HIAWASSEE, Ga. – On Tuesday, Aug. 7, Towns County Sheriff’s deputies, along with an officer from the Hiawassee Police Department, responded to the Lakeview store on Highway 76 East in Hiawassee, in reference to a subject who was loitering on the property.
Upon arriving on the scene, the officers located the subject whom the compliant was received about, still on the store property.
Upon further investigation, the subject identified as Carey Edward Kendall, 37, of Hiawassee.
Kendall was arrested and charged with One Count of Obstruction of a Law Enforcement Officer, and One Count of Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Methamphetamine.
The case will be forwarded to the Enotah Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.
Suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – What might appear to some as a seemingly innocent incident led to the arrest of two North Carolina men, charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of a Drug Related Object, thanks to the work of an observant law enforcement officer.
On the evening of Monday, Aug. 6, a Hiawassee Police Department patrol officer was in the parking lot of a local business when the officer was approached by two white males in a white Ford F250, requesting directions. The officer advised the driver that an incoming call for service needed to be addressed, but if the individuals wished to wait, the officer would return shortly to assist in the matter.
According to the detailed incident report, the officer returned soon thereafter to where the men were awaiting directions, when the driver claimed that they had traveled from Cherokee, North Carolina, in search of a gated campground in the area.
As the driver was speaking, the Hiawassee officer observed that the man was “sweating profusely,” that his eyes appeared “extremely dialated,” in addition to “talking very rapidly.”
The officer asked the driver to exit the vehicle. Upon questioning the driver’s condition, the driver said that he had been in a motorcycle accident, and was currently on “Roxy 10’s,” a prescription pain medication, stating that he had taken the opioid an hour and a half prior to contact with the police department.
The driver was identified as Austin Cody Fuller, 20, of Cherokee, NC, and the passenger as Ronald David Warren, 42, of Bryson City, NC.
Upon requesting assistance from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, the Hiawassee Police Department officer requested that Warren exit the vehicle. After speaking with the individuals and suspecting illicit activity, the officer requested permission to search the vehicle. According to the incident report, Fuller stated, “I don’t care,” along with “It doesn’t bother me.”
Once consent to search was granted, law enforcement officers located a glass smoking device containing methamphetamine, in addition to two additional baggies of methamphetamine, one within the vehicle, the other inside of the Warren’s pocket, following his arrest.
Allen and Fuller were transported to the Towns County Detention Center.
Both suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Today, August 1, marks the one-year anniversary of the appointment of Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith, and FYN sat down with the law enforcement official to discuss his year-long journey.
Chief Smith began his law enforcement career in Cobb County, Georgia, serving as an officer for three years prior to transferring to the Towns County Sheriff’s Office in 2009. Smith attended Towns County Comprehensive, Young Harris College, Kennesaw State University, and Cobb County Department of Public Safety, and has been with the Hiawassee Police Department since 2010. Smith accepted an assignment as acting police chief of the agency five months prior to his official appointment on August 1, 2017.
Chief Smith shared that an affinity for community service spurred his decision to enter law enforcement.
“I grew up a community orientated family, doing litter clean-up together and things like that,” Smith said, “I had been in Boy Scouts from a young age, was an Eagle Scout, and began considering law enforcement in high school. Giving to the community, it had been a memorable part of my life, and becoming an officer was an extension that I could build on.”
The Hiawassee native says his goals for the department include “continuing to technically advance into the 21st century” while maintaining a “professional, positive community presence.” Smith recently revised the agency’s operations manual, which lists expectations of respect for citizens, officer integrity, commitment to service, and a strive for excellence among its mission.
Furthermore, Smith aspires to complete his degree in Criminal Justice. “I’m a few classes short. Cobb County came calling before I graduated. I took classes after the academy, but it was difficult to find any that worked with my schedule. That’s a personal, short-term goal of mine, to finish my degree now that online classes are more prevalent.”
