Towns County EMA issues statement on coronavirus

News
Towns County Coronavirus

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw addressed COVID-19, commonly known as the coronavirus, during a special-called meeting on Thursday, March 5, with Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Brandon Walls in attendance.

“Towns County EMA is constantly monitoring the situation and is, as always, connected in real-time with our local, state and federal partners,” Walls told FYN. “We are always ready to mount a response to any situation. We urge the public to educate themselves from reputable sources such as the CDC and the state department of health. Monitoring, education, and research is a key factor in managing, mitigating and responding to any situation like the CoVid-19 outbreak. Follow standard infection control hygiene practices such as hand washing and staying home when sick. We would also like to ask the public to avoid adding to ‘hype’ and spreading unverified information.”

Two known cases of the coronavirus have been documented in Georgia; a 56-year-old father and his 15-year-old son residing in Fulton County. The man was reported as a recent visitor to Milan, Italy.

Symptoms include a fever, cough, and difficulty breathing.

As of March 5, the CDC reported 99 cases of confirmed coronavirus in 13 U.S. states, along with 10 deaths resulting from the illness. Of the 99 cases, a total of 30 have been deemed travel-related, 20 cases were spread person-to-person, and 49 cases are currently under investigation. As of March 4, a total of 1,526 U.S. patients had been tested for the novel virus. The number, however, does not include testing performed at state and local public health laboratories as testing began this week.

The CDC advises the following preventative actions to avoid respiratory illnesses:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC’s recommendations for using a facemask.
    • CDC does not recommend that people who are well to wear a facemask to protect themselves from respiratory diseases, including COVID-19.
    • Facemasks should be used by people who show symptoms of COVID-19 to help prevent the spread of the disease to others. The use of facemasks is also crucial for health workers and people who are taking care of someone in close settings (at home or in a health care facility).
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
    • If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.

 

Road crews at work as snow blankets county

News
Towns County weather

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Road Department is hard at work, clearing area roadways to ensure safe passage for emergency responders and motorists who must travel. As the snow began to fall, with current reports of over 6 inches of accumulation in some locations, Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw continues to make the rounds with county road crews.

Numerous, minor accidents have been reported throughout the county.

Towns County snow

Upper Hiawassee River, State Route 75 South.

Hiawassee Police Department advised motorists this morning to “please stay off the streets unless absolutely necessary.”

Blue Ridge Mountain EMC is reporting approximately 600 power outages in its area of coverage.

Winter precipitation is expected to taper off as the afternoon advances, with an overnight temperature of roughly 23 degrees. Partly sunny skies with temperatures in the 50s are in Sunday’s forecast.

Ice may form on area roadways after dusk. Please use extreme caution if travel is unavoidable.

“We would like to ask that travel be avoided if possible especially after dark due to freezing of wet and slushy roads,” Towns County EMA Director Brandon Walls told FYN. “We have also requested extra GDOT plow trucks to assist.”

The threat of possible localized flooding remains, Walls said, as the ground is saturated from recent rainfall and additional precipitation is anticipated to return next week. Walls urged residents to remain alert to changing weather conditions.

Follow FYN for further weather updates as developments occur.

Towns County Road Department

Towns County Road Department at work. 

Sheriff’s wife publicly names challenging candidate as rumor source

News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Words can lead to dire consequences, and that may prove to be the case for Crystal Clinton, wife of Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton. In response to a social media post dated Oct. 20, Ms. Clinton fired online allegations at 2020 sheriff’s challenger Daren “Bear” Osborn, accusing the candidate of starting a pervasive rumor that Sheriff Clinton sought treatment for drug addiction. Ms. Clinton publicly claimed that she learned the source of the widespread rumor through an estranged relative who supervises Osborn’s law enforcement division in a neighboring county.

