Towns County continues to stress importance of 2020 Census

Towns County census

HIAWASSEE, Ga – Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw and Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales are strongly encouraging Towns County residents to participate in the upcoming 2020 census, and Mountain Movers and Shakers are joining in the effort to spread the word. The community group meets at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee each Friday at 8 a.m.

“This Friday, Oct. 4, we welcome radio personality Patrick Malone,” Mark Wolchko of the Mountain Movers and Shakers said. “Pat, of course, does so much more. Among his newest projects is the U.S. Census for 2020. Every ten years since 1790, a count of the population is taken to determine, among other things, the number of representatives each state has in Congress. The method of taking that count has changed over the years, and Mr. Malone is the coordinator for the Complete Count Committee of both Union and Towns County. The county Compete Count Committees were initiated by Governor Deal, and are being continued by Gov. Brian Kemp to try and ensure that each of the 159 counties in Georgia has an accurate count. Federal funds, roads, fire, police, not to mention U.S. Congressmen, are apportioned by the U.S. census.”

2020 census

Patrick Malone, explaining the importance of the 2020 census.

The census counts the population and households, providing the basis for the amount of congressional seats, redistricting, and distributing more than $675 billion in federal funds annually to support states, counties and communities’ vital programs — impacting housing, education, transportation, employment, health care and public policy, explains.

“The job of the committee is to educate the public and to be like a trusted voice of the census, to encourage people to do it,” Malone said in July.. “Historically, the last census, 2010, Towns County had 87 percent response. 87 percent of the households in Towns County responded to the census. In Union County, it was 86 percent. We’d like that number to be in the mid-90s. We know we can’t get everybody, but we’re going to try to raise that number into the mid-90s.”

National Census Day, the reference date used for the census, is April 1, 2020.

“Early in March, every household will get a letter, and in the letter there will be the website that you can go to (and) do it online,” Malone explained. “There will also be a paper census, in case you don’t have computer access or are not computer literate, you can fill it out on paper and mail it in, and a phone number that if you’re uncomfortable doing either of those, you can call them and give them the census information over the phone. So there are three ways to do it. We hope that will facilitate more people filling it out.”

For additional information on the 2020 census, contact Patrick Malone can be reached at 706-835-1308 or by email at

Sheriff’s father publicly addresses rumors of drug rehab

sheriff rehab rumors

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton joined the Mountain Movers and Shakers Friday, Sept. 27, as the group’s featured speaker. Clinton, who officially announced a 2020 bid for re-election last week, launched his campaign by speaking on several topics. The sheriff spoke highly of his department, frequently contrasting the prior administration’s history which led to Clinton’s special election to office in 2007.

Following Clinton’s address, Michael Clinton – the sheriff’s father – publicly delivered an unprompted statement denying pervasive rumors that the elected official has attended treatment for drug addiction.

Michael Clinton asserted that the sheriff’s policies are not objectionable, comparing the opposition to that of President Trump’s, therefore critics have resorted to personal attacks.

“It’s lies. I can’t stand people just going around telling lies about people,” Michael Clinton told the sizeable crowd. “So anyways, when you hear this stuff, know what it is. They can’t attack what he’s doing, but that before and after thing, if you had before and after pictures, I tell you what, they’d be x-rated. Back in Towns County, it was always rut season in Towns County, especially in the sheriff’s office, and there’s a big difference, and you a made a big change.”

Rutting season is a time in the fall when deer mate. Sheriff Clinton interrupted to add that he has heard of deputies, under the previous administration, bragging about “rut season” to other agencies.

“Your personal life is your business, but if your personal life ever embarrasses the sheriff’s office, you’re fired,” Michael Clinton said. “And (my son’s) Christian character is above reproach, so if y’all hear this junk, don’t listen to it. So if you really want to hear what it is, come and ask me when you see me at Ingles or whatever, but be prepared to tell me who told you it.”

Beyond agreement with the “rut season” remark, Sheriff Clinton did not dispute nor affirm his father’s statement.

Following dozens of inquiries from concerned citizens, FetchYourNews offered Sheriff Clinton an opportunity in February to suppress the widespread rumors of drug rehabilitation in an effort to dispel hearsay.

Clinton declined to address the prevalent issue, opting to permanently cease communication with the news network.

Feature Image: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton, speaking to the Mountain Movers and Shakers, Sept. 27, 2019.


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Clinton receives unfavorable response to campaign announcement


EDITORIAL – Mountain Movers and Shakers announced Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton will be their featured speaker at the group’s weekly meeting, Sept. 27. The agenda follows the sheriff’s proclamation before the Towns County Republican Party last week, stating intent to seek re-election in 2020.

If the public’s initial response to the elected official’s announcement is any indication of an approval rating, Clinton’s campaign could prove to be a challenge.

