City council will continue to learn more about land use options

land use

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Hiawassee City Council agreed to move forward with learning more about land use and potentially zoning options for the city.

After attending a planning and land use class to learn more about the options on the table for cities, the council wanted more information before making any lasting decisions.

“It was a very good class. It was a lot of information poured out very quickly and it’s hard to digest all the information very quickly,” said Councilmember Jay Chastain.

Councilmember Anne Mitchell added she thought it provided the opportunity to “correct some of the growth” and was excited about the opportunity.

Chastain and Mitchell also agreed it would take a lot of discussion before putting anything into place.

Chastain thought the best plan would be if the city ever decided to move forward with more planning, zoning, or land use procedure, then it should be placed on the ballot as a referendum for the people to decide.

The city attorney explained that several cities have placed referendums on the ballot, not related to statutes like alcohol. So, he wasn’t going to advise that a referendum wasn’t a possibility.

“We’ve got to do lots of prepping beforehand,” Chastain stated. “We’ve got to draft what we’re going to attempt to do.”

Currently, the council is just discussing whether they want to move forward with the discussion or drop it entirely.

“I agree with Jay. It’s going to take a lot more community involvement, educating, and research before we decide to go down this direction,” Councilmember Amy Barrett commented.

Mitchell asked for information about how long the process would take and offered to attend as many informational sessions as she can to gain a better handle on the issue.

Young Harris has a zoning policy in effect.

The biggest area in Hiawassee that could benefit from a planning or zoning policy would be the business district. The measure could potentially prevent storage units from being developed along Hwy. 76. However, all of Hiawassee would be zoned either as a business district, residential district, or commercial/industrial. It must be a continuous area for the entire city limits. In some cases, a mixed-use area can be acceptable.

Towns County unincorporated isn’t currently considering a zoning policy. Most residents are against any zoning or planning ordinances.

“I don’t want people telling me what I can do or what I can’t do on my property is what people’s biggest concerns are,” Councilmember Nancy Noblet explained.

They all agreed that they wanted to learn more before implementing or dropping the planning and zoning discussion.

Salaries are an issue for public safety

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith explained it’s becoming difficult to find individuals to fill officer positions. The main reason for this difficulty is pay.

“There’s a couple of officers I’ve spoken to, trying to get them to leave their current department to come work here, but we’ve had trouble so far,” Smith explained. “The ones I’ve spoken to we can’t match their pay.”

Neighboring departments are paying $4 more an hour. The starting pay for an officer with no experience is $14.26. They are looking for an overnight officer, so the pay is slightly more. Towns County deputies are paid around $3 more an hour.

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith

Hiawassee Police Department does include a benefits package too.

Smith added that the police training conference he recently attended said this is an issue across the state.

Chastain said it might be time to look at the pay scale for public safety officials.

“I hate that these guys and girls have to put their life on the life for me. It breaks my heart that we’re all about this other stuff, but when it comes to our police department, I feel like that somewhere in the budget. It may not be water or sewer but somewhere in that budget surely to God, we can find money that can go to y’all,” Noblet stated.

One course of action to pay more police officers more would be raising taxes, but the council wants to review the budget first.


Update: Shooter suspect extradited back to Georgia


UPDATE: February 2, 2021

Charles Jason Matheson age 41, has been extradited back to Georgia from Clay County, NC this morning to face charges of Felony Criminal Attempt (to Commit Murder), Felony Aggravated Stalking, and Felony Aggravated Assault. I would personally like to thank all who have assisted in the apprehension of this suspect. – From Towns County Sheriff’s Office.

Later that afternoon, Sheriff Kenneth Henderson escorted Matheson to appear in front of Magistrate Judge David Rogers. Rogers denied bond on all charges and referred the case to Towns County Superior Court.


HIAWASSEE, Ga – Alleged shooter Charles Jason Matheson, 41, appeared in Clay County District Court on January 28 and rejected the waiving of extradition charges.

Matheson is being held in Hayesville on a fugitive warrant until his extradition to Georgia to face criminal charges for allegedly shooting his estranged wife multiple times at her place of work in Hiawassee, Georgia. After, he fled the scene and traveled to the Matheson Cove Road area in Clay County, North Carolina. Clay County Sheriff’s deputies blocked off Matheson Cove Road.

