Arrest Report - Monday - March 25, 2019
Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office.
Chattooga County 2018 Audit Shows County In Dire Financial Straits
Recently, Chattooga County Sole Commissioner Jason Winters told the local newspaper that he may have to look at cutting jobs in order to get the county’s finances in shape. The county’s 2017 financial audit backs up the Commissioner’s fears about the future.
In March of 2018, the Rome News Tribune ran an article entitled: “Commissioner proclaims Chattooga County is in better shape than ten years ago”, but reviews of the county’s finances show a deteriorating condition that dates back several years. The county’s audits are not available online, but WZQZ News has obtained a copy of the audits from the past several years which show that the county continues to spend more than the revenue it takes in; this despite a huge property tax increase at the beginning of the commissioner’s current term.
In the 2017 Chattooga County audit, the county had a negative General Fund balance of -$463,127. That would appear slightly better than the 2016 General Fund balance of -$552,936, except for the fact that the county took in more revenue in 2017 due to the tax increase. In all, the county brought in $10.2 million in revenue in 2017, with 86% of those funds being from property taxes. In all, the reported expenses for 2017 were $9.3 million. That should have netted the county an approximate $800,000 profit. However nearly all of the $800,00 was transferred to the capital project funds along with other funds, which would indicate that the county was already short on funds in those accounts.
The bulk of the county’s income comes in December with the collection of property taxes (86% of the county’s revenue). It’s the same for the Board of Education and other governments. However, unlike the Chattooga Board of Education, which has around $5 million in reserves, the county has no reserve funds. If the county’s finances were improving, the county could have taken the $800,000 over expenses and put that in savings to help weather the lean months. Instead, the county has to rely on Tax Anticipation Notes, or TAN notes to make payroll throughout the year.
The 2018 audit report for the county government will not be ready until mid-summer. You can view the most recent audit by clicking on the link below. (PDF reader required to view.)
Georgia Farm Bureau Advising On Hemp Production
The passage of the 2018 Farm Bill opened the door for states to re-introduce commercial hemp production. While a small handful of states have undertaken this, Georgia stepped up this year to develop procedures and regulations allowing this new commodity’s production.
A spokesperson for the Georgia Farm Bureau says, “We aren’t sure how lucrative hemp production will be, but Farm Bureau supports the exploration for new products.”
The bill that establishes clear parameters for hemp production, HB 213, has been through rigorous debate and changes. There are many perspectives to consider in its development including trade, market expectations, law enforcement, regulatory compliance, and flexibility for farmers. HB 213 has continuously evolved considering the needs of impacted parties, and was favorably reported by Senate Ag Committee on Tuesday. The Georgia Farm Bureau says that they expect the bill to move to the Senate floor next week for a vote before returning to the House for final approval.
If you are interested in hemp uses, production, and harvesting methods, Farm Bureau Public Policy staff has created a document providing a brief overview of the commodity, which can be found here.
Georgia Farm Bureau Legislative Report
Turner Says "I Just Don't Like Bullies"
After saying that he would quit the Board of Education, Board Member John Turner made a decision to stay last week. All of the controversy stemmed from the Board of Education refusing to talk about an item that Mr. Turner had placed on the agenda at the last meeting. At that meeting, Mr. Turner said that he could not be effective working with the current board and announced his resignation.
In the subsequent days, Mr. Turner says that he received overwhelming support from the community, urging him to stay on. Turner said that he would continue to serve on the Board of Education, but questions how effective he can be, since he is outnumbered four-to-one.
Turner told the Chattanooga Times-Free Press last week, “I’ll be, I’m pretty sure, just a quiet observer, but at least I’ll be there….and really, I just don’t like bullies” – referring to the way the other board members removed the discussion of a four-day school week from the agenda.
Turner is the only four-day school week, and the only Democrat on the board of education.
City Council Called Meeting This Evening
The City of Summerville will hold a special called meeting coming up this evening at the Summerville Recreation Center. The meeting will take place at 5 PM. You can see the agenda for tonight’s meeting below:
Floyd County Man Dies From Injuries From Collision With A Duck
A Floyd County man died over the weekend after a freak accident on Weiss Lake in Cherokee County, Alabama almost two weeks ago.
