HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The COVID-19 scare did not prevent a crowd of constituents from attending the 2020 Towns County Sheriff Candidates’ Forum held Saturday, March 14. Each of the five contenders were asked a series of questions in a staggered order, ranging from their plans for the sheriff’s office to how they intend on handling the law enforcement agency’s operational budget. A consistent theme throughout the forum was the contenders’ ambition to instill community policing and combat the drug problem in the area.
FYN provided a live-streamed video of the forum for viewers to watch in real-time.
The forum was hosted by the Towns County Republican Party and moderated by John Van Vliet, a professor at Young Harris College. Candidates for Towns County’s next sheriff — Jim Couch, Linda Curtis, Kenneth Henderson, Lisa Joseph, and Daren Osborn — had informational tables set up in the lobby of Towns County Schools for citizens to learn more about their campaign platforms and obtain signs or stickers of support.
Each candidate issued opening and closing statements between the multiple questions submitted by Towns County residents. A mild rift occurred when contestant Joseph stated that she was a good choice for sheriff due to her short time residing in the county and lack of kin who could be shown special treatment if a native Towns Countian was elected. Candidate Osborn, a lifelong resident of Towns County, took advantage of the time allotted for his closing statement to respond to Joseph’s statement, vowing that the insinuation would not be the case if elected.
Interestingly, the five candidates responded in limited terms when asked where their campaign contributions stemmed, with the contestants listing self-funding and “family and friends” as donors. Candidates are required to file a campaign contribution disclosure statement with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission in order to disclose the identities of financial backers. Osborn, however, divulged that his contributions have amounted to approximately $10,000 thus far.
Contender Henderson publicly canceled his March 31 “meet and greet” as a health precaution due to the coronavirus outbreak. Towns County Republican Chair Betsy Young announced at the start of the forum that no cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the Ninth District as of March 14, 2020.
YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – FYN received information on Jan. 27 that the Towns Republican Party headquarters in Young Harris was targeted in an overnight “egging” incident. FYN spoke with Towns County GOP Chairwoman Besty Young, with Young stating that she is “shocked” by the political attack. “In all my years in politics, I have never had anything like an egging happen before,” Young said, concerned that the incident could be the start of an escalating situation.
Towns County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Terry Conner confirmed that an incident report was taken by a responding deputy and that the matter will be followed up with an investigation. Conner said that the offense is related to criminal trespass, given the fact that less than an estimated $500 in property damage occurred.
Young later informed FYN that a sheriff’s office investigator collected the eggshells from the scene to process as evidence.
FYN was additionally contacted by Jeanie Loiacono, an office volunteer for the Towns County Republican Pary. Loiacono reported that Trump campaign signs have been disappearing from the area. Loiacono said that the issue was brought to the attention of Towns County Sheriff’s Office Captian Jim Couch over the weekend at the candidate’s meet-and-greet event, with Couch advising the public to report the theft of campaign signage to authorities. “I guarantee that Couch is going be the next sheriff,” the GOP volunteer began, adding that the allegedly stolen Trump signs were secured with zip ties to prevent wind damage and deter theft. “If the signs are stolen from private property and the people are caught, it’s criminal trespass.”
FYN reached out to the Towns County Democratic Party, offering an opportunity to weigh-in on the alleged , overnight attack. The Towns County Democrats did not respond to FYN’s request for comment prior to publication.
It should be noted that no assumptions as to who may be responsible for perpetrating the incident were issued by the Towns County Republican Party.
“Throwing perishables in protest has a long and often illustrious history,” the Guardian reported in 2015. “In AD63 the Roman governor Vespasian was pelted with turnips by subjects fed up with his punitive policies. Eggs made an appearance in the middle ages when prisoners were regularly put in stocks and pelted with them. Elizabethan theatre-goers threw rotten eggs to protest against bad acting, which some might say is not so dissimilar to their use in the theatre of politics today. And in Middlemarch, set in the 1830s, George Eliot was familiar enough with the practice to subject Mr. Brooke to the humiliating fate of a substantial egging during an election speech: “Here an unpleasant egg broke on Mr. Brooke’s shoulder… then came a hail of eggs, chiefly aimed at the image, but occasionally hitting the original, as if by chance.”
HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Towns County’s Republican and Democratic parties have joined forces in an effort to promote leadership skills among area youth. Initiated in 2009 by members of the Towns County GOP, the annual “Top of Georgia Student Development Speech Contest” was created to bolster the confidence and encourage achievement for local students. Specialized preparation is offered by members of the speech contest committee, and this year’s event will be chaired by 2019 winner Samantha Church. Church was the first student selected in the history of the program to chair the committee.
“Prior to the contest, participants receive concentrated training and practice in the various nuances of preparing and presenting speeches,” Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young explained.
Speech contest participants will compete for a $400 prize, awarded to the top winners in the middle school and high school divisions. Organizers expect over 60 student speakers to take part in the upcoming event. Six preliminary sessions will be held, and the winners will compete on Feb. 25, 2020, at the Towns County Senior Center in Hiawassee.
Adam Penland, the contest’s sole two-time winner, went on to take top place in the state’s Future Business Leaders of America speech contest and placed runner-up in the national event. “Communication skills are the number one skills most employers look for when hiring employees, so the information you gain from this program can expand your options for employment more than you ever thought you could,” Penland said in support of the leadership training.
Past winners have proceeded to be selected to introduce state elected leaders at public events.
“Being competent in public speaking automatically instills confidence in a person as they navigate the roadways of life,” Towns County Democrats’ Chair Charlene Sleczkowski said. ” That’s why offering such an opportunity, beginning at the middle school level – 6th through 8th grades – and continuing through high school – 9th through 12th grades – gives our students a leg up in life over others.”
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A week has passed since a local reporter was denied entry to a meeting held at a government facility, and while the Towns County Republican Party and guest speaker, Chris Gaubatz, have extended apologies concerning the unconstitutional ban, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton has defiantly defended his role in the civil rights violation.
Clinton, who takes to the air waves of a Union County-based radio station each weekday morning, was questioned about the highly controversial incident by the broadcast’s host Oct. 3. The sheriff divulged on live radio that he had, in fact, conversed with Gaubatz immediately prior to the ban and agreed that the reporter, Robin Webb, was justly targeted to prevent potential “bad press” within the conservative activism workshop.
Gaubatz later stated that his snap reaction stemmed from misleading information, presumably supplied by the sheriff, and expressed earnest regret over the handling of the situation. Towns County GOP Chairwoman Betsy Young, who did not attend the meeting, called the ban “not acceptable.”
Webb – whose regular beat includes local political coverage – held reservations for seating at the public event, accepted by the Towns County Republican Party.
Furthermore, Webb reported on Gaubatz last March without incident. Click to read archive
“Denying access was deliberate suppression of Freedom of Press set forth by an elected official sworn to uphold the Constitution,” Webb stated in reference to the sheriff’s participation in the ordeal.
True to form, Clinton attempted to portray the county reporter as a hostile, left-wing member of the media on the morning show. “We live in a country where the rules no longer apply to the Progressives…,” Clinton said in apparent support of the illicit ban, going on to talk about insurrection in Washington by the “Left.”
Civil rights’ attorneys have taken a keen interest in the unconstitutional act, calling the violation nothing short of illegal.
Towns County Attorney Robb Kiker issued a formal statement Oct. 2 on behalf of Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, whom Kiker described as “prudent in protecting the integrity of the office.” Commissioner Bradshaw was not present at the event when the incident occurred, later learning details of the situation through third-party accounts.
“I understand Mr. Bradshaw personally expressed disappointment in the handling of the matter,” Attorney Kiker said. “This is characteristic of Mr. Bradshaw because I have always found him to be a strong supporter of the Constitution and, particular to this matter, the freedom of speech.”