“Perhaps (Sheriff Clinton) will fill us in on the events and expected traffic for the next few months,” Mark Wolchko, a spokesman for Mountain Movers and Shakers, predicted in a press release. “Maybe he will enlighten us about the latest CLEA class. Possibly he will let us know about equipment upgrades in the sheriff’s department. Or maybe he will give us the lowdown on the next appearance of The Chris Clinton Band.”

CLEA, an acronym for the Citizen Law Enforcement Academy, consists primarily of “move-in” retirees whom Sheriff Clinton has referred to as personal “lobbyists” in the past. The group additionally serves as charity fund raisers and security staff at local events, such as concerts at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds.

The majority of Mountain Movers and Shakers’ active participants are CLEA alumni.

Sheriff Clinton shined a spotlight on CLEA during his GOP campaign announcement Thursday evening at the Towns County Civic Center.

“How many folks here have been through CLEA? Do you mind raising your hands? Every group I go to in the county, everywhere we go, I got people sitting in the group that’s been through the citizen law enforcement academy,” Clinton said. “These volunteers, by the end of the year, we hit about 2,000 hours, or about what would amount to me having to ask our commissioner for the $51,000, if we were going to do it ourselves, is being done by volunteers because we have men and women who believe in what we’re doing at the sheriff’s office.”

Should Clinton choose to promote his band at Friday’s meeting, however, citizen feedback could prove less than favorable.


Sheriff Clinton performing on town square in July 2018.

Widespread disapproval of The Chris Clinton Band’s schedule was brought to FetchYourNews’ attention in relation to the 2017 “Great American Eclipse,” an event that was anticipated by Clinton to draw thousands of solar enthusiasts to the Towns County area. Sheriff Clinton, who performs with his wife in the now two-man band, opted to host a concert at a local establishment during the highly publicized event. Members of the Towns County Homeowners’ Association – since renamed the Towns County Civic Association – along with numerous first responders, voiced stern criticism toward Clinton’s priorities.

Chris Clinton - Sheriff

Promotion for the Chris Clinton Band’s 2017 eclipse event.

Scrutiny later emerged in July 2018, following a band performance that corresponded with a deputy missing in action, along with a county inmate, during a wilderness search for alleged human remains near Brasstown Bald.

Public comments concerning the Clintons’ “small business” and the sheriff’s elected performance continue to appear on social media in response to the official’s recent bid for re-election.

Click to read comments and view reactions on original post.

While no contenders for the Office of the Sheriff have entered the race at this time, challengers are expected to announce candidacy in coming weeks.

Sheriff Clinton is scheduled to address Mountain Movers and Shakers this Friday at 8 a.m. at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee.

Meetings are open to the public.

Sheriff Clinton Archives

Feature Image: Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton draws tickets for door prizes at Thursday’s GOP meeting.

Homeland Security expert invited to address Mountain Movers and Shakers

Dr. W. George Gaines

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Dr. W. George Gaines, Director of Open Enrollment at Israel Military Industries (IMI) Florida Academy for Advanced Homeland Security, is scheduled to address the Mountain Movers & Shakers Friday, Aug. 16, at 8 a.m. at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee. Meetings are open to the public.

“The only way to stop a bad guy with a gun is a good guy with a gun. Caveat: Good guys need to be trained to use those guns,” Mark Wolchko, a spokesman for Mountain Movers & Shakers, said. “(Gaines) will speak to us about how Israeli Training is having an impact on U.S. law enforcement and civilians.”

IMI Florida Academy is an affiliate of Israel’s IMI Systems Advanced Homeland Security Academy, recognized worldwide as the leading provider of Homeland Security for integrated training solutions to combat terrorism.

Established in 1999 by veterans of the Israeli security forces, IMI Academy is a subsidiary of Israel Military Industries Ltd., a government-owned company. Like its parent, IMI Florida Academy offers advanced training to law enforcement, military, and security industry professionals by enhancing the human factor through methods and skills derived from the Israeli Military and Homeland Security Experience. IMI Florida Academy offers state-of-the-art training to law enforcement through NCJA.

According to the Jewish Virtual Library, fifteen members of U.S. Security agencies and police departments travelled to Israel in September 2015 to engage in counter-terrorism training sessions, led by Israeli counter-terrorism officers. The trip was sponsored by the Anti-Defamation League, and according to the organization’s director, the participants, “learn[ed] lessons from Israel in terms of tactics and strategies and the evolution of terrorism.” Officials hailing from the U.S. Marshalls Service, U.S. Customs and Immigration Enforcement, and the International Association of Chiefs of Police, as well as the Chicago, Las Vegas, Austin, Seattle, Oakland and Miami-Dade police departments, participated in this training exercise. A diverse group of 52 law enforcement officers from 12 U.S. states visited Israel and participated in joing training sessions with their Israeli counterparts during September 2017.  This program, known as the Police Unity Tour, has been held periodically since 1997.

