David Simmons for his leadership during 2020. I look forward to working with him in his role as Immediate Past Chair and appreciate his support of me as I begin my term. The opportunity to work alongside the new Board members, as well as those whose Board terms are continuing, is exciting as well. In our volunteer role, we will work collaboratively with the organization’s outstanding staff to support the Chamber’s mission,” remarked Smith.


Among the awards to be presented during the anticipated Annual Meeting is the coveted First Citizen of Cherokee County recognition. The title of First Citizen of Cherokee County is bestowed upon a resident of Cherokee County who has resided in the county for a minimum of five years and has shown significant meritorious service to his/her community through family, civic and/or religious involvement. A panel of out-of-town judges reviews the accomplishments of each applicant with the winner being chosen based upon merit. Additional accolades to be announced during the Annual Meeting include Small Business of the Year, Excellence in Customer Service Award, Green Business of the Year, and Non-Profit of the Year. The 2020 Chairman’s Council “Joan McFather Volunteer of the Year Award” will be presented as well.

Rick Jasperse set to become House Transportation Chairman

State Representative Rick Jasperse of Jasper, Ga has been tapped to lead the powerful Transportation Committee in the Georgia State House. 


Jasperse will take over as House Transportation Chairman from Former State Rep. Kevin Tanner who resigned to run for Congress last year.  As Chairman of the Transportation Committee, Jasperse will lead the flow of legislation dealing with roads and transportation issues in the State House.  Representative Jasperse was the former Chairman of the Education Committee in the Georgia House last session. 


He is starting his 6th term representing citizens in the 11th District.  The 11th District includes all of Pickens County and portions of Gordon and Murray Counties. 

Gilmer Chamber Selects New President & CEO

Gilmer County Chamber of Commerce leaders have selected an experienced chamber and tourism professional as the new president and chief executive officer of the business organization. Jennifer Grimmer was unanimously approved by the chamber’s board of directors on Friday, January 15 to lead the 650 member chamber which serves as the Destination Marketing Organization (DMO) for East Ellijay, Ellijay, and Gilmer County.  


Grimmer previously served as the Executive Director of the Peachtree City Convention and Visitors Bureau – Atlanta Regional Tourism from 2015 – 2018. She is currently the Marketing Manager/Digital Marketing Specialist for the Natural Resources and Wildlife Division with the State of Utah in Salt Lake City where she has created and implemented a marketing strategy for the Department of Wildlife Resources.


“The chamber’s search committee was very focused on the qualifications of the candidates we wanted to interview,” according to Chris Wang, 2020 Chair. “Chamber, tourism, and marketing experiences were dominant skill sets that are required of the president. Jennifer met all of those prerequisites on paper and in person.” 


Originally from Oregon and a 2000 graduate of the University of Oregon, Grimmer grew up in a community that depended heavily on small businesses and tourism, similar to East Ellijay, Ellijay and Gilmer County. She has held chamber and tourism positions in Corvallis, Wilsonville, and Medford/Jackson County, all in Oregon, and Wahkiakum in Washington State. While in Wilsonville, Grimmer founded Oregon Horse Country (OHC) as an arm of the Wilsonville Chamber. The organization focuses on connecting, strengthening and representing the equine industry in the state. Lodging tax for Wilsonville increased by 30% following launch of OHC after its first year in operation.  Forming OHC garnered the Core Competency Award from the Western Chamber Executives Association in 2011 for the Wilsonville Chamber.  


“The opportunity to return to Georgia and be a part of an organization like the Gilmer Chamber is a dream come true for me,” Grimmer said. “My husband and I are recently empty-nesters and I’m excited to find a position I can pour myself into, make a priority and make a difference. My first initiative will be to listen to the community and build upon the foundations that are already in place in terms of tourism and chamber programs.”


Grimmer’s successes in Peachtree City include the founding of the annual Hops and Props Georgia beer festival in partnership with the Commemorative Air Force as well as the Annual Wine and Warbirds Festival. She also served on the boards of the Fayette County Chamber and Arts Council of Fayette County. Other accomplishments include graduating from both Leadership Fayette and the Georgia Academy of Economic Development.  


“The timing is right to bring Jennifer into the community as our new president,” said Wang. “Gilmer County was a great place for people to come spread out in throughout 2020, and we are excited to have a new president bringing fresh ideas for 2021 to continue to market our area as a perfect destination for all people to get away to. Jennifer’s expertise can play a large role in furthering the chamber’s core values of Integrity, Kindness, Collaboration, and Vision.”