Georgia laws requiring a transparent government were additionally called into question by Sheriff Clinton Oct. 3. “It’s staggering the amount of taxpayer time and resources the ‘fake news’ wastes with open records requests about nonsense. It’s stalking,” Clinton, who frequently describes investigative media as “threatening,” claimed.
Open record requests filed by FYN in the past have revealed unsettling revelations, such as disproving troubling “facts” dispersed to the citizens by the sheriff himself and exposing the limited amount of time that Clinton has devoted to elected duty.
FYN submitted a request Oct. 2 to review the lead lawman’s cellular log on the evening that the media blackout occurred, a point that was negatively noted by the sheriff on-air. FYN expects to receive the legally-requested information from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office in coming days.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Party is gearing up for the 2020 election cycle by hosting a presidential watch party this evening, Tuesday, June 18, at the residence of Towns County GOP Chairwoman Betsy Young. President Donald Trump is expected to announce his intent to pursue a second term as America’s commander-in-chief during a televised launch rally at the Amway Center in Orlando, FL.
“The GAGOP has asked people all over Georgia to have a celebration and use social media to share it, showing our support for this president,” Chairwoman Young said.
“The Fake News doesn’t report it, but Republican enthusiasm is at an all time high,” President Trump tweeted on the morning of the launch. “Look what is going on in Orlando, Florida, right now! People have never seen anything like it (unless you play a guitar). Going to be wild – See you later!” While the Orlando venue is expected to be filled to capacity with 25,000 supporters, an estimated 100,000 individuals were noted to have requested attendance. ClickOrlando, a Florida-based news source, reported Trump’s supporters began arriving outside of the vast arena 40 hours prior to the start of the event.
The local watch party is scheduled to begin at 7 p.m. in Hiawassee with President Trump taking the Sunshine State stage at 8 p.m. For information on attending the open event, dial Betsy Young at 904-382-1912 or email TCGOPChair@gmail.com
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Towns County Republican Party hosted two guest speakers Thursday, May 16, at their monthly meeting at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee. Georgia State Senator John Wilkinson addressed the “Good, Bad, and Ugly of the 2019 Session” and Dr. Gerry Chotiner spoke on subject of political correctness, “To Be or Not to be PC.”
Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw opened the meeting with quotes by former President Ronald Reagan. Top of Georgia Speech Training contest winner Gabe Moody spoke on the importance of the American flag before leading the group in the Pledge of Allegience. Students Summer Rahn performed the National Anthem, and Samantha Church introduced Senator Wilkinson.
The senator praised the state’s balanced budget and AAA bond rating, noting that 90-percent of senior citizens pay no state income tax. Wilkinson informed that Georgia is considered the number one state to do business in the county, and relayed that he believes Governor Brian Kemp had “a great first session.” The state official expressed disappointment in the failure to pass the “recess bill” which would have mandated 30 minutes of recess each day for school children. Wilkinson said it was a good year for education, as teachers received pay raises, and 2,300 schools which took part in a study will each receive $30,000 to improve school safety. The senator spoke favorably on the “heartbeat bill” which bans abortion after six weeks of pregnancy. “Georgia need to be a state that stands for life,” Senator Wilkinson said.
Dr. Chotiner spoke on the history of political correctness, providing statistics from a 2015 study conducted by Yale University. According to Chotiner, 51 percent of students favored speech codes, and 33 percent could not identify the First Amendment which protects free speech.
Towns County Republican Party recently launched a website, and GOP Chair Betsy Young displayed it on a laptop computer near the refreshment table for attendees to view. Towns County GOP meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6 pm at the civic center on the courthouse campus.
Young Harris, GA – Towns County Republican Party Chair, Betsy Young, has announced a tribute to America’s Veterans and First Responders will be held at the War Memorial at Foster Park this Sunday, October 15, at 3 pm.
The Pledge of Allegiance will be recited and the National Anthem will be sung in honor of those who serve.