According to the Cherokee County Coroner, Dr. Jeremy Deaton, sixty-six-year-old Wendell Dean Crowe, Jr. of Rome was fishing on Weiss Lake when a duck, that was flying low, struck Mr. Crowe in the head. He was taken to the hospital in Rome and died on Saturday from the head injury caused by the duck.
Probate Court Sponsoring Spring Food Drive
The Chattooga County Department of Family and Children Services is in desperate need of food for their food bank. Their food bank is open 24/7 for families who need food at any given moment. The Chattooga County Probate Judge’s Office is sponsoring a “Spring Food Drive” to help fill up the shelves of the local food pantry. According to the Probate Office, “We want to, once again, help them with one of the largest food drives ever! Help us fill up the shelves!” The Food Drive will be held during the month of April (April 1 -30) and there will be a donation box set up at the Chattooga County Courthouse, just inside the door so donors don’t have to go through security. You can find more information below:
The items needed most are:
Canned vegetables, fruit, pasta, soups, stews, chili
Canned meats – tuna, chicken, spam, salmon
Baby food, apple sauce – in squeeze packets
Cereals, oats, rice
Dry beans, dried fruit
Pasta, canned sauce
Macaroni and Cheese
Peanut butter, jelly (in plastic bottles)
Dry or shelf-stable milks
Chicken, beef, or vegetable broths and stock
Instant potatoes, jell-o, puddings
Biscuit mix, pancake mix, syrup
Salt and pepper
• Canned goods with pop-top lids are better than canned goods that require a can opener.
• Avoid foods packaged in glass.
• Do not donate foods that are past the expiration date.
• Consider donating reusable sturdy shopping bags.
Donations of food or money will be greatly appreciated! There will be a donation box set up just inside the door of the courthouse so that you don’t have to go through security.
**For more information or for questions please call Becky Duke or Teresa Pope at Probate Court at 706-857-0709.**
Arrest Report - Sunday - March 24, 2019
Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office.
Roberty Dickey Named Georgia "Farmer Of The Year"
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp presented the 2019 Georgia Farmer of the Year award to Crawford County farmer Robert Dickey during a reception held Tuesday, March 19, at the Georgia Freight Depot in Atlanta. Pictured left to right are Kemp, Dickey, Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black and UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences Dean Sam Pardue.
Crawford County peach farmer Robert Dickey has been named the 2019 Georgia Farmer of the Year.
A fourth-generation farmer, Dickey manages approximately 1,000 acres of peaches and 3,000 acres of timberland with the help of his 90-year-old father, Bob Dickey, his wife, Cynde Dickey, and their son and daughter-in-law, Lee and Stacy Dickey.
After high school, Dickey’s father encouraged him to pursue a business degree, so Dickey enrolled at the University of Georgia, graduating in 1976 with his bachelor’s degree. However, banking jobs were scarce, so Dickey returned to the farm with a new perspective.
“Although I had worked on the farm through my high school and college years, I did not fully appreciate the value and significance of my family’s heritage until I came back full-time,” Dickey said. “There are no words to fully express the feeling of working alongside my father on the land my great-grandfather, and namesake, initially planted in peach trees in 1897.”
Dickey has made many changes on the farm while honoring his family’s farm history.
When he noticed other peach farmers were planting more acres, and Dickey Farms’ production volume left the farm’s packinghouse sitting underutilized during the season, Dickey began to offer packing services to meet other local farmers’ packing needs and to generate additional income.
“When I first started working at the farm, we were packing about 75,000 packages a year,” he said. “This year, we expect to pack around 400,000 half-bushel boxes.”
To deal with drought conditions, Dickey invested in irrigation equipment and added lakes, wells and piping which “helped immensely,” he said.
Over the past 10 years, the farm transitioned to low-volume drip irrigation from high-volume reels of irrigation hose to increase efficiency and lower the farm’s water and energy use. Peach yields are up and disease pressure is low.
The peach trees are still planted in traditional rows, but the areas between the rows are intentionally maintained in sod. This environmentally friendly practice prevents soil erosion, provides traction for farm equipment, adds organic matter to the soil, improves soil moisture and provides habitat for beneficial insects.
