Main Street sight of BLM rally and counter protest

City Police, Community, News
main street

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Black Lives Matter activists and counter-protesters squared off on opposite sides of Main Street. Each side attempting to get their points across to members of the community.

From 4 to 6 p.m., the Black Lives Matter protesters gathered in the town square and waved signs on the sidewalk. As many as 50 people turned out in support of the movement and the end of police brutality, according to Hiawassee Police Department Chief Paul Smith.

The activist group didn’t have a permit issued, but the police department was aware of the protest. Smith added that everyone was mainly peaceful, but law enforcement would remain on the scene until all demonstrators and counter-protesters left.

He didn’t know the second group would be parked across the street. When the BLM event began, the counter-protesters first drove back and forth on Main Street. Once many of the original group left, the counter-protesters parked with their Trump and Confederate flags waving from truck beds.

FYN spoke with both sets of protesters about why the felt the need to assemble.

“I have a strong feeling like it is the right thing to do. People have been reading [our signs], and people have been smiling, ‘God Blesses,’ you know, and other people flip us off,” explained a BLM protester. Several cars drove by and some would knock horns or yell when passing. However, some of these were directed toward the individuals on the other side of the street.

She told the story of how an African American couple who saw them brought over waters and a card. Inside the card it read, “For a black mom who is scared every day that my four black sons won’t make it home. Thank you.”

The BLM protesters went on to talk about the racism in Towns County and that some black residents were scared to attend the protest.

“We need to make them feel welcome,” they said.

“The thing is it’s about all lives. I like Trump too, but that doesn’t mean that this is wrong,” explained another protestor. She went on it say in different circumstances she would be across the street waving a Trump flag. “I’m not protesting against Trump, but [police brutality], not a black and white thing.”

However, another individual part of the BLM group disagreed with her and said it’s always been a black and white thing. No one wants it to be that way, but unfortunately, many people continue to see color.

“We just want everyone to feel equal. We want everyone to feel valued and that they matter,” was the response to what they hoped came of this protest.

Counter-Protester’s Side

The counter-protesters professed a different outlook on BLM and those associated with it. They expressed that liberals made these deaths about race. According to them, the national marches were “silly” and “stupid.”

“If we don’t stand up, then people like that run over us and then they’re trying to brainwash our kids into the way they believe, we don’t believe that way,” said one individual as they pointed across the street to the BLM protesters. “I’m sick of the racism running over all of us white people and if we don’t stand together, then people like that will run all over us.”

“We live here. We pay taxes here. I was raised here. I’ve got nothing against colored people at all,” stated another counter-protester. “Nobody here harmed anybody. We didn’t harm that black guy.”

Another point of contention was the rioters, and the media not telling the entire story. People selectively picked stories to cover and deaths to feature, according to the group. No one told of the destruction and death occurring on both sides of the issue. Numerous people have been seriously injured or died because of George Floyd’s death at the hands of the police.

“Everybody’s life matters. Every one of us is God’s children,” affirmed a male protester.

They all agreed that they “didn’t have anything against” black Americans and counted some people of color as their friends. However, they disagreed with the BLM movement because it used to incite conflict.

Police Statement

HPD Chief Smith gave FYN his perspective on George Floyd’s murder and police brutality:

“I don’t know any officer that supports what happened in Minneapolis. I don’t know any officer that supports police brutality. It makes us all look bad. We don’t stand for it. Those officers being arrested for what they did is the correct thing to do. The people I spoke to out here were not here to protest the police. There were here to protest racism and police brutality and I support that right away.”

At the end of the day, both groups were passionate about their beliefs. Everyone exhibited their right to free speech and to peaceably assemble under the constitution.

Coverage from Murphy Protest.

Coverage from Ellijay Protest.

Coverage of Rabun March.

Hiawassee Police Department to offer free car seats, installment class

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Hiawassee Police Department

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department plans to host a community class to increase the safety of Towns County’s youngest residents. Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith was recently contacted by the Department of Public Health, receiving a ‘mini-grant” to conduct a car seat installment class for the public and distribute safety seats, free of charge.

