HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Sunny Isles Beach City Manager Christopher Russo and Deputy City Manager Stan Morris made the trip from South Florida to Hiawassee on March 14, 2019 to present Chief Paul Smith and Mayor Liz Ordiales with a donated police vehicle. The Ford Explorer, which is fully equipped with lights and siren, was delivered to Hiawassee by a Sunny Isles Beach PD officer who made the trip two days earlier. Mr. Russo had learned of the need for updated and additional vehicles from articles in a publication and from Russo’s retired Police Chief, Fred Maas, who now resides in Towns County. The rest was due to the benevolence of the City Commission of Sunny Isles Beach, under the direction and approval of Mayor Bud Scholl.
Mr. Russo and Chief Maas are firm believers in helping brother law enforcement agencies in today’s crime prevention and community policing endeavors. Similar assistance was given this past Christmas season with Hiawassee’s Shop with a Hero program. Chief Maas and Chief Smith have met several times to discuss the issues facing law enforcement in Towns County. “Police work is environmental to the area in many cases, but it is also fundamentally similar in all areas as well. Whether it be narcotics issues, domestic violence issues, the opioid crisis, or traffic issues, all agencies face similar challenges,” Maas said. “So, we surely want to share what we can to assist the Chief and officers in their day to day efforts.”
In addition to the vehicle, Sunny Isle Beach donated six Pro Laser III LIDAR (light detection and ranging) speed detection devices. “All of our vehicles are equipped with RADAR speed detection devices,” Chief Smith advised. “However, the Pro Laser III is a handheld LIDAR device which will allow us to more easily target problem speeding areas to address the concerns of the public. Since we now have one more LIDAR unit than we can use, we will pay it forward and donate the extra to another local department. We are incredibly grateful to the City of Sunny Isles Beach for their generous donations.” Smith also expressed his gratitude to the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, who donated a prisoner partition from their surplus equipment, to be installed in the new vehicle.
Sunny Isles Beach is an oceanside community located on the north end of Miami Beach, Florida. The city council is known for their outstanding support of their police department, and by their actions via the donation of equipment to Hiawassee PD, have clearly shown their support of law enforcement efforts beyond South Florida.
Featured Photo: (L-R) Sgt. Plesa, Chief Snyder, Commissioner Lama, Vice Mayor Svechin, Mayor Scholl, Commissioner Goldman, Commissioner Viscarra, and Captain Grandinetti
(Photo courtesy of Sunny Isles Beach)
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FYN uncovered troubling new details leading to the Feb. 23 accident that left one man dead, two victims injured, and a 911 caller in need of trauma therapy.
On the evening of Terry Silvers’ fatal crash, an unresponsive be-on-the-lookout (BOLO) was issued by Towns County 911 to Towns County Sheriff’s Office. In the dispatched audio recently released by FYN, a siren can be heard passing a 911 caller who pursued Silvers’ vehicle into North Carolina, initiating an urgent call for law enforcement’s help.
FYN recently discovered that the same Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy who did not respond to the turned-fatal BOLO was the deputy who released Silvers the night before tragedy struck. Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Greg Joseph, also known as 112, bypassed the frantic 911 caller in order to respond to a possible prowler on Clark Drive in eastern Towns County. Deputy “112” released Silvers the previous night following an accident on Bugscuffle Road in Hiawassee.
FYN received inside information that Towns County Sheriff’s Office Deputy 116, Eddie Spradlin, the county officer heard chastising the 911 dispatcher for issuing the BOLO on the released tape, requested the specific assistance of Hiawassee Police Department in response to the possible prowler. Towns County Sheriff’s Office dual, on-duty deputies were assigned to eastern and western zones.
A Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy and Hiawassee Police Department officer were already on scene, actively clearing the residence, at the time the unanswered BOLO was issued for Silvers’ vehicle, prior to the deadly accident.
According to a local newspaper, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton stated that Deputy 112 Joseph was responding to provide back-up for the “only other deputy on duty,” referencing the possible prowler call as the reason that the BOLO was ignored. What Sheriff Clinton failed to mention was that not one, but two law enforcement officers were already on scene, securing the residence. “While we cannot possibly be there in time to prevent every tragedy, our deputies do a superb job of protecting our community with the resources available,” the sheriff is quoted as saying in the March 6 publication, “They perform their duties at the highest levels of professionalism, and they care deeply about our community and the safety of all citizens.”
While FYN remains strong advocates of law enforcement, FYN’s questions concerning the Silvers’ case remain unanswered by Towns County Sheriff’s Office.