FetchYourNews (FYN) met with Osborn and his supervisor Nov. 1, both of whom adamantly denied Ms. Clinton’s allegations. “I did not start the rumor,” Osborn asserted. Osborn’s supervisor explained that she, like many in the community, heard talk of the sheriff’s alleged stint at a rehabilitation facility long before the topic was broached by Osborn, and attempted to learn firsthand whether the hearsay held weight through the Clinton clan.

FYN followed a similar course of action in late February, offering Sheriff Clinton an opportunity to address the rampant rumor of addiction after inquiries on his whereabouts poured into FYN from dozens of concerned citizens. Sheriff Clinton ceased communication with FYN at that time.

Crystal Clinton

A controversial screenshot posted to the Facebook group, “Make Towns County Great Again, vote out Chris Clinton.”

The sheriff’s spouse continued on in reference to Towns County’s “safety officer,” Emergency Management Agency-Homeland Security Director Brandon Walls, publicly alleging that the appointed official is a “convicted felon” and insinuating that Walls should not be trusted to hold the county position. “The only statement I will make at this time is that her accusation is false,” Walls said.

Developments are expected as a result of what the parties involved consider defamation.

Ms. Clinton did not respond to FYN’s request for comment, issued via email through Sheriff Clinton, prior to publication.

 

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Walls appointed Towns County safety coordinator

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Towns County SPLOST

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Emergency Management Agency – Homeland Security Director  Brandon Walls was appointed by Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw to head the county’s loss control program Oct. 15. Walls was named Towns County safety coordinator at the commissioner’s monthly meeting.

“It is expected that department heads will compliment the effort of the safety coordinator to reduce accidents and provide for the safety of the public,” Bradshaw stated.

Brandon Walls

EMA Director Brandon Walls (left) with Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw at a June meeting.

“Towns County is extremely conscious of the safety of our employees and the citizens of our community. As an employer, we recognize our obligation to ensure the safest possible workplace for our employees. As a governmental entity, we recognize our responsibility to provide a safe environment for the public we serve. It is our belief that most accidents are preventable. In accordance with this belief, we have allocated resources to administer an aggressive loss control program in our municipality.

“All employees are responsible for cooperating with and supporting our loss control program activities and objectives. The health and safety of all employees throughout the county is of primary importance and each department shall endeavor to maintain a safety conscious attitude thoughout its operations.”

Walls was appointed Towns County Emergency Management Agency – Homeland Security Director in June of 2019.

 

Towns County EMA encourages community to attend SKYWARN course

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Towns County EMA

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) encourages citizens and first responders with an interest in weather to attend an Oct. 18 SKYWARN training session in Young Harris. The course will cover the importance of storm spotters, the basics of thunderstorms, the relationship between the National Weather Service (NWS) and EMA with the media, basic radar interpretation, identification of potential severe storm features, information on reporting weather observations, and storm spotter safety tips.

SKYWARN storm spotters are an important group of volunteers that report severe weather, winter weather, and resulting damage to the NWS, the organization’s website explains. These reports aid the weather service in accomplishing its mission of “protection of life and property” by providing forecasters essential information of what is occurring at ground level. SKYWARN spotters receive training from the NWS, learning weather safety, storm structure, and reportable criteria.  The course is typically held in conjunction with local government or area SKYWARN groups.

“Towns County has been certified as StormReady for several years,” Towns County EMA Director Brandon Walls said. “The recertification cycle is every four years, the last being in 2016.” In order to be recognized as StormReady, a county must meet criteria jointly established between the NWS and state-local emergency management officials.  Approximately 230,000 citizens have participated in the SKYWARN program nationwide.