Foster Park is located at the new Towns County Recreation Center in Young Harris.
There is no charge and the community is invited to attend.
Towns County GOP extended an invitation to the Democratic Party Chair as well.
Follow Fetch Your News for coverage of this patriotic event.
Hiawassee, GA – Towns County’s Grand Old Party (GOP) is experiencing change and the Republicans hope to rejuvenate interest and promote active community involvement.
Mark Wolchko has stepped down as GOP Chairman, citing a plethora of health issues. “I simply can’t give the GOP what it needs,” Mr. Wolchko tells Fetch Your News.
Betsy Young, Vice Chairwoman of the Towns County GOP, is currently the acting Chair.
Scott Ledford, the GOP’s Secretary, says regular meetings will resume once the Party’s structure is determined.
One of several issues the Republican Party plans to address is erecting the Georgia state flag at the Towns County Courthouse.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – An echoing theme from Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young, along with Party members in recent months, has been dire concern that voter apathy could shock local Republicans this coming November. “If this is all we’ve got, we’re in trouble,” Young said on Thursday night, referencing the slight attendance at the monthly Towns County GOP meetings, “People seem to think that because (Stacey Abrams) is black and a woman, that she could never become the Governor of Georgia. I fear Republicans will stay home in November. The voters in Atlanta alone can determine who wins this race. We cannot become complacent.”
Democratic candidate Stacey Abrams is facing Republican candidate Brian Kemp for the Governor’s seat in the General Election on Tuesday, Nov. 6. Tauted as a “progressive champion” by supporters, Abrams is on a mission to win, battling conservative Kemp each step of the way.
Young may harbor a valid point if the lack of voting trend continues. The May Primary Election beckoned a mere 21.6 percent of Towns County’s registered voters to the polls. While the county is composed of roughly 80 percent Republican voters – and if Towns is an indicator of statewide placidity – widespread Republican disregard could potentially swing the election in Abrams’ favor, turning Georgia from red to blue in November.
Towns County GOP meets at 6 p.m. on the third Thursday of each month at the Towns County Civic Center in Hiawassee.
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, Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, 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
YOUNG HARRIS, GA – While there is no denying differences in opinion exist between Republicans and Democrats, 9th District Democratic Chair and the Georgia Mountains Progressive Democrats of America Leader David Robinson made his position crystal clear in a letter circulated among members of his Party on October 12, 2017.
Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young extended an invitation to the Democratic Party to attend the “United We Stand” event held on Sunday, October 15, at the war memorial at Foster Park in Young Harris. “It is not a Republican thing,” Betsy Young explained, “It is an everyone celebration of our flag.”
The ceremony included the reciting of the Pledge of Allegiance and the singing of the National Anthem.
In an email sent to Democratic members and obtained by Fetch Your News, David Robinson wrote:
Republican Chair Betsy Young says although she realizes her offers of inclusion won’t likely be accepted, it won’t prevent her from attempting to unite the Parties in the future.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Party is seeking additional vendors and performers for its upcoming Old-Fashion GOP Rally and Bar-B-Q, scheduled to coincide with the opening of the Georgia Mountain Fair parade Saturday, July 21, 2018.
While the events are not related, they are set to take place on the same day.
“Hometown Pride” is the theme of this year’s Georgia Mountain Fair opening day parade. The parade will celebrate its 68th anniversary. Floats will trace their way down Main Street, along with antique cars, tractors, fire trucks, horses, and the Towns County High School marching band. First prize for best float is $2,500. A total of $4,500 in prizes will be awarded. The Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds has received 15 participant applications thus far and expects that number to increase as July approaches. Businesses and organizations who would like to take part are asked to contact Hilda Thomason, manager of the fairgrounds, at 706-896-4191.
Following the parade, Towns County GOP will host local and statewide political primary “through” candidates on Hiawassee Square.