Dr. Gaines holds an impressive list of additional creditials, including:

  • American Red Cross
    • Adult First Aid, CPR, AED #0Y14MN
  • NRA Credentials #190369292
    • Certified Home Firearm Safety Instructor
    • Certified Chief Range Safety Officer
    • Certified Refuse To Be A Victim® Instructor
    • Recruiter #XI030621
    • Personal & Professional Instructor Liability Insurance # 1210024043
  • State Credentials #190369292
    • Florida Concealed Weapon or Firearm License #WX1237800
    • Florida-Approved CCW Instructor FL s. 790.06
    • North Carolina Concealed Pistol Permit #1141268
    • North Carolina Justice Academy Certified CCP Instructor #0081-6013
  • USCCA Credentials #190369292
    • Certified Instructor
    • Certified Training Counselor
    • Certified Women’s Handgun & Self-Defense Fundamentals
  • US Gun Class Certified Instructor

Memberships & Honors

  • Chatuge Gun Club Member
  • Florida Carry Sustaining Member
  • Florida Firearms Academy Member
  • International Association of Law Enforcement Firearms Instructors Active Member
  • Mountain Rod & Gun Club Member
  • NRA Life & Endowment Member
  • NRA Golden Eagles Member
  • NRA National Patriots Medal
  • Union County Gun Club Member
  • USCCA Platinum Member

Firearms Experience

  • First Firearm, .22LR Mossberg bolt action rifle, Age 14
  • Carried Firearm Since 1968
  • Competitive NRA Bullseye Shooter
  • NRA Pistol Marksmanship Simulator Course
  • Florida Firearms Academy, Rapid Draw Class
  • FrontSight (Nevada) Defensive Handgun Course
  • Stopping Active Threats – The Israeli Experience, Honors Graduate
  • IMI Florida Academy Seminars, Chief Range Safety Officer

Formal Education

  • B.A., University of Alabama, 1965
  • M.A., Atlanta University, 1969
  • Ed.D., University of Georgia, 1971

Previous Teaching Experience

  • Florida, Georgia Secondary Public Schools, 1965 – 1969
  • University of Georgia, Teaching Assistant, 1969 – 1971
  • University of Georgia, Supervisor of Student Teachers, 1969 – 1971
  • University of New Orleans, Associate Professor of Education, 1971 – 1976
  • Louisiana State University Medical Center, Coordinator of Instructional Services, 1973 – 1976
  • Conducted Professional Educator Workshops at Numerous Colleges & Universities, 1976 – 1982
  • Directed and Mentored Junior Staff in Private Industry, 1983 – 2013
  • University of Florida, College of Business, Visiting Professor, 2011 – 2013
  • University of Central Florida, College of Business, Visiting Lecturer, 2012 – 2015

Local support groups offer hope to those suffering from grief

Community, News
Griefshare - Blairsville

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The loss of a loved one is an experience that many people will encounter at some point in their life, and GriefShare is a weekly support group designed to help those in mourning better cope with what may be delibitating pain. Larry Tomlinson and George Dinsmore, Blairsville-based facilitators who were once participants in the faith-based program, shared information with the Mountain Movers & Shakers on the support group’s healing mission. GriefShare offers 14 weekly meetings with the final session devoted to a celebration of the lost loved one’s life.

Larry Tomlinson

Larry Tomlinson of GriefShare

Each meeting involves a three-tiered approach in dealing with the loss associated with the death of a loved one: a counselor-conducted video seminar, workbook studies, and support group discussions. “What you tell us in GriefShare stays there,” Tomlinson assured, adding that family members that jointly attend the program are encouraged to split into separate groups in order to allow each individual to open up freely. “We have found through experience that it’s better to separate family members.”

Dinsmore, who fondly recalled his “prepper” partnership with his late-wife, shared the emotional trauma and mental anguish that he experienced after losing his spouse to cancer. “We were prepared for everything. I was ready for everything, and then my wife died…I was so deep in the pit that I couldn’t function…Grief rewires your brain,” Dinsmore expressed. “I’m so committed to GriefShare and what it did for me.” Dinsmore attended two GriefShare series after the death of his wife, and has served as a support facilitator through 10 following seasons.

george Dinsmore

George Dinsmore of GriefShare

The initial 14-week GriefShare meeting will be held Sunday, Aug. 11, from 3:00-5:00 pm, at the First Baptist Church Ministry Center, Suite C, in Blairsville. For additional information, dial 706-745-2469.

McC0nnell Baptist Church in Hiawassee is scheduled to begin the fall series of GriefShare Thursday, Aug. 27, from 10 am to noon.

Participants are welcome to interchange locations if scheduling conflicts arise. Additional information on the GriefShare program is available by clicking this link.