Grimmer and her husband Ben, who served as a United States Marine, plan to move to Gilmer County in the next few weeks. Her first day at the chamber will be February 1.  


Members of the search committee, in addition to Wang, included Amber Davenport, United Community Bank, past chamber chair; John Marshall, past chamber chair; Bobby McNeill, Chateau Meichtry Family Vineyard & Winery, 2021 Chair of the chamber; Lex Rainey, past chamber Chair; Donna Reece, Piedmont Mountainside Hospital, current chamber board member; and Jason Smith, ETC and ETC Security, Treasurer/Secretary of the chamber.


The president’s position became vacant in the fall of 2020 when Paige (Green) Hutto resigned her seat to move to Alabama. She had served the community for 12 years and grown the chamber in both influence and valuable programming. 


The chamber board engaged The Chason Group to lead the executive search process. The firm, which is Georgia based, specializes in executive searches for chambers of commerce, economic development organizations, foundations and other non-profits. The placement of Grimmer marks the third Gilmer Chamber president recruited by The Chason Group.

All Cherokee County Schools District students on Virtual Learning 11 January through 19 January

From Cherokee County School District:


Dear CCSD Families,

When we welcomed our students back for in-person learning on Wednesday to fulfill our commitment of providing the best education possible to our students, we did so with the knowledge of the state of public health in our community.


Cases are higher in our community, our state and our nation than ever before.  Health experts are voicing concerns that a new COVID-19 strain now circulating in our nation will spread faster among everyone, including school-age children.  Our hospitals are full.


Our dedicated workforce of teachers, staff and substitutes have been affected by the community spread like all of their neighbors.  This afternoon, we now have more than 400 of our full-time staff absent due to COVID-19 positive cases and precautionary quarantines, with more test results pending; and our substitute availability is similarly weakened.


We cannot continue to operate in-person school safely with this level of staff absences.

As a result, I am temporarily closing in-person learning at all CCSD schools beginning Monday, Jan. 11, with a tentative reopening date of Tuesday, Jan. 19, following the observance of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Day (Monday, Jan. 18), which is a holiday for students and staff.  We understand this closing creates hardships, but it is a necessary measure which gives our students, families and employees the next 10 calendar days to get healthier.


Students will be expected to log on to the Canvas platform for daily instruction.  Teachers and staff will report to campus and will be teaching online throughout the day and be available to answer emails during regular school hours.  If you have any questions, please contact your child’s classroom teacher.  Specific extra-curricular activities will be permitted to continue after school with additional safety measures in place, but continuation will be closely monitored for possible cancellation; no community use of CCSD facilities will be permitted.  


Parents whose children do not have access to a laptop computer or internet access need to contact the school front office as soon as possible.  Students who need to pick up medication or other items that they must have during this closure should call the school’s front office to make an appointment.  


School Nutrition will have to-go meals for the week prepared for pick-up in the bus lanes of schools from 10 a.m. to noon on Monday, Jan. 11.  Students do not have to be with parents who pick up these meals.


Please continue to report your child’s positive test to their school during this closure; stay home when you’re sick (use this checklist:; get tested if you’re symptomatic or if you have had a close contact with someone who is positive; and if you are directed to quarantine, please follow the instructions and limit interaction with non-family members.

We are committed to providing the best education possible for all students, which we believe happens in person under the guidance of our outstanding teachers and the support of our staff, but the current staffing situation makes my decision today necessary.  


Thank you,

Dr. Brian V. Hightower
Superintendent of Schools

Hotline Available for COVID-19 Vaccination Appointments In North Georgia

 Due to an overwhelming response to the recently announced expanded COVID-19 vaccination eligibility beginning on Monday, January 11 in Georgia, the North Georgia Health District is experiencing some technical difficulties as large volumes of traffic hit our online system. Therefore, starting Friday, January 8, the district will add a toll-free hotline number as a means for eligible individuals to make an appointment for a vaccination at their local county health department. That number to our Call Center will be 1-888-881-1474.


As of Monday, January 11, 2021, COVID-19 vaccinations will be provided at Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties to these groups of individuals that will be part of the newly expanded Phase 1-A of the Georgia COVID-19 Vaccination Plan:


Staff in clinical settings (e.g., physicians, nurses, pharmacists, EMS, laboratory staff, environmental services). 

Residents and staff at long-term care facilities who have been unable to get vaccinated. 