Smith is proving to be a respected leader, highly-visible and easily approachable, available to address citizen concerns, and provide useful information to the public. When not actively enforcing the law and preserving the peace, Smith regularly steps in to offer other forms of service. Whether its shopping with local children during the holiday season, providing car seats to parents in need, ensuring that city activities go as planned, or taking on the responsibility of emptying trash cans on the town square during events, the humble public servant is an appreciated asset to the community.
As part of continuing education and training in the administration of law enforcement, Smith recently attended the 2018 Annual Summer Training conference, sponsored by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. Heads of law enforcement agencies from over 550 departments throughout the state participated in the Savannah conference. “It was informative. There was a series of classes on different subjects, and though some were geared toward larger agencies, the conference provided a good opportunity to network with other departments,” Smith said.
Additional articles related to Chief Smith are available.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Party hosted an “Old-Fashion Rally and BBQ” on Hiawassee Town Square, the weekend prior to the state run-off election. Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young organized and orchestrated the event, drawing Gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle , and Secretary of State candidate David Belle Isle, to visit with constituents.
Georgia State Senator Josh McKoon spoke on behalf of Lieutenant Governor candidate David Shafer, and former State Representative Stephen Allison represented Gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp. Kemp was unable to attend due to an engagement with U.S. Vice President Mike Pence in Macon, Georgia.
Vendors set up shop along Berrong Street, and K&K Killer Kue served smoked pork barbeque sandwiches to guests.
The Republican Party held a bake sale, and the President’s Team manned an information booth.
Radio host of EXtreme Carolina, Michael Levi Borkman, served as Master of Ceremony.
Former Towns County Republican Chair Mark Wolchko streamed music, leading up to the candidate “stumping”.
Chris Clinton, who serves as Towns County Sheriff, and his band provided live entertainment.
Hiawassee Police Department chipped in, providing not only security, but supplying a needed tent and table for visitors.
Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, staying throughout, and Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales made a brief appearance at the event.
The State Run-Off Election takes place tomorrow, July 24. Polls will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.
(Feature Image: Blairsville Mayor Jim Conley shakes hands with Gubernatorial candidate Casey Cagle)
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Two pit stops occurred in the heart of Hiawassee during the 9th annual Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In.
The first took place on the evening of Wednesday, July 11, as a fresh event was introduced to the itinerary: A “drive-in” movie presentation of the 1978 classic hit, ‘Grease’, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.
Vehicles from different eras traveled from miles around to rest their engines on Hiawassee Square while their owners enjoyed a night on the town. Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales graciously welcomed newcomers to the event as they arrived, taking their seats among the ever-growing crowd. A senior couple danced to aptly-themed music, entertaining bystanders before the main event began. Towns County High School football players sold beverages to fund the purchase of needed equipment. Towns County Library Branch Manager Debbie Phillips operated an old-fashion popcorn machine, and the smell of a vendor’s hot boiled peanuts tempted guests to snack as they watched the film.
The following day, Thursday, July 12, the owners of antique vehicles, along with appreciative spectators, flocked to the town square to participate in Hiawassee’s second annual Moonshine Cruiz-In Block Party. A parade of classic cars arrived on the square at noon, greeted by upbeat music streamed by “Soundman” Tim Massey. A sudden downpour of rain began to fall in unison as the cars roared in. Attendees sought shelter under the tents provided by United Community Bank, Hiawassee Police Department, and beneath nearby store-front awnings while they waited for the summer storm to pass. The clouds soon cleared, and visitors circled the square, stopping to converse with car owners while ogling a variety of vehicles from days gone by.
“I think it’s great that Hiawassee added (these events) to the line-up,” Jerry Shook, a Habersham County resident and the proud owner of a pristine 1956 Ford Town Sedan, told FetchYourNews, “I attend every year, and it’s a nice to have even more to look forward to.”