Chief Smith explained that a three-and-a-half-day course on proper car seat installation is offered to law enforcement officers and that it may be difficult for the average citizen to insert the safety seats in the correct manner.

“I met with the health department, the actual recipient of the grant, and (Hiawassee Police Department) will be the distributors, and in addition to that, we will teach people how to put the car seats in,” Smith said. “They will be free to anybody who’s already on some sort of public assistance, whether it be WIC, SNAP, or reduced lunches at school. Any sort of public assistance, they will qualify for a car seat.”

An hour-long PowerPoint presentation will be held, and recipients will install the car seats in their vehicles under supervision. “We’re going to have our first event April 1, I believe, if we get everybody signed up, and I look forward to working that,” Smith said.

Per law, all children under the age of 8 are required to use a car seat or booster seat, and to sit in the rear seat of vehicles. Children under age 8 who are over 4’9” tall (57”) are exempt. Children must use car seats in passenger automobiles, vans, and pickup trucks. In other words, the law applies to all vehicles except for taxis and public transit. The car seat or booster seat must be appropriate for the child’s weight and height, be properly installed and used according to the instructions. Among other requirements, both the lap and shoulder belts should be used to secure booster seats

For additional information or to sign-up for the class, contact Hiawassee Police Department at 706-896-2888.

Featured Image: A 2018 event, sponsored by Hiawassee Police Department, to check for proper car seat installation and replace damaged and expired safety seats, free of charge. A total of 20 car seats were inspected, with 11 replaced.

Hiawassee Police Department archives

Hiawassee Police Department: 2019 Year-in-Review

City Police, News
Hiawassee Police Department

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department released its 2019 statistics this week, including a breakdown of the incidents and arrests made in the city limits last year.

Click to read Hiawassee Police Department: 2018 Year-in-ReviewHiawassee Police Department

“Three hundred sixty-four reports were filed. That’s almost one a day. Two hundred eighteen of those were incident reports. Those were reports where a crime has occurred,”  Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith began. Smith said that 47 miscellaneous reports were filed in 2019, explaining that the reports consisted of information passed onto law enforcement that did not necessarily constitute a crime. Ninety-four of the 364 reports involved accidents, two were domestic violence-related, and three juvenile subjects were included in the data.Hiawassee Police Department

“The rest of the time we spent patrolling and stopping cars. We stopped  1,061 cars last year. From those, we wrote 681 tickets. These are tickets where they actually needed to either pay a fine or appear in court, and then 426 written warnings,” Smith said. “The 681 (tickets), we actually wrote the exact same number the year prior too.”

Hiawassee Police Department’s arrests decreased by double in contrast to 2017 data. In 2019, a total of 113 suspects were taken into custody.Hiawassee Police Department

“Just to compare that to the previous two years, the (overall) arrests have gone down, and that’s a great thing. It’s not from us getting lazy and not doing our job,” Smith explained. “It’s from a lack of offenders to arrest.”

A total of 48 drug arrests were conducted last year, a slight increase from 2018. Hiawassee Police Department

Hiawassee Police Department is comprised of five law enforcement officers, including Chief Smith. Buddy, a K9 trained in drug detection, assists Hiawassee Police Sergeant Tracy James on road patrol.

Click for Hiawassee Police Department archives

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Hiawassee Police Department K-9 detects meth in drug arrest

City Police, News
HIawassee Police Department - Buddy

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department’s newest addition to the agency, Buddy, a drug-detection K-9, positively indicated the presence of methamphetamine and marijuana following a Jan. 6 routine traffic stop.

An officer with the Hiawassee Police Department conducted the stop on a 1999 Dodge Durango for a tag light violation on State Route 75 North. Upon initial investigation and indication of an illicit substance within the vehicle by the drug-detection K-9, methamphetamine and marijuana were discovered by law enforcement.

Michell Phillips

Michell Ann Phillips

Michell Ann Phillips, 47, of Frankin, NC, was taken into custody without incident and transported to the Towns County Detention Center. Phillips was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug-Related Objects, and Required Tag Light Illumination.