Read more details of the initial incident here. 

The shooting suspect’s been appointed an attorney and is currently under a $1 million secured bond. He’s currently charged with aggravated assault in Georgia and a fugitive charge in Clay County.

Georgia officials are in the process of applying for a Governor’s warrant. If issued by Governor Roy Cooper (D-NC) then North Carolina law enforcement can take the fugitive into custody to be picked up by the other state. The individual “might already be in custody not allowed bail or was unable to make bail following his or her initial arrest.”

Arguments against extradition will be heard on February 15.

Survivor Speaks

Matheson’s estranged wife, Crystal Matheson has been recovering after undergoing surgery for her wounds. On Saturday, January 30, she released a statement on social media expressing her gratitude toward the community.

Crystal Matheson

“Hey guys. I have been overwhelmed by the love that has been directed my way. I am blessed beyond measure is the simplest way I know to put it. I have felt your prayers and please keep them coming because I need them. Some of you praying I don’t even know but they are so appreciated. Those of you do know I wouldn’t have ever thought I’d be asking for prayers for a situation like this. It doesn’t seem quite real. I thank God because He is the only reason I am here. It’s not a question or a wonder or a might be. It is simply fact. I am blessed and thankful for every single person who helped from my coworkers, the girls in the doctor’s office, the cops from local to GBI, the EMS and LifeFlight, the ER doctors, and nurses, the trauma team and surgeons and every person I’ve encountered in the hospital. There is no way to make it seem logical…it defies it. I have 8 gunshot wounds. I know I shouldn’t be here but I am. My God is beyond comprehension in His goodness. I am doing my best to keep focused on getting better. It’s hard. It’s not pretty. And some days I’m not as strong as I want to be. I’ve never had pain like I’ve had but at least I’m here. Its slowly easing up some and I am so grateful. I can’t get around I can stand and take a few shuffles steps but it’s a blessing to do that. It wears me out just to do that but I’m determined to keep trying. I have quite a bit of nerve pain issues in one leg. I ask that yall keep praying for me. I pray for pain relief and strength so I can do things a little easier. I ask that you pray for my blood pressure to normalize so that I can work with Physical Therapy and get stronger. I ask you to pray for wounds to heal so I can move around without fear of hurting something more. I’m trying to answer messages. There’s a lot so please bear with me. I love all of you all. You have no idea what you mean to me and my son and my family. Overwhelmed doesn’t even describe it. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.”

Members of the community have organized auctions and GoFundMe accounts to help her pay for her recovery bills. The auction will take place on February 25 and 26.

Shooter suspect in custody, charged with aggravated assault


HIAWASSEE, Ga – On Tuesday, January 26, suspect Charles Jason Matheson, 41 of Young Harris, Ga allegedly shot his estranged wife at her place of employment, Chatuge Outpatient Rehabilitation Client in Hiawassee on River Street, around 2:50 p.m.

The victim was shot multiple times by Matheson and was transported to a north Georgia area hospital for treatment. According to Hiawassee Police Department, as of January 27, she is currently recovering after surgery.

Matheson fled the scene of the shooting and traveled to the Matheson Cove Road area in Clay County, North Carolina. Clay County Sheriff’s deputies blocked off Matheson Cove Road and asked residents of Matheson Cove Community to remain indoors once they located the suspect. Matheson was taken into custody around 8:30 p.m. on January 26. According to Sheriff Bobby Deese, the suspect’s car was found outside the residence.  He also relayed that Matheson turned himself in without incident. Clay County is holding Matheson until he can be extradited to Georgia.

Law enforcement arrested Matheson on aggravated assault charges. Hiawassee PD confirmed this will not be the only charge considered by the grand jury.

“District Attorney Jeff Langley responded to the scene yesterday with his staff, and will have the opportunity to bring all relevant charges for indictment,” said Hiawassee PD.

The GBI is also investigating the case in coordination with the Hiawassee PD.

Towns County Sheriff Kenneth Henderson told FYN he supported the police in their initial response and worked alongside them in the city. Henderson said, “We arrived on the scene and informed the Chief up there that we were there to assist in any way that we could to help him with the situation.”

Fetch Your News will continue to update this story as more information becomes available.