Related archive:

‘DivorceCare’ support group leader to speak at Sundance Grill


Jerry Taylor leads Movers and Shakers on a historical Towns County journey

Community, News
Jerry Taylor
Towns County quilt

A replica of Towns County’s sesquicentennial quilt

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – On Friday, June 21, Historian Jerry Taylor led the Mountain Movers and Shakers on a journey through Towns County’s heritage, as depicted on an artistic quilt designed to wind its path from past to present.
The 2006 quilt was woven in honor of Towns County’s 150 anniversary by Misty Mountain Quilters Guild, and it is currently displayed as a teaching tool for educators at Towns County Elementary School. Taylor began the presentation by explaining that the golden thread that weaves its way around the quilt represents the Unicoi Turnpike which once served as a trade route through Cherokee territory.

The historian directed the group’s attention to the patches within the quilt, beginning with the arrival of newcomers who sought fabled wealth through gold mining, the forced removal of the Cherokee tribe on the infamous Trail of Tears, the formation of Towns as a county entity, the turmoil of the “un-Civil” War, the establishment of the area’s oldest chapel – Macedonia Baptist Church -and the origins of education. The voyage continued with the history of the logging industry which stripped virgin forests near Tate City bare, the introduction of information through a local printing press, the trade of illicit moonshine, the arrival of the Appalachian Trail, and the creation of Lake Chatuge through the Tennessee Valley Authority. The tale continued with the construction of the county’s premiere hospital, the foundation of Brasstown Bald as a state park, and lastly, the influx of settlers during the modern age of communication. The blazing, seven-pointed star represents the Cherokee clans, Taylor said, and the four corners of the quilt honor the Appalachian tradition of quilting itself.

Taylor shared colorful stories of families of old along the way, entertaining listeners with his range of knowledge. Mountain Movers and Shakers gather each Friday at 8 a.m. at Sundance Grill. Community speakers inform the open public on a variety of topics of interest.

Mountain Movers and Shakers feature local animal advocate groups

Movers and Shakers

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Several local animal groups attended the Mountain Movers and Shakers forum at Sundance Grill on Friday, March 22, to shine a spotlight on the importance of their combined mission in the area. Joan Crothers, a devoted volunteer involved in numerous community organizations, opened the meeting by explaining the aim of Operation PUP, and acronym for Prevent Unwanted Pets. Operation PUP was founded in 1999 as a non-profit program. “The kindest way to end overpopulation is to spay and neuter,” Crothers said, offering information on the project. Operation PUP promotes humane education and good animal stewardship with primary focus on spay and neuter, bringing together local governments, citizens, educators, vetenarians, businesses, and rescue groups as a community coalition to solve the overpopulation of cats and dogs.

In addition, the organization participated in 2012 FEMA-approved animal disaster training to prepare for emergency evacuations, and a gymnasium at Towns County Schools was designated as a shelter should disaster occur. “Each year we have fundraisers. We’ve had rummage sales in the garden club building. We sell flowers for Mother’s Day and then in the fall, we sell mums on the square, and we’ve included this year, well, three years now, a rabies clinic.” Crothers said that the $10 reduced-cost clinic vaccinated 51 animals during the first year, adding a dire need for additional volunteers and donations to advance the project.

Operation PUP Treasurer Sandy Hazen informed that the group recently joined forces with Puppy Patch Thrift Store in Hayesville, NC, to increase funding for pet owners who cannot afford the spay or neuter cost. “From 2010, I have counted through the records, we have spayed or neutered more than 660 cats, and more than 142 dogs,” Hazen said. The treasurer informed that between $3000 to $5000 per year is applied toward the mission. “Towns County Commissioner Bradshaw gives us $750 each year to continue our spaying and neutering tasks.” With the help of PUP volunteer Lucille Heil, Hazel demonstrated a humane, metal trap used to capture feral cats in order to transport them to clinics for steriliztion. Kittens are adopted to loving homes, and unadaptable cats are returned to their colonies once spayed or neutered. Information on Operation PUP is available by dialing 888-496-2387.Towns County pets

Next to speak was Sue Scott, a cat lover who provides food and care for feral felines. For the past 13 years, Scott has been involved in cat rescue, and the Hiawassee resident currently self-funds meals for eight feral cat colonies throughout Towns County. Scott shared that she visits the locales, which currently consist of a total of 26 cats, twice a day. Scott spends over $535 of her own funds each month to provide canned and dry food for the felines. Scott explained that cats are notoriously picky eaters, noting that canned food is more nutritious for the animals, while stressing the goal of keeping the felines happy and healthy. Scott asked for the community’s help in supporting the mighty mission. The cats have acquired a preference for canned Friskies Tasty Treasures bits with gravy pate and dry Kit n’ Kaboodle, Scott said, and donations are greatly welcomed. Drop-off locations include Chatuge Animal Hospital, Hiawassee Animal Hospital, and the Hiawassee library branch. In addition, food can be purchased at Fred’s in Hiawassee. Store management will hold the fare for Scott to pick-up and deliver.

