HIAWASSEE, Ga. – On June 18, 2018, the Hiawassee Police Department stopped a 2003 Chevrolet Cavalier for operating without a license plate. Towns County Dispatch had also given a “lookout” for the vehicle after it had been reported as driving recklessly. A subsequent search of the vehicle lead
officers to locate approximately 77 grams of methamphetamine, syringes containing
methamphetamine, marijuana, drug related objects, and over $700.
The driver of the vehicle, Phillip Goss of Gainesville, Georgia, was arrested and charged with Trafficking
Methamphetamine, Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Related
Objects, and Operating an Unregistered Vehicle.
The passenger, Angelica Millwood of Gainesville, Georgia, was arrested and charged with Trafficking Methamphetamine, Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana, and Possession of Drug Related Objects
Both suspects are being held without bond at the Towns County Detention Center.
“This is the first drug trafficking arrest made in Hiawassee, and the largest amount of methamphetamine that we have seen,” Chief Paul Smith said, “These drugs came from Gainesville and were meant to be sold in this area. Stopping the distributors will do the most good for our community and our fight against drugs.”
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Hands-Free Georgia Act takes effect July 1, and local law enforcement plans to uphold the newly-enacted state mandate. The new law strictly prohibits drivers from holding a cellular phone or stand-alone electronic device in their hands, or touching any part of their body, while operating a vehicle on Georgia roadways. motorists will not be permitted to write, read, or send text messages nor emails, use social media, or otherwise access internet data. Drivers will be allowed use of GPS and navigational devices, however, via hands-free methods. While motorists will still be permitted to stream music through apps, the activation of such devices, changing of songs, or streaming any type of video is prohibited. In addition, recording or broadcasting videos also constitutes a violation of law. Mobile devices may be used in lawfully parked vehicles which does not include traffic signals or stop signs.
“Hiawassee Police Department will certainly be enforcing the hands-free law,” Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith told FetchYourNews, “It’s definitely an issue we’ve seen, and it’s a growing issue that we’ve been looking at.” Smith explained that the penalty for first-time citations includes a $50 fine, a one-point penalty against the driver’s license, and recommends the purchase of a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth device or a stationary mount for electronics, prior to an appearance in court in order to be found not guilty. Subsequent violations carry stiffer penalties.
“It’s becoming a habit we don’t think twice about since we have been talking on our phones while driving for more than three decades, and it is going to take time for all of us to stop automatically reaching for the phone when it rings,” Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Communication Director Robert Hydrick said, “If you want to talk on your phone or use GPS while driving, now is the time to implement those measures so hands-free will become the instinctive thing to do.”
Two-year studies revealed a 16 percent decrease in traffic fatalities within the 15 states that have already passed similar hands-free driving laws.
Additional information on the Hands-Free Georgia Act can be found at www.headsupgeorgia.com
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department mobilized traffic checkpoints at two separate locations on the evening of Wednesday, May 23, charging motorists with driving under the influence and drug-related offenses.
The initial checkpoint took place at approximately 8 p.m. in the vicinity of the Bell Creek Car Wash on state Route 75 north. According to the incident report, Hiawassee Police Department made contact with a grey Chevrolet Impala, occupied by three subjects. Upon interaction, the officer detected the odor of alcohol within the vehicle. The male driver consented to a preliminary breath test, which detects the presence of alcohol, and the breathalyzer registered 0.103 percent blood alcohol concentration. The maximum limit in Georgia to operate a motorized vehicle is .08 percent. The suspect then consented to standardized field sobriety testing, soon thereafter declining to participate. The driver was taken into custody by the officer. In addition, morphine pills were discovered in an unmarked bottle within the vehicle, and the suspect was charged with driving under the influence, drugs to be kept in original container, and creating hazardous or offensive conditions.
A subsequent checkpoint occurred on South Main Street, near Azalea Drive, at approximately 10 p.m. A female motorist was arrested and charged with driving under the influence, open container violation, and obstructing law enforcement officers. Several bottles of alcohol were discovered within the vehicle by Hiawassee officers after the odor of alcohol and marijuana was detected, providing officers with probable cause to conduct a search. According to the incident report, the female suspect proceeded to ingest “a green, leafy substance.” The subject denied possession of marijuana.
In other news, at a recent city council work session, Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith provided additional information on a significant drug arrest that took place within the city limits May 15, 2018. Federal and state charges resulted from the observation of the odor of marijuana noted by officers upon response to an unrelated panic alarm, originating from the AT&T store on Main Street. It was determined by responding officers that the odor wafted from an adjoining apartment, and a warrant to search the residence was obtained. Upon execution of the warrant, illicit substances, firearms, $700 in cash, and a postal scale were seized as evidence. Barry Hunter Collins was arrested and charged with multiple felonies, including a federal charge. Collins was an employee of the Blairsville postal service at the time of his arrest.