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.

Visitors not welcome in Hiawassee as COVID-19 gains ground

Hiawassee coronavirus

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee City Council met for its work session on March 30, to discuss the growing COVID-19 virus, strongly urging area visitors to stay away. Council members unanimously approved an ordinance to close all lodging facilities in Hiawassee, an act to discourage the influx of travelers seen in recent days. The 30-day declaration takes effect on the morning of Tuesday, March 31.

Restaurants are limited to delivery, takeout, and drive-thru only, and businesses offering personal services closed their doors following the city’s emergency declaration last week.

Click to read: Towns County asks visitors to stay home as pandemic grows

Towns County is expected to enact similar measures at a called meeting on March 31. Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales stated that the City of Hiawassee has been in constant contact with Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Young Harris Mayor Andrea Gibby in order to ensure “in-sync” actions with the jurisdictions. Ordiales added that the city has been in communication with the Department of Public Health and the Center for Disease Control, as well as Georgia Commissioner of Public Health Dr. Toomey who is leading the charge against the virus in the state. “The info is not good,” Mayor Ordiales grimly announced in reference to the statistics’ outlook.

Personal Protection Equipment is arriving daily, the mayor said, and 1,200 ventilators will be delivered in the state. Test results to determine if patients have contracted the coronavirus are typically taking two days, Ordiales said, and thousands of tests are expected to be analyzed as opposed to the hundreds currently conducted.

No curfew has been enacted in the City of Hiawassee at this time.

Councilman Jay Chastain Jr. asked City Attorney Thomas Mitchell if action could be taken to reduce the level of out-of-town shoppers at the city’s lone grocery store. Mitchell said that it could not be legally pursued, and as far as travel restrictions, local governments in Georgia do not have the authority to ban travel without consent from the state. The mayor and council stressed, however, that visitors are discouraged from venturing to the area.

Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith stated that a city officer is experiencing symptoms associated with COVID-19. The officer is currently quarantined and will receive testing in Gainesville on Wednesday. Serve-Pro is providing sterilization of the city patrol vehicles, free of charge.

Mayor Ordiales relayed that Economic Developer Denise McKay has been assisting small business owners in the area, working in conjunction with the Small Business Association.

The Hiawassee City Council meeting was live-streamed on social media to provide social distancing requirements for council and citizens. Although there are confirmed cases in bordering White County and Clay County, NC, Towns County remains free of confirmed coronavirus cases at the time of this printing.

Continue to follow FYN for coverage of Towns County’s amended emergency order in addition to further developments on the COVID-19 pandemic.

Feature Image Credit: City of Hiawassee

Hiawassee PD arrests drug suspect after PIT stop

Hiawassee Police department

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department was involved in a vehicle pursuit Monday, March 2, prior to the arrest of a suspect on drug charges. According to information obtained from the city agency, the chase began at approximately 12:35 pm, ending a short time later.

The vehicle that the suspect was driving was reported as “pitted twice” by a law enforcement officer who attempted to initiate a traffic stop, leading to the apprehension of John Caleb Nicholson of Hiawassee.

John Caleb Nicholson

John Caleb Nicholson

By definition, a PIT (pursuit intervention technique) maneuver is a pursuit tactic by which law enforcement can force a fleeing vehicle to abruptly turn sideways, causing a suspect to stop. The technique is typically used by officers as a safer alternative to ending dangerous motor vehicle pursuits.

Nicholson was taken into custody and transported to the Towns County Detention Center. Charges were listed as pending at the time of publication.

FYN will provide additional information on the incident as it is made available by Hiawassee Police Department.

Nicholson is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.


Hiawassee PD arrests drug suspects via traffic stop

City Police, News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department arrested two subjects on drug possession charges Jan. 19, following a traffic stop conducted on a 2006 BMW on North Main Street. A patrol officer with the city law enforcement division witnessed a near-collision between the vehicle and another motorist, initiating the stop for improper use of the center turning lane.

Hiawassee drug arrest

Alejandro Macias Aguilar

In the arrest report obtained by FYN, Hiawassee Police Department cited observation of a “strong odor of marijuana coming from within the vehicle.” Upon further investigation, marijuana and methamphetamine were discovered in the subjects’ possessions.