Terry Lynn Marshall offered information on the Whiskers Project which aims to spay and neuter feral cats. Information on the Blairsville-based organization can be found at Lucky Cat Thrift Store in Blairsville provides financial assistance to the non-profit Whiskers Project. Since 2002, over 2,00 feral and stray cats in Union and surrounding counties have benefitted from the project. Left unchecked, two breeding cats and their offspring can produce 80,399,290 felines if none are spayed or neutered.

Residents interested in kitten rescue and adoption can contact Nancy Ede of Wholly Cats in Blairsville at 706-835-1828.

Carl Haines, a tireless trap-and-release volunteer who donates countless hours to feeding and caring for feral felines in the area, was scheduled to speak. Haines was unabled to attend due to a infection from an unfortunate cat bite injury. Bill Hall of Katz and Dawgs was absent due to transporting dogs for long-distance adoption. Gig Wilkowsky, a volunteer who transports dogs to New Jersey, shared the satisfaction of uniting canines with loving owners.

The animal advocates humbly asked for the community’s help in the form of time or monetary donations to continue their honorable missions.

Canine trainer explains profession to Movers and Shakers

dog training - Young Harris

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Ed Abel, a Young Harris canine trainer, was the featured guest at this week’s Mountain Movers and Shakers meeting, May 10, at Sundance Grill. Abel shared information on his profession, a career that began in the military, followed by law enforcement and defense contracting. The 40-year veteran canine trainer explained that prior to forming the non-profit organization, Working Dogs Support Nework, his job entailed priming dogs to sniff bombs and landmines in battle zones.

Ed Abel

Ed Abel

Abel said that his goal in forming the organization, in conjuntion with local veternarian Dr. Hilty Burr, was based on the desire to train canines for law enforcement and first responders.  The dogs are taught to trace bombs, track individuals, detect drugs, and locate cadavers. The trainer said that it typically takes six-to-eight weeks to train the canine, followed by additional time spent in the field, teamed with the handler. In addition, Abel explained that alternate training allows those in need of a service dog to regain their independence. Abel said that he hopes others will join in support by contributing to the cause.

P.A.W.S. Dog Training and K-9 Behavior Center in Young Harris caters to pet owners in need of obedience, puppy training, behavior solving, and personal protection. The company provides K-9 consultations, seminars, and training courses to law enforcement and security agencies worldwide. Abel informed that P.A.W.S. offers free advice to individuals who are considering becoming dog owners as to which breed may best suit their lifestyle.

For additional information on Working Dogs Support Network or P.A.W.S. Dog Training and K-9 Behavior Center, contact Ed Abel at 706-716-9990 or toll-free at 1-888-840-3647.

Feature Photo: Image from P.A.W.S. Dog Training and K-9 Behavior Center/Facebook

Cop turned professor recounts angelic rescue after crash

Featured Stories

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Near-death experiences have a way of directing lives toward a destiny that was unknown prior to the encounter, and coupled with a spiritual revelation, the results can be profound. That proved to be the case for Dr. Anthony Sirianni. For the first time in 16 years, the criminal justice professor from North Georgia Technical College publicly shared his story of a second chance at life, at the hands of an angel, with the Mountain Movers and Shakers, Friday, May 3, 2019.

Anthony Sirianni

Dr. Anthony Sirianni

Dr. Sirianni moved to sunny Sarasota at the age of 18 by a test a faith. The now-professor told the story of how he closed his happy-go-lucky eyes and pressed a push pin toward a map of Florida, soon to set path on a journey far from home. Anthony knew from the tender age of six what he wanted to become some day; a police officer, a knowing built from a childhood experience when a small town chief helped the lost and fearful boy find his way home. Anthony’s 28 year career in law enforcement began as a corrections officer at the Sarasota County Detention Center, graduating to patrolling the streets of Florida’s west coast at the age of 21. Life was good, and life pressed on.

On the evening of Feb. 8, 2003, at two minutes before midnight, however, the K-9 officer’s life was forever changed. Anthony was driving his patrol vehicle, during what he thought would be a routine shift, when he saw headlights quickly approaching in his lane of traffic. The head-on collision was so fierce that the engine block of his assigned Chevrolet Tahoe was launched through the windshield. The intoxicated driver of the oncoming vehicle had suffered the repercussions of her third DUI.

As Professor Sirianni recounted what followed, the audience at Sundance Grill sat spellbound by his emotive words. Though physically unconcious, Anthony vividly recalled an unseen force taking hold of his shoulders, pulling him from the mangled wreckage, while hearing the phrase, “It’s not time.” The officer was laid to rest by the spirit in a patch of nearby bushes, and witnessed the arrival of first responders. Firefighters hung their heads, looking down upon his battered body in sorrow, telling one another that there was no way that the K-9 officer could possibly survive. “I wasn’t ejected,” Tony explained, stiffling sentiment. “How did I get out of the car?”