“This was the first arrest made based on a positive alert by Buddy,” Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith told FYN.

The case will be forwarded to the Enotah Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Phillips is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Buddy, a two-year-old yellow labrador, was trained and donated to Hiawassee Police Department in September by Ed Able, owner and operator of P.A.W.S. Dog Training K-9 Behavior Center, in Young Harris. Able, a 40-year veteran canine trainer, told FetchYourNews last May that his goal in forming the organization was based on training canines for law enforcement and first responders. Able said that it typically takes six-to-eight weeks to train the canines, followed by additional time spent in the field teamed with the handler.

Shop with a Hero returns for disadvantaged students

News
Towns County Shop with a Hero

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Shop with a Hero, an annual event sponsored by Hiawassee Police Department and Towns County Family Connection, will make the holidays brighter for underprivileged students again this year. FYN sat down with Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith on Thursday, Dec. 5, and learned the details of the 2019 event.

Thanks to a surplus of generous donations that provide disadvantaged youth with holiday shopping funds, Smith explained that he plans to initiate a back-to-school shopping event for local students next fall with the remaining donations. “We received several large donations this year,” Smith said. “We base the number of kids that we take shopping on the amount of donations we get,” Smith said that approximately 40 students will receive $200 each to shop for themselves and their families this year. An additional 40 students will benefit from the back-to-school shopping event which will provide clothing, shoes, and backpacks for the upcoming school year. Towns County Schools selects the students who will participate in the programs.

Hiawassee Police Chief

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith

Sizable contributions were provided by Kristen Ashe, a Towns County Schools student, who raised over $2,300 in conjunction with Stephens Masonic Lodge for the local Shop with a Hero as her senior project, Blairsville Car Club donated $2,000, and Smokies GT Club donated $10,000 to the worthy cause.

“It’s a very rewarding experience,” Smith said. “This is my 10th year participating and it gets better each year.”

First responders from local law enforcement agencies, the fire department, emergency medical services, as well as the Coast Guard Auxilary participate in the Walmart shopping excursion with the local students. This year’s event will take place on Dec. 20 at the start of Towns County Schools’ Christmas vacation.

For additional information, contact Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith at 706-896-2888.

 

Related Archive:

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith Recalls “Shop with a Hero”

Hiawassee Police Department updates recent drug arrests

City Police, News
Hiawassee police

Hiawassee, GA – As previously reported by FYN on Oct. 23, officers with the Hiawassee Police Department conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle Oct. 20 for numerous equipment violations. During the traffic stop, officers searched the vehicle and located methamphetamine, cocaine, and other drugs and drug paraphernalia. Both occupants of the vehicle were arrested.

Hiawassee Police Department

James Bailey

James Bailey was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana, Possession, and Use of Drug Related Objects (x3), Failure to Maintain Brake Lights, and Defective Lighting Equipment. Rachel Goodwin was charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Cocaine, Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana, and Possession and Use of Drug Related Objects (x3).

Rachel Goodwin

 Rachel Goodwin

“It has been several years since we have seen cocaine in Hiawassee,” Chief Paul Smith stated Nov. 6. “Bailey and Goodwin also had other drugs in their possession that we were unable to identify with our field test kits. Those drugs have been submitted to the Georgia Bureau of Investigations Crime Lab for testing and identification. Once the drugs are identified, additional charges may be brought against the two. As always, I am very proud of the hard work done by the officers of this department.”

According to law enforcement, the unidentified substance appeared to be “black tar” heroin.

Additionally, Hiawassee Police Department officers stopped Daniel Jones Oct. 27 for a moving violation. Upon searching the vehicle, officers located multiple bags of methamphetamine which were packaged for distribution. Jones was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession, and Use of Drug-Related Objects (x2), Possession of Less than One Ounce of Marijuana, Driving While License Suspended, and Improper Use of Central Turn Lane.

Hiawassee Police Department

Daniel Jones

Hiawassee Police Department serves within the city limits of Hiawassee.