Angela Jazmin Daurte, 20, of Gainesville, GA, was placed under arrest for the following offenses: Improper use of central turning lane, driving on the wrong class of license, possession of marijuana less than one ounce, and drug-related objects.

The passenger, Alejandro Macias Aguilar, 25, of Gainesville, GA, was taken into custody and charged with the following crimes: Possession of methamphetamine, possession of marijuana less than one ounce, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, and possession of a drug-related object.

Hiawassee drug arrest

Angela Jazmin Daurte

The suspects were transported to the Towns County Detention Center for processing.

The cases will be forwarded to Enotah Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution. Daurte and Aguilar are considered innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Click for Hiawassee Police Department: 2019 Year-in review

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 attracts over 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach. Approximately 15,000 viewers visit If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of our counties of coverage, please visit us at


Hiawassee Police Department K-9 detects meth in drug arrest

City Police, News

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.

Windshield violation leads to New Year’s meth arrest

City Police, News
Shon Moxley

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department arrested a Rabun County resident on methamphetamine charges Jan. 1, following a traffic stop conducted on a 1989 Ford 250 truck for an obstructed windshield violation. Shon Moxley, 48, of Mountain City, Georgia, reportedly told an officer with the city police department that he was traveling to Hayesville, North Carolina, to visit a friend when the traffic stop incurred on South Main Street.

According to the police report obtained by FYN, it was determined by law enforcement that Moxley was a felony probationer. Following an initial investigation, Hiawassee Police Department initiated a search of Moxley’s vehicle and person, allegedly discovering a clear baggie containing a “white crystal-like substance consistent with methamphetamine” in Moxley’s pocket.

While the Fourth Amendment typically prevents law enforcement from searching someone’s body, belongings, or home without a warrant or probable cause, it is common for judges to require that a probationer agree to warrantless searches as a condition of sentencing. Because this condition gives up the probationer’s Fourth Amendment rights, it’s often called a “Fourth waiver.”

Moxley was taken into custody and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of a Drug-Related Object, and View Obstructed/Windshield violations. Moxley was transported to Towns County Detention Center in Young Harris.

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


Blairsville felon arrested in Hiawassee for meth, firearm possession

City Police, News
Hiawassee Police Department

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A recent traffic stop led to the arrest of a Blairsville man on multiple charges  An officer with Hiawassee Police Department conducted a stop on a 1999 Buick Intrique for alleged improper lighting equipment on North Main Street, Dec. 9. Upon initial investigation, it was determined that the driver of the vehicle did not possess a valid driver’s license.

After the driver, identified as Steven Michael Hildebrant, 40, of Blairsville, was taken into custody for the license violation, the arresting officer reported locating two small baggies containing a white powdery substance within the vehicle. According to the police report obtained by FYN, a residue field-test indicated a positive presence of methamphetamine.

Additionally located in Hildebrant’s vehicle was an alleged loaded 9 millimeter handgun. Hildebrant was subsequently charged with Firearm Possession by a Convicted Felon and Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Crime.

Hildebrant was transported by a Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputy to the county detention where a third baggy containing a white substance was purported as discovered on the subject’s person. Hildebrant was further charged with crossing a county guardline while in possession of an illicit substance. The suspect was additionally charged by Hiawassee Police Department with driving with an obsure tag, improper use of the central turn lane, and possession of less than an ounce of marijuana.

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

Hunt continues for Hiawassee theft suspects

City Police, News
Hiawassee Antique Mall burglary

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department is seeking the public’s help in identifying two suspects believed to be involved in thefts occurring at Hiawassee Antique Mall on State Route 76.  According to authorities, an unidentified, masked white male allegedly entered the business through a broken window during the early morning hours of Sunday, Nov. 3, stealing an undisclosed amount of jewelry from the antique store. The suspect was described as small-framed in appearance.

A subsequent theft occurred at the Hiawassee Antique Mall during business hours on Thursday, Nov. 7, with video surveillance revealing a large-framed black male allegedly shoplifting jewelry from the location. Hiawassee Police Department believes that the store was surveyed by the suspects prior to the thefts and that the two incidents are likely connected.

The incidents were captured on video surveillance by business owners and turned over to law enforcement. Neither suspect appeared to be armed at the time of the incidents.