Anthony’s first thoughts were of his canine, and throughout the out-of body experience, the officer recalled pleading with medical crews to tend to his beloved dog, Amazingly, Anthony’s partner suffered but a fractured tail. Anthony was less fortunate, however, enduring months of painful surgeries to heal his shattered bones. Throughout his recovery, Anthony knew with doubt that his life had been spared to serve a greater purpose, and he knew he must venture on. In 2015, the officer retired from active law enforcement, attended college,  and earned an eventual doctorate’s degree. The cop turned criminal justice professor believes, heart and soul, that his life was “saved to touch lives.” Anthony recounted an example of a drug addicted woman who once begged for treatment as he served as a narcotic sergeant, prior to retirement. The officer answered the addict’s plea for change, and reported that the woman successfully turned her life around, passing forward the grace that she was granted.

Dr. Sirianni explained that his newfound purpose exceeded law enforcement and teaching criminal justice, however. “We’re here to care for each other. It’s beyond partisanship. It’s beyond politics,” the professor confided. Anthony concluded his talk by adding that police officers are stigmatized as tough and unwilling to share their vunerable sides with all but their inner circle. While Anthony struggled to repress rightful emotion while expressing his experience, the professor relayed that it was a story that needed to be told.

Questions from the attentive group followed, with one guest asking what could be done to lessen the negative press associated with law enforcement officers in this day and age. The teacher replied in part, “There’s so much (good) that doesn’t make the paper.”

The collective mood was measurable as the weekly meeting adjourned, with guests commenting to one another on how fascinating the subject matter had been. Friends could be overheard discussing their own past encounters with angels. One thing is for certain, lives were altered that May morning as a result of hearing Anthony’s truth

Iwo Jima veteran encourages visit to local memorial site

Community, News
Bud Johnson Iwo Jima

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Retired Navy Veteran Clarence “Bud” Johnson was invited to speak with the Mountain Movers and Shakers Friday, June 28, and the 97-years-young World War 2 veteran used the opportunity to encourage visits to the one-of-a-kind Iwo Jima memorial at Foster Park in Young Harris, adjacent to Towns County Recreation and Conference Center.

The sculpture, which was officially dedicated to all veterans Nov. 11, 2015, deplicts the 1945 raising of the American flag upon Mount Suribachi by five United States Marines and a Navy Corpsman during the bloody battle of Iwo Jima. The unique memorial was created by sculptor Al Garnto, a kinetic artist, from Blairsville, GA. The exhibit was commissioned by former Towns County Commissioner Bill Kendall Sept. 11, 2015.

Towns County Iwo Jima

Towns County’s Iwo Jima sculpture at Foster Park in Young Harris

“If you’re a veteran, no matter when you served or where you served, you belong here, and you deserve to be respected by the people around you,” Johnson said. Johnson, a well-loved community hero,  was joined by Veterans Field Servive Officer Eddie Fontaine who spoke on topics related to Georgia’s Department of Veterans Services.

Additionally, Johnson shared information on Towns County’s memorial wall, located east of Hiawassee near Towns County Schools, and informed the group that the families of all honorably discharged veterans residing in Towns County, native or otherwise, are welcome to submit their departed loved one’s name to the local Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 4807 for memorialized inscription. The cost to engrave the monument is $65, and new names are dedicated each fall.




Mountain Movers and Shakers to host animal rescue groups

Press Release, Upcoming Events
Operation PUP
There are plenty of Animals in Towns County. Horses, Cows and Chickens are everywhere, so are Deer, and, to a lesser extent, Bears. And also everywhere are feral Cats and Dogs. This Friday, March 22, we welcome to the Sundance Grill Ms. Joan Crothers, President of PUP (Prevent Unwanted Pets), and Sandy Hazen, Treasurer. They will be speaking on the kindest way to end the overpopulation problem of dogs and cats in Towns County.  PUP helps the people of Towns County with low-cost spaying and neutering.  Other animal rescuers who will be speaking are Bill Hall with Katz N Dawgs Helping HandsCarl Haines with Lucky Cats Rescue and Sue Scott, Nancy Ede with Wholly Cats, and Terry Lynne Marshall with Whiskers ProjectThese dedicated animal lovers will be informing the community of their roles in saving homeless, hungry, and helpless animals. Come join us at 8am this Friday to learn how to get involved.
Do you belong to a local Organization or are you an Elected Official with information that affects our Community? Then why not join us and fill us in on what’s going on! Everyone is invited to come hear what our weekly Guest Speakers have to say, and we have always had a few minutes for impromptu Speakers with pertinent information. Everyone is invited for Conversation, Information and Breakfast with the Mountain Movers and Shakers. Our Non-Partisan Group meets at 8 am every Friday at The Sundance Grill, a great place to meet, and the food is really good and reasonably priced. So come join us… You are sure to find Interesting Speakers, Championship Caliber Youth, and a fine group of Friendly Mountain Folk!