Following recommendations from the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Environmental Quality Incentives Program (EQIP), Dickey reduces scale on his peach trees by using oil instead of a chemical treatment. The farm engages in crop rotations with a local row crop farmer to improve soil fertility and structure and reduce compaction.
Dickey manages the family’s timberland with the help of a registered forester and the Georgia Forestry Commission, and they continue to plant new and improved second- and third-generation loblolly pine seedlings.
“Dickey Farms is deliberate in our planting of wildlife habitats,” Dickey said. “Although we don’t want deer and other animals in our (orchards), we welcome wildlife in our forests and timber areas. Hunting and fishing leases are an important part of our farm.”
The farm business recycles all of its cardboard, newspapers, plastic and glass through the local recycling center and makes a point to also recycle all pesticide containers, oil and tires.
Dickey’s father continues to be a part of the farm business. “He’s the farm’s biggest cheerleader, encourager and mentor for both me and my son,” Dickey said. “His memory is amazing, and he has witnessed some of the biggest changes in the industry.”
Dickey has taken the farm into new areas with ideas from his children and insight from his wife, Cynde Dickey, the farm’s chief financial officer. She was instrumental in starting the farm’s retail business and mail-order operation, which began 25 years ago.
“She realized how much friends and families who no longer live in Georgia would love to have our juicy Georgia peaches arrive at their doorstep,” Dickey said. “Our retail operation has increased dramatically over the last five years as customers realize the value of purchasing their peaches and produce straight from the grower. The sales are steadily increasing in our non-peach production months and our ice cream is famous in these parts.”
Dickey’s peach crop is marketed through the Genuine Georgia Group, a sales and marketing team with an interest and deep roots in the peach business.
“This gives them a deeper understanding of production, quality, harvesting and marketing concerns,” Dickey said. “We want our peaches to be known as Georgia peaches — the sweetest peaches in the country.”
Daughter-in-law Stacy Dickey promotes the farm’s market through social media, employee training and advertising. The Dickeys’ daughter, Marjie, a 2013 graduate of the UGA College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences, develops new recipes for the farm’s bakery. School groups often visit the farm for educational field trips, which are now in high demand.
Son Lee Dickey manages the farm’s food-safety program and the installation of new peach trees and new crops, like 100 acres of pecans and 2 acres of strawberries. The farm plans to expand its vegetable acreage to meet the local school system’s demand for Georgia-grown produce.
“When Crawford County lost its only grocery store in December 2016, Dickey Farms stepped up and provided fresh produce in season to meet the county’s needs,” said Sarah Greer, the UGA Cooperative Extension Agricultural and Natural Resources agent in Crawford County.
Greer nominated Dickey and his farm for the Farmer of the Year award.
“Dickey Farms exemplifies all that it means to be a steward of the land. They are innovative and progressive,” she said. “Not only are they an amazing farm that has persisted over generations, but they are outstanding community members.”
In addition to his work on the farm, Dickey is serving his fourth term in the Georgia House of Representatives for District 140, which covers Crawford County and parts of Bibb, Houston, Monroe and Peach counties. He represents his fellow farmers on the House Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee.
He is also a board member and past president of the Georgia Peach Council, has served as president and treasurer of the National Peach Council and is a member of the Georgia Agricultural Commodity Commission for Peaches and the Georgia Agribusiness Council.
Dickey will now compete against farmers from Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia for the Swisher Sweets/Sunbelt Expo Southeastern Farmer of the Year Award.
Commissioner Says Roads To Be Repaved
Chattooga County Sole Commissioner Jason Winters says that some roads are going to get repaved this year. The commissioner released a list of the roads to be repaved to The Summerville News this week.
The county will use $162,000 in sales tax funds to help pay for the paving. The Georgia Department of Transportation will pay the remaining cost –$603,400. It’s part of the DOT’s Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) program.
The roads scheduled for repaving include:
* Farmersville Road, Subligna: It’s a 1.5 mile stretch of road from the bridge to Bethel Church Road.
* Shields Road, Gore: It’s a .8 mile stretch from the bridge to Gore-Subligna Road.
* Unity Church Road, Gore: It’s 1.1 miles of section from Packer Dairy Road to U.S. 27.
* Rowell Road, Summerville: It’s .8 miles from Hwy. 114 to the dead end.