The SKYWARN course is scheduled Friday, Oct. 18, at the Towns County Emergency Operations Center at 1100 Jack Dayton Circle in Young Harris, GA, at 6 pm.Towns County EMA

Click for map

For additional information, contact Towns County EMA at ema@townscountyga.com

Brandon Walls appointed to lead Towns County Emergency Management Agency

News
Brandon Walls

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw formally announced the appointment of Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) Director Brandon Walls at the courthouse, Tuesday, June 18, describing Walls as a ‘great fit” and a “great asset to Towns County.” Commissioner Bradshaw cited a lengthy list of credentials that Walls has achieved to a host of citizens in attendance. Walls, who served as a deputy director within the emergency division, fills the vacated position of recently retired Rickey Mathis.

According to the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), emergency management seeks to promote safer, less vulnerable communities with the capacity to cope with numerous hazards and disasters.

“My public safety career has provided me with a great deal of training and hands on experience in multiple environments,” Walls previously stated. “I traveled around the state, responding to and operating in many different incidents of widely varying types and scales. These assignments allowed me to gain experience at the field operations level and in management positions. I also developed working relationships with local, state, and federal agencies and gained an understanding of incident response and management protocols, procedures, and administration. Thoughout my career, I have studied and operated in multiple public safety disciplines.”

Walls served with the Georgia State Guard, begining his career with Georgia’s Department of Natural Resources game management division as a law enforcement officer, while pursuing an education in emergency medicine. Walls serves as a paramedic and firefighter in Towns County, and as a paramedic in Cherokee County, NC. Walls holds a range of certifications in search and rescue, advanced cardiac, trauma, and pediatric life support, in addition to tactical emergency casualty care qualifications.

“I wish to continue serving our hometown by building upon the great work already in place, expanding current programs, and leading the agency into the future as Towns County’s next EMA director,” Walls said.

 

Feature Image: EMA Director Brandon Walls (left) with Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

Towns County Emergency Management Agency offers CPR training

Community, News
Towns County CPR

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Emergency Management Agency (EMA) is offering a three-hour CPR and First Aid certification course to the public Friday, March 16, 2018, beginning at 3 p.m.

The class will take place at the Towns County Library, located next to the Towns County Courthouse.

EMA Director Brandon Walls, a paramedic and class instructor, tells FetchYourNews that in a critical cardiac event, acting fast and knowing what to do is the key to survival.

“Around 400,000 out-of-hospital cardiac arrest events occur every year in the U.S. Over 90 percent of potentially savable individuals experiencing an out-of-hospital cardiac arrest will die or suffer irreversible damage before help can arrive,” Walls explained. “The biggest reason for this large statistic is an untrained public. No age group is unaffected by this statistic.”

“First responders encounter these events every day and see family members who simply do not know what to do in an emergency,” Walls said.

Would you like to know what to do? Would you like to help family or friends in a critical emergency situation? Would you like to help lower the statistics?

If the answer is yes, register by calling 706-809-0454 or visiting the Towns County Public Library on South Berrong Street in Hiawassee.

The cost of the course is $30, paid by cash or check. The fee covers necessary materials, as well as a certification card.

Future classes may be offered based on demand.

Towns County EMA encourages citizens to visit their Facebook page and extends appreciation to the Towns County Public Library for hosting the event.

 

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September: National Preparedness Month

News, Press Release

Towns County, GA – September is National Preparedness Month and Towns County government, along with the Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA) and Homeland Security, encourage residents to prepare for unexpected situations in advance.

Towns County, along with a nationwide coalition of thousands of private, public, and nonprofit organizations, will host local events and initiatives designed to motivate people to take the necessary steps to ensure their homes, workplaces and communities are prepared for disasters and emergencies.

“National Preparedness Month is a perfect opportunity for people to evaluate their emergency plan, and if they don’t have one, to make one,” says Rickey Mathis, Director of Towns County Emergency Management Agency.

Residents can learn how to prepare and stay informed in the event of natural or man-made disasters by visiting ready.ga.gov.

By creating a Ready Profile, Georgians can construct a tailor-made plan for their families which will include the specific amount of supplies necessary for household Ready kits.

In addition, the Ready Georgia mobile app provides preparedness information on the go.

 

 

 

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