‘DivorceCare’ support group leader to speak at Sundance Grill

Community, News
Nancy Rowland - Divorce Care

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- FetchYourNews (FYN) spoke with Nancy Rowland, a group leader with the organization DivorceCare, Wednesday, July 10, ahead of Rowland’s scheduled presentation at Mountain Movers and Shakers this Friday. Rowland has volunteered as a support coach with the non-profit support group for the past eight years, and spoke from experience, describing the insurmountable heartache that stemmed from the dissolution of her 20 year marriage. “It was literally the hardest thing I ever went through,” Rowland confided.

DivorceCare, which is affiliated with Grief Share, began operating locally two years ago, and focuses on healing the trauma associated with divorce. The 13-week session, held each spring and fall, begins Wednesday, Aug. 28, from 6-8 p.m. at the Hayesville First United Methodist Church Sweetwater Campus in Clay County, North Carolina.

“‘Gray divorce’ is the newest trend. Couples are divorcing at a later age in life,” Rowland said, and many of the divorces involve second or third marriages. For those over 50, the rate of divorce for those who are in remarriages is two-and-a-half times higher those in first marriages, often the result of discord from blended families. “We offer hope. The classes deal with issues such as lonliness, depression, children, finances, and the emotions involved with the life changing experience.” The courses consist of a tri-fold of workbook studies, a video presentation, and a discussion session, allowing networking opportunities between participants. Rowland’s second husband, Jay, also a divorcee, also facilitates the DivorceCare group. A $20 fee is requested for the cost of the workbook, although scholarships are available.

Rowland will address the Mountain Movers and Shakers Friday, July 12, at 8 a.m. at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee. The meeting is open to the public. Additional information on DivorceCare is available online.

Mountain Movers and Shakers learn the history and etiquette of the American Flag

Mountain Movers and Shakers

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Veterans of Foreign Wars Quartermaster Brandy Creel, a United States Air Force veteran of 20-plus years, versed Mountain Movers and Shakers on the history and etiquette of the American flag, Friday, June 14, at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee. Creel displayed an array of flag-themed items throughout the presentation. The Desert Storm veteran shared information on the inception of the American flag, along with proper protocol for displaying and disposing of Old Glory. Creel expressed desire to teach school students about the American flag annually on May 1, which is known as Loyalty Day, as classes are not in session on Flag Day.

Brandy Creel

Brandy Creel, speaking to the Mountain Movers & Shakers

On June 14, 1777, the Continental Congress passed an act establishing an official flag for the new nation. The resolution stated: “Resolved, that the flag of the United States be thirteen stripes, alternate red and white; that the union be thirteen stars, white in a blue field, representing a new constellation.”

The Fourth of July was traditionally celebrated as America’s birthday, explains, but the idea of an annual day specifically celebrating the flag is believed to have first originated in 1885. BJ Cigrand, a schoolteacher, arranged for the pupils in the Fredonia, Wisconsin Public School, District 6, to observe June 14 (the 108th anniversary of the official adoption of The Stars and Stripes) as ‘Flag Birthday’. In numerous magazines and newspaper articles and public addresses over the following years, Cigrand continued to enthusiastically advocate the observance of June 14 as ‘Flag Birthday’, or ‘Flag Day’.



As a symbol of the country and its people, the flag should be treated with respect and be honored when on display. In order to treat the flag with the dignity it deserves, the following display guidelines are recommended.


  • When the flag is hung vertically on a wall, window, or door, the Union (blue section) should be to the observer’s left. When the flag is hung either horizontally or vertically against a wall, the Union should be to the observer’s left.
  • In a procession, the American flag should be to the right of any other flag or, if in a line of other flags, in front of the center of that line.
  • When displayed from a staff projecting from a building, the union should be at the peak of the staff.
  • When the flag is displayed otherwise than by being flown from a staff, it should be displayed flat, whether indoors or out; or so suspended that its folds fall as freely as though the flag were staffed.
  • When displayed over a street, the flag should be suspended vertically with the union to the north in an east and west street, or to the east in a north and south street.
  • On a platform, the flag should be above and behind the speaker, with the union uppermost and to the observer’s left.
  • When displayed from a staff in a church or auditorium, the flag should occupy the position of honor and be placed at the speaker’s right as he faces the audience.
  • When the flag is used to cover a casket, the union should be at the head and over the left shoulder.


  • The flag should not be displayed on a float except from a staff, nor draped over the hood, top, sides, or back of a vehicle.
  • When the flag is displayed on a vehicle, the staff should be fixed firmly to the chassis.


  • In the United States, no other flag should be placed above the American flag or, if they are to be placed on the same level, to the right of the American flag.
  • The United Nations flag may not be displayed above or in a position of superior prominence to the United States flag except at United Nations Headquarters.
  • The flag, when displayed with another against a wall—both from crossed staffs—should be on the right (the flag’s own right), and its staff should be in front of the other staff.
  • The American flag should be at the center and the highest point when displayed with a group of state flags.
  • When flags of states, cities, etc., are flown on the same halyard, the American flag should be at the peak.
  • When flags of two or more nations are displayed, they are to be flown from separate staffs of the same height, and the American flag should be hoisted first and lowered last.



