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Local News Archives for 2022-05

Canton Police Announce Officer Involved Shooting Leaving One Dead

The GBI is investigating an officer-involved shooting in Canton.  Officers responded to a local subdivision to investigate a suspicious person at 2:19 am on Wednesday, May 25, 2022, when the shooting occurred.  One man is deceased, and no officers were reported injured.  The incident happened on the 700 block of Midway Ave.  

As per the department's policy, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) is conducting the investigation, and the Canton Police Department is fully cooperating.  Further questions or inquiries about this incident should be forwarded to the GBI-PIO.

Additional information will be made available as the investigation progresses.

Cherokee Tax Assessor's Office Announces Increase in Assessment Values Due to Inflation

Cherokee County property owners have begun receiving their annual assessment notices and may see inflationary increases in their assessment values due to trends in real estate and inflation.

The average assessment increase is about 23 percent. According to the Tax Assessor’s Office, 100,575 parcels (92% of total tax parcels) in Cherokee County have increased in value. The Office also reports that 1,869 parcels decreased in value, and 6,162 parcels had no change from the previous year.

Georgia state law dictates how assessments must be completed, including evaluations and deadlines for exemptions and assessment notifications.

“The Cherokee County Board of Tax Assessors follows the appraisal guidelines provided by the Georgia Code and Appraisal Procedures Manual. The goal is to achieve ‘Fair Market Value’ as defined in the code section 48-5-2 (3),” Chief Appraiser Steve Swindell said. “The appraisal staff uses three approaches to value (sales comparison, cost and income) to determine valuation of properties. Statistical analysis, as provided by law, is used to calculate the level of assessment, uniformity and assessment bias for a group of properties defined by area, neighborhood, or class of property (residential, agricultural, commercial and industrial.)”

Those who filed a homestead exemption by April 1 that was approved have an assessment value freeze for county maintenance and operations dictated by a 2008 local resolution and a $5,000 exemption off the assessed value. The freeze and homestead exemption do not apply to fire district, parks bond or the Board of Education-controlled school millage rates. The freeze stays with the property owner until the property is sold or modifications are made to the property. Disabled veterans and senior citizens have additional exemptions as long as they applied for them by the April 1 deadline.

The appeals process is underway and is outlined on each assessment notice. Property owners have until June 30 to file any appeals. Any questions regarding assessment notices should be directed to the Tax Assessor’s Office by calling 678-493-6120. More information can be found at

The county budget and millage-rate setting process will take place this summer. The Board of Commissioners must adopt the 2022 millage rate by July 19, 2022, according to state law. The BOC must also adopt the millage rate set by the Board of Education, which will set its millage rate this summer, as well. Assessment notices recently mailed are not tax bills. Tax bills will be mailed in the fall of 2022 after each jurisdiction, including local city councils, set their millage rates.

Impact Grants Awarded by Cherokee County Educational Foundation

The Cherokee County Educational Foundation surprised 21 local school district teachers this week with Classroom Impact Grants totaling $40,000 for this school year.

CCEF also awarded more than $10,000 in Rapid Grants of up to $500 on a monthly basis, and funds districtwide initiatives as requested.

Founded in 2012 to help raise funds and awareness for the public schools of the Cherokee County Public School District to ensure excellence in the classrooms, CCEF has awarded more than $1 million since its inception.

“This organization of community volunteers each year diligently leads the effort to make sure our teachers get those additional resources they need to help our students do their best,” CCEF Executive Director Lisa Marie Haygood said. “We continue to celebrate the innovation we see in our teachers, students, and community.”

Applications for Classroom Impact Grants open in November and are available for funding up to $2,500 per classroom. A committee of at least five judges grade the applications individually and the scores are compiled and ranked to decide which teachers are awarded grants.

The number of grants awarded each year depends on fundraising efforts at the annual Celebration of Education Gala.

“Without the outpouring of support, we would not be able to fulfill our mission. This year was a tremendous success,” Haygood said.

Classroom Impact Grants were given to the following teachers:

· Virginia Baldwin, R.M. Moore Elementary School.

· Jennifer Campbell, Dean Rusk Middle School

· Ty Casteel, Etowah High School.

· Jill Cole, Clark Creek Elementary School.

· Brooke Dillon, Mill Creek Middle School.

· Nina Eidson, Knox Elementary School.

· Jim Elder, Mill Creek Middle School.

· Adrianne Fagan, Woodstock High School.

· Jennifer Falco, E.T. Booth Middle School.

· Cathy Fernandez, E.T. Booth Middle School.

· Amanda Graves, E..T Booth Middle School.

· Chelsea Leming, Indian Knoll Elementary School.

· Denise Lewis, Oak Grove Elementary School.

· Sandy McPherson, Clayton Elementary School.