“We want to organize a very positive event,” Towns County GOP Chairwoman Betsy Young told FetchYourNews. “It will be a day of contests, music, food, crafts, and candidates on the stump. A fun, old-fashion rally.”
Young said there will be an elephant-calling contest, and the Towns County GOP mascot, “Trumpet”, a large inflatable elephant, is sure to join the festivities.
Chris Clinton Band is scheduled perform, and several vendors have already signed up to participate in the event. Barbecue pulled pork, ice cold drinks, and homemade baked goods will be available for purchase.
Plenty of 10-by-10 foot spaces are still available for $20.00 per spot. Proceeds will benefit the Towns County Republican Party general fund.
Set-up begins at 8 a.m. with the rally beginning once the parade ends. The Georgia Mountain Fair parade is scheduled to begin at 11 a.m.
Those interested in participating as vendors or musicians at the political rally are asked to contact Betsy Young at TCGOPChair@gmail.com.
HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Towns County Republican Party met for their first session of 2018 with newly-elected Chairwoman Betsy Young leading the meeting. The meeting took place on the evening of Thursday, Feb. 15, at the Towns County Civic Center.
Young opened with expressed hope that the local GOP chapter will grow in numbers and encouraged attendees to bring a friend to future gatherings prior to welcoming Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw to the podium. The commissioner later echoed Young’s sentiment.
Commissioner Bradshaw, the invitational speaker, presented a lengthy list of impressive first-year accomplishments to the attentive crowd. Commissioner Bradshaw began by recalling his recent trip to Washington D.C. as one of eight sole commissioners visiting from the state of Georgia.
The commissioner proudly displayed a letter he received from President Donald Trump, a gesture of gratitude from the highest office in the land.
“It was a great trip and I learned a lot,” Commissioner Bradshaw explained. “Towns County is the smallest county in Georgia with a sole commissioner. The other seven counties are much larger than we are. I learned that the problems they have there are the same problems we have here. What really impressed me about these commissioners was that while we were having dinner, they didn’t talk about their hobbies or their families. It was always business. There’s some really dedicated people who work for the taxpayers all across the county, but these commissioners, they are definitely committed to their jobs.”
Commissioner Bradshaw spoke on many topics he has worked through since taking office last year, ranging from completing his first year within budget to the $47 million dollars generated in revenue from tourism in 2017. Bradshaw stated he works with the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, Hamilton Gardens, and the Chamber of Commerce on a daily basis, and he looks forward to upcoming events that will further elevate Towns County’s economy, such as the “Get Outdoors!” expo in early April and the “Made in Georgia” festival scheduled for late June. The upcoming elite series BassMaster Tournament is expected to draw somewhere between $1.1 to $2 million dollars in revenue.
In attendance was Bill Kokaly, a 9th District U.S. House Field Representative for Congressman Doug Collins. Kokaly made mention of what he referred to as a “do nothing” Senate, stating 378 of the 477 pieces of legislation are sitting idle in the Senate with no action taken. Kokaly went on to reiterate Collins’ support of President Trump’s immigration reform.
Field Representative Kokaly announced the 9th District Veterans Benefits Fair will be held at the Rabun County Civic Center in Clayton on Wednesday, Feb. 21, from 1 p.m. until 3 p.m. Constituent services staff from Congressman Doug Collins’ office will be available to assist veterans with questions and casework. Representatives from the Atlanta Veterans Affairs (VA) Regional Office, Atlanta VA Health Care System, Asheville VA Medical Center, Georgia National Cemetery, Georgia Veteran Service Office, and the Emory Veterans Program will be available. RSVP and inquiries should be directed to 770-297-3388 or Tena.Riley@mail.house.gov.
The Republican meeting concluded with the moniker “Trumpet” being selected as the inflatable elephant mascot’s name. “Trumpet” is scheduled to make appearances in the Georgia Mountain Fair and Christmas parades. Plans for an old-fashioned rally and barbecue are in the works for this summer.