* Oak Hill Road, Lyerly: It’s 1.6 miles of pavement from Josh Ward Road to Owens Dairy Road.
* Reservoir Road, Summerville: It’s .3 miles of road from Back Berryton Road to the dead end.
* Ridgeway Road, Trion: It’s 1.2 miles from Old Hwy. 27 to Old Justice Road.
* Dry Creek Road, Subligna: It’s three miles of paving from East Armuchee Road to the bridge.
* Back Valley Road, Lyerly: It’s 2.2 miles of paving from Oak Hill Road to Ragland Road.
* North Elizabeth Street, Summerville: It’s .2 miles of paving from Farrar Drive to the dead end.
* North Hill Street, Summerville: It’s .2 miles of paving from North Elizabeth Street to Ellen Street.
* River Road, Lyerly: It’s .2 miles of paving from Oak Hill Road to the dead end.
Plane Crash In Gordon County On Saturday
At about 3:40 PM Saturday, deputy sheriffs were dispatched to the area of Spencer Drive south of Calhoun in response to a report of a small aircraft crash. Deputies arrived to find that a small plane had crashed into a wooded area within a few hundred yards of a residential neighborhood.
The plane was completely destroyed. The crash resulted in a fatality. Fire and Rescue and other emergency personnel also responded. The scene has been secured and the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) has been notified.
A preliminary investigation in conjunction with the Coroner’s Office is underway. Identification of the victim is being withheld pending notification of the next of kin. Gordon County Sheriff Mitch Ralston said, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the family of the victim of this tragic accident.”
General Assembly Approves "Direct Primary Care Act"
The Georgia House passed Senate Bill 18, or the “Direct Primary Care Act,” which would give Georgians the option to keep health care directly between the patient and a doctor without requiring insurance.
State Representative Eddie Lumsden (R-Armuchee) says that the Direct Primary Care Act would provide an alternative approach to affordable health care by allowing primary care providers to provide health care to a patient through a direct primary care agreement. This would allow patients to pay a monthly fee to a participating physician in order to receive care, and the agreement would not be considered insurance and therefore, would not be subject to state insurance laws or insurance billing.
Under the Direct Primary Care Act, a physician that is offering, marketing, selling or entering into a direct primary care agreement would not need a certificate of authority or license other than maintaining a current license to practice medicine in Georgia. The payment agreements would include a 30-day notice for either the patient or the doctor if either party chooses to terminate the contract.
Lastly, this measure would allow physicians providing health care services under a direct primary care agreement the right to decline a patient if the physician is unable to provide the appropriate level and type of health care services the patient needs. Senate Bill 18 would provide citizens with an alternative avenue towards efficient and affordable health care by removing the unnecessary red tape, according to Rep. Lumsden.
Turkey Season Open In Georgia
Statewide turkey season opened yesterday in Georgia. The 2019 turkey hunting season should be a fair season, similar to 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.
The DNR says that turkey reproduction was lower than average in 2017, so that could mean a lower than usual supply of 2 year-old gobblers across much of the state in 2019. However, that lower average comes between two better years, so hopefully other age classes will remain plentiful. With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from now through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).
Georgia Game Check: All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.
Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land. Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661. With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.
Summerville City Council Meeting Tomorrow
The City of Summerville will have a called council meeting tomorrow evening. The meeting will be held at the Summerville Recreation Center and gets underway at 7 PM. The council is expected to discuss the proposed tethering ordinance, and there are a few other items on the agenda.
The council is expected to approve the appointment of Connie Howard to the Downtown Development Authority. The council is also expected to discuss the annual “spring clean-up week” and will discuss when the event will be scheduled for city residents.
Tomorrow evening’s called city council meeting is open to the public.
Dixie Color Continues Work On Trion Plant
Dixie Color, a color resin pellets manufacturing company, is investing more than $19 million in a new Dixie Specialty Fibers facility in Trion. Work continues on the plant in the Trion Industrial Park located just off Highway 27.
Dixie Color was started by Will Dendy and Lee Starks in 2009.
The newly formed Dixie Specialty Fibers will support the growing demands of the fine denier microfiber market. The company specializes in single pigment dispersions, custom color masterbatches and plastic compounding.’