Food vendors set up shop along Berrong Street, which was closed to traffic. Local restaurants Monte Alban, Sundance Grill, Asiano’s, and Hawgs & Dawgs BBQ offered a selection of festival-friendly fare. Cub Scouts Troop 407 supplied soft drinks to heat-parched guests. The event ran until 2:00 pm, and the classic cars and trucks proceeded to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds to regroup for a sixty mile caravan cruise to Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia. The crew returned to the fairgrounds that evening to celebrate the Sour Mask Kickoff Bash, overlooking sparking Lake Chatuge.
(Feature Photo: Jerry Shook checks under the hood of his 1956 Ford Town Sedan)
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. – Dozens of community members and government officials gathered at the Towns County Civic Center on the evening of Tuesday, June 12, to discuss their visions for Hiawassee’s future. The City of Hiawassee has been working closely with the Carl Vinson Institute of Government, a unit of the Office of Public Service and Outreach at the University of Georgia, which assists state and local governments in achieving goals. Hiawassee received a $30,000 Appalachian Regional Commission (ARC) grant in 2017 to fund the study. Steering committees were chosen for the strategic planning endeavor, and previous meetings took place to gain insight.
Correction: While the City of Hiawassee quoted a flat “$30,000” when asked the ARC amount, FYN learned post-publication that $21,000 was awarded, with an additional $9,000 matched locally, for a grand total of $30,000.
“When we first got the grant, the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute was not available, and I really wanted to use the University of Georgia Carl Vinson Institute because these guys are masters,” Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales said, “They know how to do this, they’ve done this in a million different cities. They know what’s going on, and the intent of this is for us, and you more than anything, to define what we want our city to look like. We don’t want it to be Helen. We don’t want it to be any city in Florida. We don’t want it to be Asheville. We don’t want it to be anything but Hiawassee, but we don’t know what that is. So that’s what this strategic plan is all about.”
Many in attendence praised Mayor Ordiales, with some referring to the elected offical as “progressive-minded.”
Table-top discussion groups were formed prior to the start of the meeting, and ideas were projected onto a screen from laptop computers.
Listed among what is “working” in Hiawassee’s favor was appreciation for local shops, commendation of Hiawassee Police Department, the seasonal events on town square, access to reliable contractors, and the overall “quality of life” in the mountains.
Suggested improvements included an updated courthouse and post office, extended beautification efforts, the need for year-round activities, the creation of a city that will beckon visitors, a liquor store to raise revenue, the necessity for affordable housing, activities geared toward youth, improved public parking, and easily accessible recycling areas.
City annexation was noted, as well as hope for increased cultural diversity, public art displays, replacement of “tacky signs” to give the city a uniformed appearance, and a desire to deviate from a “Bible-Belt” stigma.
When asked to describe Hiawassee, some chose adjectives such as “quiet,” “charming,” and “quaint” while others described the city as “outdated” and “stuck.”
Hiawassee Councilwoman Nancy Noblet said she hopes the city will grow to become more than a retirement community. Councilwoman Amy Barrett expressed appreciation for tradition. Councilwoman Anne Mitchell used the word “bustling” to invoke her vision for the city’s future.
Carl Vinson Project Manager Jessica Varsa led the meeting, with the assistance of colleauges from the institute. Varsa relayed that another forum may take place next month, with efforts expected to wrap up in November.
“I want to see the city grow, but I also want it to remain a small-town because it’s home,” said Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, a planning committee member.
Hiawassee Council members Patsy Owens and Kris Berrong attended the forum.
Feature Photo: (L-R) Hiawassee Councilwoman Patsy Owens and Mayor Liz Ordiales
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 of 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 states that the purchase of a hands-free device, such as a Bluetooth device or a stationary mount for electronics, prior to an appearance in court, will allow a defendant to enter a not guilty plea. 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 implemented similar hands-free driving laws.
Additional information on the Hands-Free Georgia Act can be found at www.headsupgeorgia.com