All adults 65 years of age or older and their caregivers, and law enforcement and fire personnel.


Beginning Friday, January 8, to make a vaccination appointment, eligible residents should call 1-888-881-1474. Residents can resume registration online beginning Monday, January 11 at If you experience difficulties getting through, please be patient and be assured you will be provided an appointment for your COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible.


Residents must preregister to be vaccinated and must register in the county where they live or work. Walk-ins will not be accepted.

Northside Hospital Cherokee updates visitor restrictions due to COVID-19

To help prevent the transmission and spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, Northside Hospital is taking precautions to protect patients, family members, staff, and the community. Entry to all five Northside hospitals and specialty facilities is restricted.


Visitors will not be accepted at Northside Hospital Atlanta, Northside Hospital Cherokee, Northside Hospital Duluth, Northside Hospital Forsyth, Northside Hospital Gwinnett, Northside Gwinnett Extended Care Center, Northside Gwinnett Joan Glancy, or outpatient facilities. Outpatient facilities include all Northside Hospital Cancer Institute outpatient oncology practices and infusion centers.


Exceptions to the Visitor Policy (all hospital facilities):

  • Women’s Services, Surgical and procedural areas will continue to permit one support person/care partner per patient. Labor & Delivery patients are allowed one support person of the mother's choosing for the duration of the hospital stay. No substitutions allowed
  • Northside Hospital Special Care Nurseries will permit one primary caregiver to visit their infant in the NICU for one hour each day, and this may be extended to four hours for discharge training. Northside staff will continue to provide resources – including tablets for live streaming and emailed photographs – to enable visitors to connect with the babies.
  • Patients undergoing outpatient surgery or procedures are allowed one visitor in the waiting room.
  • Minor patients (under 18) are allowed two visitors
  • There may be additional exceptions as determined by hospital leadership for patients receiving end of life care, rapid decline in condition, emergency care, behavioral health concerns, or other unique patient conditions
  • Northside reserves the right to reduce visitation access at any time based on public health and safety concerns

Visitor Screening Guidelines and Requirements

Visitors will be required to:

  • Wear a facemask/cloth face covering at all times while in the facility
  • Perform frequent hand hygiene
  • Remain in the patient's room or other designated area
  • Comply with the guidelines or they will be asked to leave the facility

Visitors will be screened for symptoms of acute respiratory illness in accordance with the CDC guidelines before entering the facility: 

  • Visitors with a positive screen will not be permitted to enter the facility
  • Visitors with a negative screen will receive a colored armband each day. The band must be worn for the duration of each daily visit.

During this time, we encourage family members and friends to use alternative means to interact with loved ones via phone and video calls (FaceTime, Skype, etc.), social media and other tools

Cherokee County Board of Commissioners give COVID-19 Vaccine update

The Cherokee County Board of Commissioners has received numerous inquiries about the availability of the COVID-19 vaccine in Cherokee County. The health department located in Cherokee County is run by the Georgia Department of Public Health North Georgia Health District not by Cherokee County government.


After receiving numerous inquiries from concerned citizens, Cherokee County Commission Chairman Harry Johnston reached out to Dr. Zachary Taylor, Georgia Department of Public Health Director for North Georgia. Dr. Taylor advised that DPH is working this week to vaccinate medical workers and residents of long-term care facilities. Next week, they expect to begin vaccinating police officers and fire personnel, as well as citizens over the age of 65.

Taylor said the state-run health department in Woodstock will be the primary location in Cherokee County for vaccinations. Testing still will be available there but on a more limited basis.


The North Georgia Health District is expecting to launch a website later this week that will allow citizens age 65 and older to sign up for appointments. The site will be accessible at


The over-65 phase is expected to take at least the rest of this month with the expectation that the program will be expanded in early to mid-February to all adults over 31 years old with an emphasis on front line jobs like teachers, food service workers and adults in congregate environments like jails. As that phase completes, the program is expected to be expanded to young adults and children.


For any information regarding administering of the COVID-19 vaccine, appointments or locations, please visit and/or follow their social media accounts.

Rep. Loudermilk Quarantining with COVID-19

Rep. Barry Loudermilk (R-GA) was tested late last week, after finding out he had come in contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19. He tested positive and is currently quarantining. He has issued the following statement:

“I’m quarantining at home in Georgia, with mild symptoms, but I look forward to getting back to my full legislative duties as soon as possible.”

Concert Group

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