The cases have been turned over to the Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. All suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Taser donated to Hiawassee Police Department by local veteran organizations

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Towns County Veterans

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Members of five Towns County veteran organizations recently rallied behind supporting local
law enforcement. Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith was approached by a member of the VFW who expressed a desire to help the city police department.

“We have been in need of an additional Taser, but have had to put funds toward other projects,” Chief Smith explained. “For the past two years, we have been sharing Tasers between officers, which leaves some of us without the option of an effective midrange less-lethal weapon.”

Tasers are a brand of conducted electrical weapon that uses an electric current to disrupt voluntary control of muscles, causing temporary neuromuscular incapacitation. The use of conducted electrical weapons by law enforcement agencies has resulted in fewer injuries for both the officers and suspects. “Without the option of a Taser, an officer may be required to use hands-on physical force or an impact weapon like an expandable baton,” Chief Smith said. “These force-options can result in serious injuries to the suspect and officer. We are incredibly
grateful for the support and the donation made by our veteran organizations.”

“We feel a Taser is more effective and safer in apprehending a criminal,” said Mel Halfon, VFW Post 7807 Commander. “We expect a safe community where we can go about our daily activities in an environment without fear, risk of harm, or injury. Our veterans’ family is happy to support the Hiawassee Police Department and provide funding to purchase a Taser.”

Donations for the Taser were made by VFW Post 7807, VFW Auxiliary, The American Legion Post 23, The American Legion Auxiliary, and Sons of the American Legion.

“Our veterans are such an integral part of our community,” Mayor Liz Ordiales said. “We thank them for their service then, now, and always.”

Hiawassee Police Department intercepts 116 grams of methamphetamine in recent weeks

City Police, News
Hiawassee Police Department

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Two additional drug dealers were recently taken off the streets of Hiawassee. On June 30, Richard Deaton of Flowery Branch, GA was stopped by the Hiawassee Police Department for a vehicle equipment violation. A probable cause search of Deaton revealed 18 grams of methamphetamine and 4 grams of marijuana. Deaton was arrested and charged with: Turn Signal Requirements, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Methamphetamine, and Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute.

Joseph Llorens

Joseph Llorens

On Sunday, July 28, Hiawassee Police Department stopped a vehicle for a violation of Georgia’s hands-free law. The driver was arrested for driving with a suspended driver’s license. An inventory of the vehicle revealed 98 grams of methamphetamine and 28 grams of marijuana. Joseph Llorens of Cleveland, GA was charged with: Driver to Exercise Due Care, Driving While License Suspended, Possession and Use of Drug Related Objects, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, and Trafficking Methamphetamine.

Richard Deaton

Richard Deaton

“While it is unfortunate that people are bringing these drugs into our community, our officers are doing a fantastic job in detecting and arresting those who are responsible,” Chief Paul Smith stated. “Arresting the drug dealers is a very important step in combating the drug problem. I’m proud of the work we’re doing in Hiawassee.”

The discovery of 98 grams of methamphetamine is one of the largest drug seizures by the Hiawassee Police Department, Smith said.

All suspects are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith completes annual summer training

City Police, News
Hiawassee Police Chief

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – As part of continuing education and training in the administration of law enforcement, Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith recently attended the 2019 Annual Summer Training conference sponsored by the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police. Heads of law enforcement agencies from throughout the state participated in the four-day conference. The Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police is responsible for the delivery of training to the chiefs of Georgia’s police departments and law enforcement agencies. Smith described the annual conference to FetchYourNews as “enlightening.”

The Summer Training Conference was held at the Savannah International Trade & Convention Center July 21 through July 24. This year’s conference covered a variety of topics such as: “Advancing Officer Health & Wellness”, “Leadership Strategies for the 21st Century Police Administrator”, “Las Vegas Route 91 Harvest Festival 1 October Debrief”, “DDS Card Security for Law Enforcement”, “Next Generation of Identification (NGI) Overview”, “The Impact of Legalized Marijuana and Law Enforcement Leadership in Traffic Safety”, and “Reset The Clock: Replace Liability With Credibility – Practical Employee Relations For Leaders in Law Enforcement.”