· Sarah Munroe, Macedonia Elementary School.

· Hillary Nichols, Active Academy/I-Grad.

· Tina Plousis, Hickory Flat Elementary School.

· Angela Topper, Oak Grove Elementary School.

· Keara Rubin, River Ridge High School.

· Lisa Spence, Hasty Elementary School.

· Amy Walker, Johnston Elementary School.

Skilled Professions Signing Day Elevates High-Demand, High-Tech Careers

Be Pro Be Proud Georgia – a comprehensive initiative that connects students to post-secondary training and careers within the skilled professions through a comprehensive website and mobile workshop – teamed up with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), the Cherokee County School District, and Chattahoochee Technical College, to host Skilled Professions Signing Day at The Circuit Woodstock on May 10, 2022.

“Working within the skilled professions is more than just finding a high-wage, stable career – it’s discovering a sense of pride that comes from building something from the ground up,” said COED President Misti Martin. “From nerdy to dirty, we spotlight essential careers that are life-changing.”

Similar to national signing days for athletes, the second annual event celebrated 34 high school seniors representing all six Cherokee high schools for their commitment to pursuing one of Be Pro Be Proud Georgia’s 15 skilled professions, including Automotive, Computer Programming, Construction, Electrical, Health Care, and Welding.

2021 signing day honoree Christian Preiser returned to speak with this year’s honorees about the benefits of working within the skilled trades. After volunteering in the mobile workshop as a Most Valuable Pro (MVP) and graduating from Woodstock High, Preiser turned his passion for electrical work into a profitable career as an apprentice at Hewatt Electrical Contractors.

“I get paid to do what I love and am proud to be working as an electrician – a job that is truly satisfying and making a difference,” said Preiser. “My company is even providing on-the-job training and paying for me to become a certified electrical worker at IBEW Local 613. Be Pro Be Proud Georgia was a major catalyst for my success.”

Construction Ready Vice President of K-12 Zach Fields, a Be Pro Be Proud partner, highlighted the importance of building a strong K-12 pipeline to fulfill Georgia’s growing demand for skilled workers while offering students affordable training options.

“Debt-free post-secondary options after high school are THE answer for thousands of students coming out of Georgia’s public school system,” said Fields. “We have to reach students earlier through robust career pathway programs like CTAE and initiatives like Be Pro Be Proud, which are the foundation for students to make these important career choices.”

In April 2022, Wellstar Health System joined Be Pro Be Proud as its first health care partner, a field that is projected to grow more than 10 percent over the next decade. Of those participating in signing day, six honorees are pursuing advanced technical training in health care-related fields.

“As one of the Southeast’s largest healthcare systems, Wellstar looks forward to having this incredible opportunity to expose students to skilled professions in healthcare and navigate them to a successful career through this innovative program,” said Wellstar Vice President of Strategic Community Development Stephen Vault.

Since launch, Be Pro Be Proud has reached over 20,000 students and has made over 228 tour visits –140 across the state and 88 in Cherokee.

2022 signing day honoree Will Nichelson discovered his career path during a Be Pro Be Proud visit to Creekview High School. “I knew I wanted to work with my hands and our school didn’t have many options,” said Nichelson. “I was asked to help on the mobile workshop in 10th grade and it was cool playing with the simulators. This experience encouraged me to look into welding. I learned that I could go to Chattahoochee Technical College and do welding as a high school student, so I am graduating this year with my welding certifications before I am finished with high school.”

Guest speaker Dr. Brian V. Hightower, Superintendent of Schools for the Cherokee County School District added, “We’re here to help every student prepare for their future, and for many students, that next step is pursuing a skilled professional career. We’re deeply proud of these students for making a commitment to fulfill important roles in our community. We’re also grateful for our partnership with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development, as it has led to more career focused opportunities for our students like this special signing day event.” 


Enjoy Cherokee Magazine and WLJA 101.1 FM Sponsor Retiring Educators Recognition

The Cherokee County Chamber of Commerce Education Committee, in partnership with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine and WLJA 101.1 FM, is recognizing retiring educators from the Cherokee County School District by donating funds to the Sequoyah Regional Library System. The funds will be used to purchase books for the library branches located in Cherokee County. The books will include a label recognizing all faculty, staff and administrators who retired during the 2021-2022 school year. Each retiree will receive notification that a book is being donated in their honor.

“This is the thirteenth year the Chamber has acknowledged retiring educators for their valuable contribution to the lives of students in Cherokee County. The Chamber is pleased to partner with Enjoy Cherokee Magazine and WLJA 101.1 FM in this tribute to Cherokee County’s educators,” shared Chamber President & CEO Pam Carnes.

