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Local News Archives for 2020-07

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 For more information about additional online services, visit

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

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  

To view the full list of Forbes 2020 Best-In-State Credit Unions visit,

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.

Health Officials Concerned about Gilmer County Spike in COVID-19 Cases - Encourage Testing

COVID-19 cases took a sharp increase in Gilmer County this past week, and public health officials are concerned the main cause could be the attendance of large gatherings in the county. Anyone who recently attended events such as church revivals or other local large gatherings in the county is encouraged to get tested for COVID-19.


Free COVID-19 testing is provided by the Gilmer County Health Department on Mondays and Fridays at the ETC Pavilion in Ellijay. Residents are to call 1-888-881-1474 to register and make an appointment.


On June 11, the total number of positive cases in the county was 166, including one death. Since then, one additional death occurred, and positive cases increased weekly by five to ten until reaching a total of 190 on July 2.


Most concerning, however, was a sudden spike in numbers so that as of July 9, there were 216 positive cases of COVID-19 in Gilmer County, and today, public health is reporting an additional ten cases in the county.


“That is an increase of 36 cases in just over a week,” said Dr. Zachary Taylor, Health Director of North Georgia Health District 1-2 of the Georgia Department of Public Health, which includes Gilmer County. “Considering the protective measures and proactive precautions against coronavirus that have been readily available and promoted by the CDC and public health, transmission of this virus should be decreasing in our communities, certainly not increasing.”


Health officials strongly urge residents to prevent further spread of the virus by always wearing a mask in public, frequently washing hands or using a hand sanitizer, avoiding large crowds, social distancing away from others by at least six feet, avoiding physical contact when in public by not shaking hands or giving hugs, and staying home and calling a doctor if COVID-19 symptoms appear or if close contact occurred to someone who tested positive for the virus within the past 14 days.


Meanwhile, public health continues to track the virus through contact tracing, which means people who test positive for COVID-19 identify others they may have exposed to the virus so that public health contact tracers can determine if those contacts need to be quarantined and tested.


Additionally, the Gilmer County Health Department is collaborating with the Gilmer County Public Safety and Emergency Management Agency, Gilmer County Family Connections, Gilmer County Schools and several local churches, businesses, and other community partners to educate residents on how to take protective measures against COVID-19. They have utilized several methods and venues to share bilingual materials with the public and have even provided free face masks.


County nurse manager, Krystal Sumner, said, “Even residents who are asymptomatic can receive the free testing we offer. Knowing who is carrying the virus helps public health get ahead of transmission and prevent the virus from spreading further. By taking this step and the other recommended protective measures, we can stop the spread of COVID-19 together.”


Learn more about free COVID-19 testing in North Georgia and the latest updates on how to stop the spread at "

Citizens Meet to Discuss Forming Keep Cherokee Beautiful Group

A new program to help keep the county clean, green and beautiful is gaining momentum. District 3 Commissioner Benny Carter held a community interest meeting June 30 at the BridgeMill Community Center. Limited to 25 people due to social distancing requirements, mask-donning interested residents attended to share their thoughts of how to get the program going.


“I took this to the commissioners in January, and our commissioners are behind this. I appreciate Bryan Reynolds who has stepped up and done most of the work for me,” Carter said. “I am also pleased with the community response. This needs to be a community driven program with county support.”


Carter added he wants to ensure this is not a siloed effort, understanding that cities in Cherokee County have complementing programs. Representatives from both Canton and Holly Springs attended the interest meeting.


“I want this to be an inclusive program,” Carter said. “I want to partner with Canton, Holly Springs, Woodstock, Waleska and Ball Ground and build on and support what they are doing. I also want to include the Chamber of Commerce who has had a going green initiative for many years. I don’t want to compete with or exclude anyone, and I want this to be truly countywide.”

About 20 people attended the interest session, including Recreation & Parks Board Member Mark Preetorius, who led the discussion; representatives of the Lake Allatoona Association; residents who have a heart for their community; and county staff involved with the project.

Reynolds, director of the county Community Services Agency, oversees both Cherokee Recreation & Parks and the Cherokee Recycling Center. Once the program is officially chartered and is underway, the Recycling Center will provide supplies like trash bags and will loan out trash grabbers for volunteers to use. Recycling Center staff also will handle pickups of trash following cleanup efforts.


“The Recycling Center will be the primary contact for Keep Cherokee Beautiful and serve as that support role as the county supports this initiative,” Reynolds said. “Some of the things the county has already done to get the wheels moving is the county attorney has drafted the charter and bylaws so as soon as we are ready to move forward with officers, the county is prepared to file with the Secretary of State and have a fully functional nonprofit organization.”

He added the IT Department has a website ready to publish and domain names reserved, and the county has identified some programs like Adopt-A-Road program, educational opportunities and large cleanup events to get started.


The top priority of Tuesday evening’s interest session was to not only gauge interest but to also determine what a Keep Cherokee Beautiful program would look like. Many in attendance are not new to litter cleanup and preservation efforts.

Linda Hartsfield, an Army Corps of Engineers retiree and “Lake Warrior” who is part of a concerted effort to remove litter from Lake Allatoona, shared data compiled of their cleanup efforts.


“Two and a half years ago, we had a group of folks who were put together to clean up year-round. They are known as the Lake Warriors. Since Nov. 5, 2019, they’ve collected 6.3 tons of trash. The majority of that trash is from Little River, Noonday Creek areas. We are aware this is a big problem,” Hartsfield said.


Craig Myers, who arrives to shoreline cleanup spots by canoe and is part of an Adopt-a-Stream program, said it’s important to capture the trash before it hits the waterways. Both he and Hartsfield addressed the use of trash weirs in the waters, and Hartsfield said she had been in contact with the Corps as recently as earlier that day about using them to collect trash in the water.


“The number 1 item we pick up is plastic bottles,” Myer said, adding the second most item they collect is tennis balls. He added thousands are collected in the Towne Lake area.

Those in attendance also shared suggestions of doing large item trash collections and special disposal days for things like hazardous chemicals and paint, and shared thoughts on groups to reach out to, including local high school groups and colleges.


There will be future interest meetings as Keep Cherokee Beautiful comes to fruition. Those interested in becoming part of the kick off of Keep Cherokee Beautiful should contact Troy Brazie, Cherokee Recycling Center manager, at

Marble Festival 2020 Update

"Protecting the safety of our community, our citizens, and our families is paramount in the minds of the Pickens County Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors. While our community safety measures have kept Covid-19 numbers lower than those of our neighboring communities, we do not feel it would be responsible to invite citizens from other communities into Pickens County for such a large event where social distancing would be difficult. 


With this safety in the forefront, we have made the incredibly difficult decision to cancel the 2020 Marble Festival.


We have begun planning a huge celebration for the 40th annual Georgia Marble Festival, themed “Throwback to the Eighties” to be held in October 2021. We look forward to celebrating with you then!"

Masks in Public

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