On March 8, Sheriff Clinton published Deputy 112 Joseph’s body camera footage from Silvers’ Bugscuffle accident on the evening prior to the fatal crash. Despite testimonies from witnesses claimimg that Silvers’ was clearly in no condition to drive, Silvers was released without charges by Towns County Sheriff’s Office. As previously reported by FYN, multiple individuals have come forth to claim that Silvers was repeatedly released by Towns County Sheriff’s Office despite evident impairment following numerous accidents. In combination with widespread knowledge of Silvers’ opioid use, citizens are questioning why law enforcement failed to take a proactive role. In the published footage, Deputy 112 Joseph states that he has responded to accidents involving Silvers in the past while the tow truck operator on scene later questions Silvers’ sobriety. “Mr. Silvers, how many wrecks you going to have on this road?” the deputy asked. Silvers was administered an alcohol sensor and horizonal gaze nystagmus (HGN) test, and released without charges the night prior to his death.
FYN discovered that Silvers was arrested in May 2008, by Hiawassee Police Department for driving under the influence of opioids. According to the arrest report, former Hiawassee Chief Jimmy Wright performed a HGN test which Silvers failed. In the report, the late chief stated that Silvers exhibited evident disorientation and slurred speech.
In a social media post attached to the body camera footage, Sheriff Clinton stated in relation to the unresponsive BOLO that never was “a judgement call made by anyone employed by, supervised by, or otherwise under the control or responsibility of the Sheriff of Towns County.” Clinton seemingly shifted blame to Towns County 911, causing online outrage in response.
An administrator with Towns County Sheriff’s Office added comments concerning the department’s need for back-up without acknowledging the fact that a Hiawassee Police Department officer was on scene. In addition, the sheriff’s administrator provided an informational link in a seeming attempt to disassociate the sheriff’s office from Towns County 911. UPDATE: Following the release of this article, the sheriff’s administrator deleted comments made.
In accordance with state law, FYN filed a simple, open records request with Towns County Sheriff’s Office March 6 for the written report on the prowler incident. Towns County Sheriff’s Office replied that due to increased prisioner transport to the courthouse, the department’s road patrol lieutenant and captain had not yet approved the report, and that it will not be available for release until as late as March 15.
Georgia’s Open Records Act allows a maximum of 72 hours for delivery of public records, or a viable reason as to why they cannot be produced.
Towns County Sheriff’s Office has not responded to FYN’s requests for comment on Silvers’ case.
WSB-TV and 11 Alive news in Atlanta have taken interest in FYN’s investigation.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith warned citizens last week at City Hall’s work session of another telephone scam making the rounds. Chief Smith said that he received a phone call from a Blairsville resident, asking if the city police department had called earlier to solicit donations for a fallen officer fund. Smith said that the solicitor claimed to be an officer with the Hiawassee Police Department.
“Please be cautious of all phone calls from unknown individuals. Phone numbers can be spoofed so it will look like you are receiving a call from a legitimate source,” Chief Smith cautioned. “Don’t give out any information on a phone call that you did not initiate. If someone calls you claiming to be with an organization you are familiar with, hang up and call the organization back on a known phone number.”
Smith stated that Hiawassee Police Department never initiates phone calls to raise funds.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith is asking for the public’s assistance in fostering a program proven to save lives. Georgia’s Yellow Dot program offers an envelope packet to citizens over the age of 55, free of charge, for residents to list basic information that may be critical for first responders in the event of a medical emergency,
The Yellow Dot program is a partnership between the Georgia Department of Public Health and Georgia Department of Human Services Division of Aging Services. The program will initially supply 1500 packets, in increments of 500, to the City of Hiawassee for if the community shows increasing interest in the initiative.
Chief Smith is asking for local businesses, civic organizations, and area churches to partner with Hiawassee Police Department in the life-saving project. While the amount of envelopes offered may seem like enough to provide for seniors, Smith explained that it is recommended that residents place one packet in their home, and another in the glove box of their vehicle.
The packet includes a form to add important information, such as medical conditions, medications, and emergency contacts. A bright, yellow sticker is included to affix to the outside of homes and vehicles to alert first responders that the information is available.
Community members interested in partnering with the Hiawassee Police Department can receive additional information from Hiawassee City Hall.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Two suspects were arrested after Hiawasse Police Department stopped a white Chevrolet pickup on Highway 76, Wednesday, Feb. 20, within the city limits.
The traffic stop led Hiawassee Police Department to request the assistance of a Towns County Sheriff’s Office investigator. Upon completion of the initial investigation, a quantity of illegal drugs and firearms were discovered in the vehicle.
Towns County Sheriff’s Office secured warrants and arrested two suspects on felony drug charges.
The occupants of the vehicle were taken into custody at the scene and charged with the following offenses:
Jake Scott Davies, 41, of Hayesville, NC
– One Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substances Act -(Possession of Methamphetamine)
– Four Counts of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon
Timothy Jeffery McCoy, 39, of Marble, NC
– One Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act -(Possession of Methamphetamine)
“The Sheriff’s Office looks forward to continuing the partnership and teamwork between the Sheriff’s Office and Police Department in combatting the illegal activity within the Towns County community,” Towns County Sheriff’s Office stated.
Fetch Your News is a local now-news outlet, attracting more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Clay and Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, reaching between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith presented the department’s 2018 activity statistics during the first city council meeting of the new year, Jan. 28.