Chief Smith released the regularly-complied department activity report for the month of April, and while statistics continue to show a decrease in drug-related arrests – with only a single misdemeanor arrest for possession of under an ounce of marijuana and drug-related objects – the overall amount of issued citations increased in comparison to the previous month. A total of 115 citations were written in April, 35 of which were warnings. Data from March revealed a total of 79 citation, 21 being warnings. The highest amount of citations were the result of speeding, followed by tag registration and license requirements, safety belt violations, and brake lights or turn signal infractions.
Hiawassee Police Department conducted 237 calls for service in April, a combination of dispatched and self-initiated.
On Saturday, May 26, the Hiawassee Police Department held a child car seat safety check on Hiawassee Town Square. The event drew 20 participants, with 11 cars seats determined defective, and replaced at no charge.
[Feature photo: Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith displays the department’s former patch, while sporting the newly-acquired design, created by Smith]
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Animal control was the topic of spirited discussion at Mountain Movers & Shakers Friday, May 18, 2018.
Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith, and representatives from the Mountain Shelter Human Society spoke on the subject.
Many residents were unaware of how to handle stray or problematic animals in the area, and those in the know set out to clear the confusion.
A dangerous dog ordinance was in place when Commissioner Bradshaw was elected to office in 2016, with the issue recently being turned over to the Towns County Sheriff’s Office. Prior to 2018, the sheriff’s office was not actively involved and could only take reports. Commissioner Bradshaw said there have been two calls pertaining to the mandate this year.
“There’s a lot that needs to be talked about, and there’s always room for improvement. I realize this, as the county grows,” Commissioner Bradshaw began. “Where I live, it’s no problem. We’ve got elbow-room, my neighbors have elbow-room, and in most places in the county, that is the case, right? It is a fact. But there are neighborhoods, and pockets of neighborhoods that maybe you need some more animal control than what the county’s got. That’s entirely up to your homeowners association, and if you want to have stronger rules or regulations, or leash laws, then I would say go for it. But I’m going to tell you that where I live, I’m not going to tie up my dogs. I’m just not going to do it, but I’m a responsible dog owner, and that’s where the problem comes in.”
“As far as a leash law goes, I understand animal control,” Bradshaw continued. “I’ve talked to (Union County Commissioner) Lamar Paris about it. People say, ‘Union County has leash laws,’ and they do. I’ve read it. But a lot of times there’s just no teeth in it. I’m just going to be honest with you. What about barking? A dog barking all night, keeping the neighbors up? We’re still a small area, and I’ve had this happen twice. I called the neighbor with a barking dog, and I talked to them, and I asked them to help me. I said I need your help, and they did. We got it taken care of. I’m not saying everything we’re doing is perfect, but I’m saying much more than we are doing now, I don’t see it. In time, as the population grows, I can definitely see more ordinances, and leash laws, but I just don’t think the county is there yet. Your neighborhood may be, but the county as a whole is not.”
Sheriff Chris Clinton spoke on Title 4, a state law requiring the sheriff’s office to respond to animal complaints. Sheriff Clinton noted that it is a crime to abandon pets. Roaming livestock falls under the responsibility of the sheriff’s office as well.
“There is a leash law in the city,” Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith said. “It applies to city property. If you have a domestic animal on the sidewalk, the square, or Mayors’ Park – city property or city streets – then it’s supposed to be restrained. It doesn’t apply to personal property or your neighbor’s property, but it does apply to city streets. There’s also an ordinance that discusses loud noises, the barking and howling from animals. I’ll echo the commissioner’s sentiment from earlier. The best method is to call your neighbor and say your dog is annoying me. We can address it from an ordinance perspective if it’s something that goes on and on. As far as strays in general that don’t have an owner that we can contact, I think that’s something that the council and mayor will need to address.”
Mountain Humane Society Board President Bob Levy said that the shelter has improved considerably in recent years. “We have a facility, and our facility continuously grows, based on the donations that we get,” Levy said. “We adopt out a tremendous amount of animals every year. We try to take in every animal that we possibly can. It’s difficult for us to take in sick animals because it can affect the entire operation, but we do have a quarantine area.”
Mountain Shelter Humane Society is a no-kill shelter, and the organizations accepts as many well-disposition, healthy animals that are suitable for adoption as their facility can accommodate. “We are limited on our funds, but we are trying our best to take in animals with minor illness and injuries,” Lisa Collins, the executive director of the shelter explained.