Chief Smith was among more than 550 heads of law enforcement agencies attending the 51st Annual Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police Summer Training Conference. Chief Wesley Walker of Lyons Police Department, President of the Georgia Association of Chiefs of Police, stated, “In this new era of law enforcement, Chiefs are constantly finding new ways to manage their departments. From the type of officer we are hiring today, to the concerns of the public we serve, to the way we police has changed ever so drastically. This change has brought about new standards that are required of law enforcement. The GACP has done an excellent job in keeping up with the times and providing the necessary training and direction for the Police Chiefs of this state.

“Our Summer training conference leads the country in the caliber of instructors and material delivered to the attendees. Each one of us takes away something new and useful to complement our management styles as we return to our respective departments. The networking and knowledge of the approximately 550 attendees in those classrooms is unprecedented. The GACP continues to strive to provide the best training possible to the members of the association and be the standard for other Chief’s Associations across the country.”

Hiawassee Police Chief warns of officer impersonation scam

City Police, News
Hiawassee Police Department

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 Police Department continues to warn of circulating scams

City Police, News
Chief Paul Smith

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith continues to warn the community of circulating telephone scams that could drain victims’ bank accounts. Scammers often target potential victims’ social media accounts prior to attempt to deceive, Smith cautioned, collecting information that could lead citizens to believe the call is, in fact, legitimate.

“One of the common scams that I’ve seen is called a ‘grandkids’ scam,’ Smith explained. “The person calls an area where there’s lots of retired people, Towns County, and one of the scripts they use goes something like, ‘Hey Grandma, I don’t have a lot of time to talk, but I just got arrested for a DUI. An attorney says he can get me out of jail, but I need you to wire him some money’…These people call from spoofed phone numbers. I’ve talked about that before. They can put in whatever phone number they want to show up on your caller ID…

“Another common scam is a tech support scam. I’ve had several calls in Hiawassee for that, where someone calls claiming they’re from Microsoft or Apple, and they say that they discovered a virus on the computer and need to remove it for them for a small fee, of course. Once they get access to the computer to remove the virus, they’ve got everything. They’ve got full access to the computer, and then they install a virus so that it covers their tracks.”

Chief Smith advised against falling prey to lottery scams, a ploy where a con artist claims the lottery “winner” simply needs to pay applicable taxes or import fees prior to receiving a large sum of money.

Lastly, the chief warned of scams involving law enforcement impersonation, when a caller claims to have an arrest warrant for missed jury duty or an unpaid traffic ticket. “If the police department or sheriff’s office has a warrant for you, they aren’t going to call you. They’re just going to show up and serve the warrant,” Smith said.

 

Feature Image: Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith – Spring, 2019

Hiawassee Police Department asks for community’s help with Yellow Dot Program

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Hiawassee Police Department

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.

Hiawassee Police Chief

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith

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 Police Department participates in city clean-up efforts

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Hiawassee Police Department

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith put the city department’s new utility task vehicle (UTV) to good use May 21 by joining in the efforts to keep Hiawassee pristine. The litter shown in the feature image was collected by Chief Smith along a one-mile stretch on South Main Street on Tuesday. Smith, a humble, community-minded public servant, can often be found bettering the city in ways beyond law enforcement.

“We need your help to keep our town beautiful and trash free,” the police chief asked citizens. “Don’t leave loose trash in the bed of trucks that can fly out. Keep a grocery bag in your vehicle as a trash can that you can easily throw out at home when it is full.”

Chief Paul Smith

Cheif Smith, keeping the town square clean, during an event last summer

Hiawassee Police Department’s UTV was purchased with funds from the agency’s calendar sales, Smith told FYN. Businesses purchase advertising space, creating additional revenue for the five officer division. The task vehicle will be utilized for patrol duties during events.

Employees of the City of Hiawassee regularly engage in litter pick-up around the town, per request of Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, although Smith said his department’s clean-up effort was self-initiated.