In 2018, 1,142 traffic stops were conducted by Hiawassee Police Department, with the most activity occurring in July. Smith relayed that the summer spike was due to the Hands-Free Georgia Act. As a result of the traffic stops, 681 tickets were issued, 362 written warnings were given, and hundreds of verbal warnings were extended.
Last year, the city police department made 118 arrests, 21 of which were misdemeanor drug violations, and 16 were cited as felony drug offenses. The remainder of the arrests amounted to 11 felonies and 70 misdemeanors. According to data, there were 98 fewer arrests made in 2018 than in 2017. Likewise, fewer drug arrests occurred in 2018 than the prior year. Of the 118 arrests, Smith informed that 80 of the arrests were the result of traffic stops, accounting for half of felony arrests.
A total of 335 reports were filed in 2018, consisting of 205 incident reports, 87 accident reports, 32 miscellaneous reports, five domestic violence cases, and two juvenile reports.
While the statistics show that criminal activity has decreased, Hiawassee Police Department remains vigilant in their duties, a reasonable explaination as to why there has been a reduction in arrests. “It’s good to see numbers drop in law enforcement,” Chief Smith said.
(Graphics courtesy of Hiawassee Police Department)
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet, attracting more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Towns, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, and Murray counties, as well as Clay and Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week, reaching 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. – A traffic stop conducted by Hiawassee Police Department led to yet another drug arrest during the afternoon hours of Saturday, Dec. 8, near the intersection of Main Street and Bell Creek Road.
Amanda Aveline Wheeler, 39, of Hiawassee, was arrested and charged with the following offenses:
16-13-30 DRUGS- METHAMPHETAMINE POSSESSION OF
16-13-30 DRUGS- METHAMPHETAMINE SALE/DELIVER/DISTRIBUTE
16-13-30 DRUGS- MARIJUANA POSSESSION LESS THAN 1 OUNCE
16-13-30H POSSESSION OF SCHEDULE IV DRUGS
16-13-32.2 POSSESSION AND USE OF DRUG RELATED OBJECTS
A probable cause search was conducted due to an odor of marijuana wafting from the the interior of the vehicle. According to the Hiawassee Police Department, Wheeler offered that a quantity of marijuana was, in fact, present within the glove box of the vehicle, prior to the execution of the search.
“I started the search by opening the glove compartment. Once open, I located a small plastic bag that contained a quantity of marijuana that had a total weight of less than one ounce,” the arresting officer wrote in a report requested and obtained by FYN, “I then continued the search and in the back seat, there was a bag that contained Ms. Wheeler’s personal items. Inside the bag, I located a small black case that contained two plastic bags with methamphetamine, a clear plastic case with methamphetamine, a set of digital scales, and a plastic bag with several empty red plastic bags.”
In addition, Wheeler allegedly possessed a loose benzodiazepine pill, and had an outstanding warrant from Clay County, North Carolina.
Wheeler was transported to the Towns County Detention Center, and faces criminal prosecution.
Wheeler is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Disadvantaged children will have a reason to smile this holiday season, thanks to the generousity of Smokies GT, a non-profit club of Porsche owners that raises funds for worthy charities.
The organization hosts a local event each spring to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, and graciously extended $5000 of their good-will to the Shop with a Hero program.
Hiawassee Police Department heads the annual initiative, pairing first responders with area children to travel and purchase Christmas gifts, while providing a positive mentoring experience.
Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith expressed deep gratitude for the donation from Smokies GT, as well as to others who have contributed to the cause, for the added ability to bring deserved cheer to underpriviledged children.
A founder of Smokies GT provided background information on the charitable club.
“We have an annual event in Hiawassee along with smaller events throughout the year. The focus is on enjoying these great cars in ways for which they were built, on the track, and on mountain roads. At the spring event, we enhance our passion of driving by also raising funds for charitable causes. One of our members has two children with Cystic Fibrosis- so a great deal of focus is for us to raise money for the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation,” the spokesperson, who asked to remain anonymous, relayed, “Hiawassee has always been so welcoming to our group so we would love to find more ways to give back to the community.
“The Smokies group was started “by accident” by a few Porsche GT3 owners who simply wanted to go for a mountain drive. The drive got bigger and bigger, turned into a weekend and we are now in our sixth year,” the representative continued, “The group has grown to over 400 GT owners from all over the US and some from Canada. There will be over 100 Porsche GT’s at this year’s event in Hiawassee, coming from as far as Seattle.
“Our group is informal, a family, and brings together like-minded individuals, many of whom have become lifelong friends through the event. As part of the 2019 event, we will do a track day at Road Atlanta, Mountain Drives in GA / TN / NC and will rent Heaven’s landing airstrip where we take CF patients and underprivileged kids for the ride of their life down an open runway in a Porsche GT! Over the past few years, our group has raised over $500,000 for charity and we expect to double that amount to a total of close to $1,000,000 in 2019.”
For additional information on Smokies GT, visit their website.