According to Board President Bob Levy, an average of $200 to $500 is spent on each animal housed at Mountain Shelter.
Pit bulls, due to workman’s compensation and liability insurance, and feral cats, because of their wild nature and sparse adoption rate, are not accepted at the shelter.
While Mountain Shelter Humane Society cannot pick up animals, strays can be taken to their facility, provided space is available, at 129 Bowling Dr. in Blairsville.
Mountain Shelter Humane Society can be reached at 706-781-3843.
Bill and Lynn Hall, founders of Katz n Dawgs Helping Hands, a local 501(C)(3) non-profit animal rescue organization, provided contact information. Katz n Dawgs Helping Hands can be reached at 706-896-7931 or email@example.com.
FetchYourNews will include information on additional area resources should they become available.
In summary, the course of action is to contact Towns County Sheriff’s Office for issues related to animal aggression or general animal control. Towns County Sheriff’s Office can be contacted by dialing 911 or 706-896-4444.
In addition, Commissioner Bradshaw can be reached at 706-896-2267.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department responded to a panic alarm at a local business at approximately 5:15 p.m. on the evening of May 15, 2018. After investigating the alarm, officers questioned employees about a strong odor of marijuana observed upon entering the building. It was determined that the odor was originating from an adjoining apartment. A warrant for the apartment was obtained to search apartment, and the premise was secured.
During the execution of the search warrant, a large quantity of drugs were seized, including marijuana, methamphetamine, prescription narcotics, and steroids. The street value of the drugs were estimated at over $5,000 dollars. In addition, three weapons, U.S. currency, laptop computers, and numerous cellular phones were seized as evidence. Towns County Sheriff’s Office assisted Hiawassee Police Department during the execution of the search warrant.
Barry Hunter Collins was arrested and charged with the following:
- Possession of Methamphetamine;
- Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute;
- Possession of Marijuana;
- Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute;
- Four counts Violation of the Georgia Substance Control Act;
- Three counts Drugs to be Kept in Original Container;
- Two counts Possession of Drug-Related Objects; and
- Three counts Possession of Firearms during the Commission of a Crime.
Additional evidence discovered during the investigation was turned over to the United States Postal Service Office of Inspector General. Collins was charged with Obstruction of Mail by the Inspector General’s Office.
The suspect is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Union, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, and Murray counties, as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 on our Facebook page.
For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – On Tuesday, May 8, 2018 at approximately 3:15 p.m., Hiawassee Police Department Detective Brandon Barrett observed a subject known to have an active arrest warrant, driving eastbound on South Main Street. Detective Barrett was on patrol at the time the subject was spotted.
Detective Barrett and the Towns County Sheriff’s Office initiated a traffic stop near Chatuge Way.
After initially stopping for the officers, the driver of the vehicle made a U-turn, striking the front of Detective Barrett’s patrol vehicle.
The driver, Angela Michelle Capozzoli of Hiawassee, proceeded to flee westbound on South Main Street at a high rate of speed.
Hiawassee Police Department and Towns County Sheriff’s Office pursued the fleeing vehicle to Bugscuffle Road, where Capozzoli struck both patrol vehicles with her vehicle, disabling one.
Hiawassee Police Department continued to pursue Capozzoli to Bugscuffle Spur, where the subject turned onto a dirt road, unable to proceed in the occupied vehicle.
Capozzoli exited the vehicle, fleeing on foot into a heavily wooded area where officers lost contact .
At approximately 9:00 p.m., Capozzoli was located and apprehended after a short foot pursuit by Hiawassee Police Department Sergeant Tracy James and Officer John Carter.
“I am incredibly thankful that no one was injured during the pursuit,” Hiawassee Police Chief Chief Paul Smith said, “Acts of aggression towards law enforcement officers of this extreme are rare in Hiawassee, but obviously not impossible. Working together with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, we were able to apprehend and bring charges against Capozzoli.”
The Towns County Sheriff’s Office has obtained arrest warrants for Capozzoli. She has been charged with two-counts of Aggravated Assault Against a Law Enforcement Officer, Felony Fleeing and Attempting to Elude, Willful Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, and two-counts of Leaving the Scene of an Accident.
Capozzoli is presumed innocent until proven guilty.
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council met for their regular session May 1, 2018.
New hours of operation were set for Hiawassee City Hall, with doors open weekdays from 8:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales updated the public on Flicks on the Square, an outdoor, weekly movie night that is scheduled to begin after dark Friday, May 25.