Chief Smith explained the illegality of littering:

“During the process of cleaning our streets, if we locate trash that has a name on it, we can charge the owner for the litter,” Chief Smith said. “OCGA § 16-7-44(b) states: ‘…whenever any litter which is dumped, deposited, thrown, or left on public or private property in violation of Code Section 16-7-43 is discovered to contain any article or articles, including but not limited to letters, bills, publications, or other writings which display the name of a person thereon in such a manner as to indicate that the article belongs or belonged to such person, the trier of fact may in its discretion and in consideration of the totality of the circumstances infer that such person has violated this part.’ Most people do not throw trash out the window when there’s a patrol car behind them, so it is often difficult for a law enforcement officer to catch someone in the act of littering. When we do charge someone with littering, the judge has the ability to sentence the person to clean one mile of the roadway on which they littered (§ 16-7-43(b)(2)(A)).  By serving our community and voluntarily picking up trash, the police department is able to charge the offenders who then have to clean up after themselves and others.”

Public officials share positive outlook at “Eggs & Issues” breakfast

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Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Chamber of Commerce hosted an annual “Eggs and Issues” breakfast, Wednesday, May 29, at Daniel’s Steakhouse in Hiawassee. A crowd of approximately 50 signed up to dine, buffet style, while listening to public leaders address community matters. Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby, Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, and Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith were invited to meet with the citizens.

Commissioner Bradshaw opened the event by sharing that the county budget is in good health, with a $3.1 million reserve fixed in place. Due to past, excessive rainfall, construction efforts were needed in an area that caused a storage building to buckle at Foster Park in Young Hsrris, the commissioner reported, although taxpayers’ funds were minimal due to a generous contractor who offered assistance to lower costs. An insurance check in the amount of $23,000 was issued in response to the damage of the building. Bradshaw shared that sales taxes have increased by $28,000 from this time last year, a testimony to the booming business of local tourism. The commission said that he believes the city governments are in line with the county’s goals. “We don’t want to lose small town values, and small town feel,” Bradshaw stressed.

Liz Ordiales

Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales welcomes guests to the event

Next to speak was Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales who, in part, addressed the city’s strategic plan, calling it a “driving force.” Ordiales said that the next project on the list is to make Lloyd’s Landing, where the boat ramp was located prior to Mayors’ Park, a “kid-friendly, fun, family area.” The mayor filled the diners in on the Friday movies and Saturday evening music summer series on Hiawassee Town Square, announcing that 250 music lovers attended opening night, Memorial Day weekend. “We all came here because we wanted a small town…” Mayor Ordiales reminded. “Wouldn’t it be nice to have every, single storefront filled? That’s my target.”

Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby promoted the city’s North Georgia Highlands Seafood Festival, scheduled for this weekend. Gibby addressed the anticipated road construction which will soon begin in western Towns County. “The construction process will be awful, but in the end I think it’s going to be very good for us,” the mayor assured. Gibby said that the citizens of Young Harris are in agreement as to how the development of the city unfolds, saying the residents strive for a “community and sense of belonging,” adding that “eveyone seems to want a village.”

Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton spoke on the security at the courthouse, detention center procedures, and the recently completed mass “Operation Trial Run” drug round-ups, which landed 53 arrests and over $300,000 in monetary and property seizures. The sheriff noted the local C.H.A.M.P.S. program, the importance of accountabilty in reference to drug court, and praised the volunteer efforts of the Citizen Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA) graduates. Clinton divulged that the inmates currently housed at the Towns County Detention Center are all repeat offenders. “I think we need less laws, and put the teeth back in the laws.” Sheriff Clinton said, referring to himself as “compassionate” and “a results, goal-orientated, type person.”

Chris Clinton - Sheriff

Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton at Wednesday morning’s discussion

“We haven’t had the best history of sheriff’s in the past,” Clinton said, calling the statement an “historical fact.” The county’s chief officer informed that he does not see his detractors in attendance at community events, such as the sheriff’s office fundraisers, while adding, “I don’t think any of us are claiming to be perfect. I’m certainly not.” Sheriff Clinton concluded with praise for the department’s deputies and their retention record. “We haven’t had a single patrol officer in over two years go anywhere.”