Hiawassee Antique Mall was previously targeted in 2017, resulting in an arrest.

“Our investigation is still ongoing,” Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith said. “We are following up on multiple leads and hope to crack the case soon.”

Anyone with information on either incident is asked to call 911 or contact the  Hiawassee Police Department at 706-896-2888. attracts over 300,000 article views and 3.5 million impressions per month with a 60,000 Facebook page reach, and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on

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“Hands-Free” law leads to Hiawassee meth arrest

City Police, News

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hiawassee Police Department conducted a traffic stop on North Main Street Tuesday, Nov. 19, on a gray Chevrolet Silverado, leading to the arrest of a South Carolina resident. According to the police report obtained by FYN,  a female subject was allegedly witnessed using a cellular device while driving at the time that the traffic stop was initiated.

Deborah Lynn Miles, 43, of Pelzer, SC, was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug-Related Objects following an investigation and vehicle search by the city’s law enforcement division.

A female passenger was charged with Open Container after alcohol was discovered in the vehicle.

Miles reportedly relayed to the arresting officer that she was using GPS mapping on her cellular device at the time of the traffic stop.

Miles and the passenger were transported to Towns County Detention Center. Both suspects are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Georgia’s “Hands-Free” law took effect July 1, 2018, stating that:

  • Drivers cannot have a phone in their hand or touching any part of their body while talking on their phone while driving.
  • Even with hands-free technology, drivers cannot write, read or send text messages, e-mails, social media content, and other internet data while on the road. (Voice to text is allowed)
  • Drivers cannot watch videos when they are on the road.  (Navigational/GPS videos are allowed)
  • Drivers cannot use their phones or electronic devices to record video when they are on the road. (Continuously running dash cams are allowed)
  • Drivers may listen to streaming music that does not include videos on the screen of their phone or device while driving but cannot touch their phones while on the road to activate or program any music streaming app.  Streaming music that is controlled by and listened through the vehicle’s radio is allowed.   Drivers who need to touch their phones to activate/program their music streaming apps must do so before getting on the road

  • The fine for a first conviction is $50.00 and 1 point assessed against the driver’s license.  The fine is $100.00 and 2 points for a second conviction and $150.00 and 3 points for three or more convictions.  The fines for a 2nd or 3rd offense only apply when the date of a 2nd or 3rd conviction takes place within 24 months of the date of the first conviction.  First-time offenders can have the charge dropped by showing the court they have obtained a device that allows them to talk on a phone with hands-free technology or devices.


Hiawassee Police Department archives




Shop with a Hero returns for disadvantaged students

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 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.

Cocaine, heroin charges possible following Hiawassee arrest



HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FetchYourNews (FYN) obtained information regarding a drug arrest conducted by Hiawassee Police Department Sunday, Oct. 20. James Marlin Bailey, 37, was taken into custody Sunday afternoon by the city law enforcement division and booked at the Towns County Detention Center on pending charges.

Hiawassee Police Department

FYN has since learned from law enforcement that possession, including trafficking, of cocaine and what appeared to be “black tar” heroin charges are possible following the Sunday afternoon arrest.  FYN is awaiting additional information on the incident from Hiawassee Police Department at this time.

According to the National Institute on Drug Abuse, black tar heroin comes in the form of a dark, sticky substance. Distinguishing between the powder and black tar forms of heroin is typically simple, even for the untrained eye, since black tar gets its name from its resemblance to roofing tar.

All forms of heroin are derived from morphine, a powerful opioid painkiller. Black tar heroin is primarily produced in Mexico, according to the New York Office of Alcoholism and Substance Abuse Services. Some South American and Asian countries have also been known to export the drug.

Bailey’s social media information shows that he is from the Jacksonville, Florida area, and attends North Georgia Technical College.

Rachel Iris Goodwin, 37, was additionally arrested and charged with possession of marijuana, possession, and use of drug-related objects, and crossing state/county guard lines with weapons, intoxicants, and/or drugs without consent. Goodwin is listed by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office as being held without bond. Goodwin’s social media profile states her residence is also located in Jacksonville, Florida.

Should charges prevail, the case will be forwarded to Enotah Circuit District Court for prosecution. Bailey and Goodwin are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Follow FYN for additional details as they become available.

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