(Correction: Showings have since been changed to twice per month rather than weekly.)
Referring to the associated cost of the project mentioned at last week’s work session, Ordiales explained her original quote was underestimated. “I had originally put down there $3,000. It’s really going to be $3,416 because the original quote of $2,899, the speakers were too small for that area. So when we upped the speakers a little bit, it was $3,416,” Ordiales explained.
Mayor Ordiales said that the “good news” is that she has learned Towns County Library owns licensing rights to many movies until March 2019, and plans to allow the city of Hiawassee to borrow their agreement at no charge.
“I’d like to see if we can have a classic movie night maybe once a month, with like Casablanca and that kind of stuff,” Ordiales said.
Councilwoman Amy Barrett suggested inviting non-profit organizations to sell popcorn. There will be no admission charge to attend movie nights on the square.
The motion to adopt Flicks on the Square was unanimously approved by the council.
A motion to streamline future consent agendas, with the financials and minutes consolidated into a single, swift vote, was motioned by Councilwoman Nancy Noblet, and seconded by Councilwoman Anne Mitchell. The idea was raised by Hiawassee City Clerk Bonnie Kendrick at the conclusion of April’s work session.
The ServLine water leak protection policy was adopted, motioned by Councilman Kris Berrong, and seconded by Councilwoman Nancy Noblet.
A motion to sign a formal contract with the current municipal court probation services was unanimously favored, and the first reading of the Hiawassee tree ordinance was approved.
“It basically says that we’ll have trees in Hiawassee, and that we’ll take care of them,” Ordiales noted at the previous work session.
An eligibility application with Georgia Surplus was unanimously approved.
“This is a contract that (Hiawassee Police Chief) Paul (Smith) found for us that will allow us to purchase items from the police department, the Army, the Navy, any type of government entity,” Ordiales said. “You can buy equipment for pennies on the dollar. When I was the president of the Fire Corps, we bought a Hummer for the Fire Corps, and they put a pump on the back of the Hummer that went into the woods, and all kinds of things like that, for 50 bucks. All we had to do was change the color. So, I brought this over here so that we can get this option. Maybe we can buy some tractors, or maybe we can buy some equipment for the water department.”
The second reading of the elected-official pay scale was approved, as well as the first reading of the benefit retirement plan. Ordiales says the new plan will freeze the policy that has been in place, in favor of 3 percent contribution from the city, zero percent from the employee. The previous plan garnered 11 percent from the city, and zero percent from the employee.
All council members were in attendance, with the exception of Patsy Owens.
Featured Photo: Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith provided information to the community and council during April’s city session.
“Last year in March, we had 17 drug arrests, 13 of those were felonies,” Chief Smith relayed, “This year we had two, one felony and one misdemeanor. Fantastic drop, and like I said before, it’s not like we’re not out there doing the work, there’s less of it to do. Other than that, our numbers are about the same, as far as the traffic stops and citations we’ve been writing.”
In fact, Hiawassee Police Department statistics show an increase in that particular area of activity. Data reveals that 282 reports have been written in the first-quarter of 2018, in comparison to 245 reports in 2017. Citations, incidents, and accidents are included in the report. Calls for service have also increased, jumping from 818 in the first-quarter of last year, to a total of 868 service calls in 2018.
Hiawassee Police Department recently obtained updated software for patrol vehicle computers, assisting officers in operating even more efficiently. The advanced program, equip with GPS capability, expedites the legal process for both citizens and law enforcement.
“We now have the ability to run tags and licenses on the car laptop. Prior to that, we would have to radio into dispatch every time we wanted to run information,” Smith explained.
The new software is capable of quickly providing officers with pertinent information, such as the owner of the vehicle, a driver’s license photograph, and whether the vehicle has valid insurance and proper registration.
“Before I get up to that car, I have an idea what I’m dealing with. It’s a safety feature, and it’s a convenience for us because we’re not having to run everything through dispatch,” Smith says, “Any time someone is driving on the road, we can check their tag to see if they have proper insurance, and their registration. In the past couple of weeks, just by checking random tags, we found two people with no insurance.”
In addition, Chief Smith announced a child car seat safety initiative, encouraged by Hiawassee Officer Jordan Guffey. Officer Guffey attended a 24-hour training course, acquiring certification in proper installation. In turn, the program has supplied four child car seats to the City of Hiawassee, which are available to parents in need.
Hiawassee Police Department will be on Town Square on Saturday, May 26, with additional car seats, free of charge. The department is offering to inspect or install the seats in vehicles in order to heighten the safety of children in the community.