The mission of the Cherokee County Chamber, a Georgia Certified Chamber of Commerce, is to promote business and the community while expanding the economy and enhancing the quality of life. For more information on the Chamber and its programs, visit

High School Filmmakers Celebrate Excellence at 4th Annual Cherokee Student Film Festival

The Cherokee Office of Economic Development (COED), in partnership with the Cherokee County School District’s (CCSD) Audio/Video Technology and Film (AVTF) educators, recently announced the winners of the fourth annual Cherokee Student Film Festival as part of a live screening and awards presentation hosted at Sequoyah High School's Skip Pope Stadium on April 29, 2022, at 6:00 p.m.

Student films were screened on the Jumbotron as 175 audience members cheered on 19 groups of student filmmakers from across the county. 

The Cherokee Student Film Festival represents COED’s second collaboration with CCSD AVTF students this year. On March 10th, COED hosted the 3rd Annual Cherokee Student Film Summit at the YANMAR EVO//Center, featuring expert guidance from local and regional industry professionals. Through engaging hands-on breakout sessions, students were able to ask questions and connect with producers, directors, screenwriters, picture car coordinators, actors, showrunners, and film festival directors to explore careers in film.

“Our partnership with the Cherokee Office of Economic Development is making so many of our students’ dreams a reality through career experiences, and this film festival is a shining example,” Superintendent of Schools Dr. Brian V. Hightower said.  “Film industry professionals share expertise with our students and teachers at the annual summit and throughout the school year, which culminates in this fantastic event.  We look forward to seeing our graduates’ names on silver screens in the future, a dream more real thanks to this collaboration.”

AVTF Instructors collaborate with COED year-round to prepare for the summit and festival. “Being a part of the Cherokee Student Film Festival is like a big celebration with family,” said River Ridge High School AVTF Instructor Lin Woods.  "I have been so blessed to see my film kids grow in their film concepts and master diverse technical and cinematography skills. I look forward to celebrating the accomplishments of our film students beyond the classroom for years to come.”

With strict parameters designed to simulate production requirements, ten groups of students from across the county met criteria for judging. Qualifying submissions were judged by regional post-secondary film instructors Dr. Jay Hamilton (University of Georgia), Steven Hames (Berry College), Meredith Muse (Chattahoochee Technical College), Etowah Film Festival Founder Brent Lambert-Zaffino, and Media Producer Justin Webb.

Awards were issued based on the judges’ total scores in the following categories: Best Cinematography, Best Sound Quality, Best Use of Prop, Best Use of Line, and Best of Show. Festival attendees were able to cast votes in the Audience Choice category.

Sequoyah High School freshman Ava Roberts and team took “Best in Show” for their entry Secret Agent Annie Mills. "Having grown up doing on-camera acting, I was familiar with the set," said Roberts. "When I heard about the Cherokee Student Film Festival, I thought it would be a great opportunity to get behind the camera.”

The 9th grader, who also attended the Cherokee Student Film Summit earlier this year, said both opportunities helped shape her skills and interest in working behind the camera. "I know much more about how challenging it is to run a set. “I have so much respect for directors and producers and how much organization it takes to get everything together. It's really important to communicate well."

“Working alongside the CCSD to prepare students for successful careers in film has led to moviemaking magic,” said COED President Misti Martin. “Events like these are a powerful catalyst for students to launch successful careers within the film industry and make lifelong connections.” 



Secret Agent Annie Mills | Sequoyah High School Created by Justin Clark, Ava Roberts, Hailey Thompson, and Lauren Turnage

Runner Up Best of Show Only... | Creekview High School Created by Jackson Estapa, Chloe Feibus, Abram Midyette, and Maxton Williams

Third Place Best of Show Lucid Dream | Cherokee High School Created by Hunter Schwartz, Hunter Tadin, Felisa Vasquez, and Riley Watkins

Audience Choice Award (Qualifying Entry) Unconscious | Sequoyah High School Created by Andrew Kennedy, Tyler Sandt, and Gabe Squillace

Audience Choice Award (Participating Entry) I Miss You | Sequoyah High School Created by Donovan Victorino, Robyn Walker, and Ben Willison

Best Use of Prop Wanna Hear a Scary Story | Etowah High School Created by Sophia Berry, Marissa Migneco, and Kaili Phillips

Best Cinematography  Secret Agent Annie Mills | Sequoyah High School Created by Justin Clark, Ava Roberts, Hailey Thompson, and Lauren Turnage

Best Sound Quality Lucid Dream | Cherokee High School Created by Hunter Schwartz, Hunter Tadin, Felisa Vasquez, and Riley Watkins

Best Use of Line  Security Breach | Woodstock High School Created by Taylor Collins, Alex Manser, Riley McCall, and Brody Yot


To learn more about film in Cherokee, visit


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