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith wrapped up the forum, relaying that he is one of five officers on the city department. “I still work the roads. I still answer calls,”Smith said, noting that having a recently-added fifth officer allows time to tend to administrative duties. Smith stressed the importance of justice and service to the community, and expressed gratitude for two patrol vehicles which were donated by the local Lions Club and a Florida poice division. The chief touched on the annual “Shop with a Hero” program which provides holiday gifts for financially challenged children in Towns County.

In attendance was Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland who warned of wildfire dangers, and asked the community to kindly pull to the shoulder of the roadway when emergency vehicles approach, with lights flashing and sirens sounding. Copeland additionally serves as the county coroner, and mentioned the importance of carrying identification with information on next of kin, along with predetermining a preference of funeral homes.

Overall, the theme of the event was overwhelming positive from the public officials involved, and in terms of attendance, the Towns County Chamber of Commerce deemed the breakfast discussion a success.

 

Feature Image: Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, speaking to the citizens of Towns County

Hiawassee Police Department schedules advanced drug impairment detection training

City Police, News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department recently scheduled Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection Enforcement (ARIDE) training for May 23 – 24 at Hiawassee City Hall, The 16-hour course is designed to enhance law enforcement officers’ ability to recognize psychophysical and clinical indicators of impairment consistent with a subject who is under the influence of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, while taking appropriate action.

“A training officer with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, GA contacted Sgt. Travis Gibson with the Clayton Police Department, seeking a location in North Georgia to host the class” Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith told FYN “Sgt. Gibson, a part time officer with Hiawassee Police Department, requested the use of the Training Room at the Hiawassee City Hall for the two day course. The class is open to all law enforcement officers who wish to attend. Sgt. Gibson, a Drug Recognition Expert, will be one of the two instructors.”

The course builds upon skills learned in Standard Field Sobriety Testing training in which law enforcement officers focus on identifying and assessing motorists suspected of driving under the influence of alcohol, Smith said. The purpose is to reduce the amount of impaired drivers, and in turn, lessen impaired driving collisions.

The two-day ARIDE course is free of charge for qualified law enforcement officers. Prior DUI – Standard Field Sobriety Testing training is required.

Drug detection course for law enforcement cancelled in Hiawassee

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ARIDE training

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Advanced Roadside Impairment Detection Enforcement (ARIDE) training was cancelled this week due to a lack of law enforcement officers who enrolled in the two-day course, scheduled to take place in downtown Hiawassee. A total of 13 participants from surrounding areas, including four Hiawassee Police Department officers, planned to take part in the drug detection training. The Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) required a minimum of 15 enrolled officers, however, to hold the course.

According to information received from GPSTC, no Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputies signed up for the class.

In late March, Hiawassee Police Department announced their intention to host the training, May 23 – 24, held at Hiawassee City Hall. The 16-hour course was designed to enhance law enforcement officers’ ability to recognize psychophysical and clinical indicators of impairment consistent with a subject who is under the influence of drugs, or a combination of drugs and alcohol, while taking appropriate action.

“A training officer with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center in Forsyth, GA contacted Sgt. Travis Gibson with the Clayton Police Department, seeking a location in North Georgia to host the class” Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith told FYN in March. “Sgt. Gibson, a part time officer with Hiawassee Police Department, requested the use of the Training Room at the Hiawassee City Hall for the two day course. The class is open to all law enforcement officers who wish to attend. Sgt. Gibson, a Drug Recognition Expert, will be one of the two instructors.”

The course was intended to build upon skills learned in Standard Field Sobriety Testing training in which law enforcement officers would have focused on identifying and assessing motorists suspected of driving under the influence, Smith explained. The purpose was to reduce the amount of impaired drivers, and in turn, lessen impaired driving collisions.

The two-day ARIDE course was free of charge for qualified law enforcement officers. Prior DUI – Standard Field Sobriety Testing training was required.

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