The Towns County GOP meets on the third Thursday of each month at 6 p.m. at the Civic Center, located adjacent to the Towns County Courthouse.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Republican Party took to social media in an attempt to persuade against “yes” votes on ballot amendments, including “Marsy’s Law.” Towns GOP Chair Betsy Young shared a letter attributed to Georgia resident Dottie McIntosh Honea, addressed to family and friends.
“Amendments are hard to read and written that way on purpose,” Young stated, later adding, “I almost always vote against all amendments.”
While Honea’s letter included opposition to a taxation amendment, the initial segment focused on the crime victim portion of November’s ballot.
“One Amendment (#4) so-called Marcy’s (sic) Law is particularly ambiguous. The TV ad supporting this amendment is compelling; a victim stating her abuser was let out of prison and she was not notified. She begs the TV audience to help the victim by voting in favor of this amendment. Who wouldn’t want the victim to be helped?,” Honea wrote, “But when the Amendment is read carefully, you will note that it states ‘…the Constitution shall be amended so as to provide ‘certain rights’ to victims against whom a crime has allegedly been perpetrated and allow victims to assert such rights.'”
Honea continued on to assert that the ‘certain rights’ to be granted to crime victims are vague, without clear assurance of notification when a perpetrator is released from prison.
“The victim can assert such rights….what rights? Certain ones? What are they referring to? Will it be left up to a judge to decide what ‘certain rights’ the victim has? No guarantee of being notified of anything. Please do not vote in favor of changing our state Constitution to contain something so non-specific as Amendment #4…’Marcy’s (sic) Law.’ This Amendment will not help Marcy, or you, at all,” Honea concludes.
National opponents of the crime victim amendment warn “Marsy’s Law” could undermine due process.
“Since 2008, a national campaign entitled “Marsy’s Law” has sought to enshrine in state constitutions a specific and lengthy set of victims’ rights,” ACLU Policy Director of New Hampshire Jeanne Hruska stated earlier this year, “Funded by California billionaire Henry Nicholas, the campaign’s goal is to lock its formula into every state constitution and then to amend the U.S. Constitution to include similar victims’ rights. Though well intended, the Marsy’s Law formula is poorly drafted and is a threat to existing constitutional rights. Victims’ rights are not rights against the state. Instead, they are rights against another individual. The Marsy’s Law formula includes the rights to restitution, to reasonable protection, and to refuse depositions and discovery requests, all of which are enforced against the defendant. Such rights do nothing to check the power of the government. In fact, many of the provisions in Marsy’s Law could actually strengthen the state’s hand against a defendant, undermining a bedrock principle of our legal system — the presumption of innocence.
As of April 2018, five states had adopted Marsy’s Law, including California, Ohio, Illinois, North Dakota, and South Dakota. Montana passed Marsy’s Law, although it was later ruled unconstitutional, and subsequently, overturned.
Georgia joins Nevada, Oklahoma, and Kentucky in voting on the crime victim amendment on the Nov. 6 ballot.
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HIAWASSEE, Ga. – While early voter turnout was especially strong in North Georgia throughout the first week of the 2018 General Election, state and local Republican leaders echoed the importance of encouraging friends and family to cast ballots during a Towns County “Get Out The Vote” rally Thursday, Oct. 18 .
A sizeable crowd of constituents attended the town hall meeting, orchestrated by Towns County GOP Chairwoman Betsy Young, and Republican member Donna Barrow.
“We all know that after watching the Kavanaugh hearings, and the things that were going on, it’s very scary, and we have to get out the vote..,” Young urged, “We’re speaking to the choir here, we know that, but we want you to reach out.”
Towns County High School Commissioner Seth Fullerton introduced Colonel Dale Sissell, an author and two-time Purple Heart recipient, to lead in the Pledge of Allegiance. Towns County High School student and vocalist Summer Rahn sang “God Bless America,” followed by the National Anthem.
Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw served as Master of Ceremonies, opening the meeting by reciting words attributed to former President Ronald Reagan.