Trion Mayor Larry Stansell said, “We are excited that they will be the anchor tenant in our industrial park and look forward to the new opportunities that their expansion will create for the town, the county, and the region as a whole.'”
The Trion expansion will support the development of a new product line of polyethylene terephthalate microfiber for use in bath mats, area rugs and carpet.
UGA Fraternity Suspended
A University of Georgia fraternity has been suspended after a video appearing to show some of its members using a racial slur and mocking slavery went viral on social media.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports, that the video appears to show one student playfully hitting another with a belt while telling him to “Pick my cotton” and using a racial slur. Further details behind the content of the video have not been reported at this time.
In a letter to the student body, UGA’s Student Government Association said Friday evening it was aware of the video being circulated online and that the school’s fraternity chapter has been suspended amid an investigation into the students involved.
The University of Georgia released a statement about the incident. “The University of Georgia condemns racism in the strongest terms. Racism has no place on our campus. We will continue our efforts to promote a welcoming and supportive learning environment for our students, faculty and staff.
The fraternity has been suspended by its national organization.
City of Summerville Called Meeting
The City of Summerville has called a council meeting for Monday. The meeting will be held at 5 PM at the Summerville Recreation Center.
The council will be taking up discussion on a tethering ordinance at the meeting. At the last council meeting, the council heard from several members of the public who expressed support for a “no-tethering” ordinance.
Summerville City Councilman Joe Money introduced the idea to the council and the city attorney has drawn up a proposed ordinance. Council members discussed the proposed ordinance at the last meeting. Most of the discussion about the ordinance deals with the issue of “limited-tethering” vs. “no-tethering.” Summerville Mayor Harry Harvey has indicated that he thinks a “limited-tethering” ordinance should be adopted, with Councilman Money preferring a “no-tethering” ordinance.”
The meeting is open to the public.
Georgia Steeplechase Canceled For 2019
The Georgia Steeple Chase scheduled for this year has been canceled due to a lack of corporate sponsors, according to the events organizers.
The Georgia Steeple Chase Race Meet & Spring Social on April 6, 2019, was canceled by the organizers who issued this statement:
“It’s with a heavy heart, that the Georgia Steeplechase Board of Directors has announced that the April 6th, 2019 race meet has been canceled. Unfortunately, due to competing with Spring Break it has proven difficult this year to raise the $100,000 for the purse from corporate sponsors. We consulted with the National Steeplechase Association (NSA) to see if there was a possibility to reschedule to another date this Spring or Fall, but unfortunately, they gave us no option. We will be issuing refunds to everyone that has purchased tickets either by credit card or check. Our apologies for any inconvenience.”
Domestic Dispute Leads To Physical Altercation
Summerville Police were called to an ongoing domestic dispute on Highland Avenue after it was reported that a father and his son were involved in an altercation.
When police arrived they spoke with the wife of the homeowner who told police that she had broken up the physical altercation, but police could hear that a verbal altercation was still going on. When police entered the residence they found the father and son still arguing about rent. According to the police report, the son was asked to pay $75 a week rent, but had decided that he was only going to pay $50. The father was not happy with that arrangement and after arguing a while, punched the son in the lip. The son returned the punch and it was then that the mother stepped in to break up the physical fight.
Both men were on probation, so neither wanted to press charges.
Missing Gaylesville Man Found In Rome
A Cherokee County, Alabama man Reported Missing Friday Morning Has Been Found Safe.
Emergency personnel initiated a search for a missing person in the area of County Road 89, between Blanche and Watson’s Crossroads during the early morning hours of Friday. A caller reported they had awoken to find that the door was open, and the 61 year old male subject in the home, George Edward Hall, Sr., who suffers with dementia – was gone.
The call went out around 5:40am and at that point it appeared the subject had already been gone for a short period of time. He was reportedly last seen wearing blue jeans and either a plaid shirt or blue denim shirt. Additional manpower was called in to help with the search a short time later.
Around 10:30am, Hall was confirmed to have been found safe and sound at a Waffle House Restaurant in Rome, Georgia and a Cherokee County Sheriff’s Office official was dispatched to the location to bring Hall home.
It’s unclear at this point how he traveled from his home on County Road 89 to Floyd County, Georgia.