The flag and its likeness should be treated with respect. Its image should not be cheapened or tarnished by improper use.

  • The flag should not be dipped to any person or thing, including government officials—even the President.
  • The flag should never be displayed with the union (stars) down, unless as a signal of dire distress.
  • The flag should never touch anything beneath it, such as the ground, the floor, water, or merchandise.
  • The flag should never be carried flat or horizontally, but always aloft and free.
  • The flag should never be fastened, displayed, used, or stored so that it might be easily torn, soiled, or damaged in any way.
  • The flag should never be used as covering for a ceiling.
  • The flag should never have anything placed on it.
  • The flag should never be used for any advertising purpose, nor embroidered on cushions or handkerchiefs, printed on paper napkins or boxes, nor used as any portion of a costume.


  • When the flag is in such condition that it is no longer a fitting emblem, it should be destroyed in a dignified and ceremonious fashion, preferably by burning.
  • Most American Legion posts will conduct an annual ceremony, often on Flag Day (June 14) to retire old or worn flags; contact your local chapter if you are not able to dispose of the flag yourself. You could also ask your local Boy Scouts or Girl Scouts troops about retiring your flag.

Drug court participants to share stories of struggle and success

News, Upcoming Events

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Drug abuse is an epidemic in the United States and one would be hard pressed to find someone who hasn’t been affected, directly or indirectly, by addiction.

Barbara Honaker, coordinator of North Enotah Drug Court, will return to Mountain Movers and Shakers Jan. 22, this time accompanied by two program participants who will share their journey through the system.

North Enotah Drug Court

North Enotah Drug Court Coordinator Barbara Honaker

Honaker, an ordained minister of counseling, has directed the drug court program since 2014. “She counsels the most troubled of our youth…,” a spokesman for Movers and Shakers explained.

In addition, Towns County Sheriff’s Office Lieutenant John McCoy is scheduled to address the forum. McCoy is assigned to assist North Enotah Drug Court.

On a different note, also invited to speak is Georgia Occupational Leadership award winner Devin Deshazar. “This remarkable young man is using his technical education in Criminal Justice from the Blairsville campus to pursue his goal of becoming a Georgia State Trooper. He is already serving as a firefighter in Toccoa.”

Devin Deshazar

Georgia Occupational Leadership award winner Devin Deshazar

Mountain Movers and Shakers meet at 8 a.m. each Friday at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee. There are no membership requirements or dues. The meetings are open to the public.


Enotah CASA to host Dancing with the North Georgia Stars

News, Upcoming Events
Dancing North GA Stars

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Enotah Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) Chairman Liz Ruf joined the Mountain Movers and Shakers on Friday, Oct. 26, to promote the annual Dancing with the North Georgia Stars fundraising event, scheduled for the evening of Saturday, Nov. 3, at the Union County Schools Performing Arts Center in Blairsville.

The event is sponsored by United Community Bank.

Funds raised will benefit the Enotah CASA program with the training and management of additional volunteers to serve as a consistent adult figure, and a voice for the vulnerable children, within the foster care system of Towns, Union, Lumpkin, and White counties.

“CASA is central to fulfilling society’s most fundamental obligation by making sure a qualified, compassionate adult will fight for and protect a child’s right to be safe, to be treated with dignity and respect, and to learn and grow in the security of a loving family,” the CASA website explains.Dancing North Georgia Stars

Each North Georgia Star will be paired with a professional or semi-professional dancer from the region to present a variety of dancing genres, from modern jazz to classical ballroom. Each team will perform choreographed dance routines before a live audience.

Each dollar earned by a dancer equals one vote. Fans can vote for their favorite celebrity couple through Nov. 3, until  11:30 a.m. online, and at the event.

Donate to a favorite couple using the links listed below.

A People’s Choice Award will be presented to the couple who raises the most funds.

Dance teams will be judged the night of the competition on costume, choreography & technical performance by an impartial three judge panel. The winning dance team will be awarded the Mirror Ball trophy.

Tickets for the event are available on the Enotah CASA website.

The 2018 dancing duos are as follows:

#1: Barbara Wheatley & Bruce Lazarus

#2: Angie Hayes & Aly Sanchez

#3: Laurel Adams & Dr. Samuel L. Church

#4: Kristin Kalwara & Bill Jones

#5: Sandi Entwistle & Doug Smith

#6: Dawn Saraney & Keith Christensen

#7: Angela Puleo & Darren Harper

#8: Pat Griffin & Cherie Martin

#9: Lynn Hayes & Pat McCallen

#10: Vickie Levy & Roberto Romero

Advocacy for a litter-free county continues

Community, News
Liza Strub

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Liza Strub and her husband, Chuck Coxe, spoke to a full house of Mountain Movers and Shakers at Sundance Grill on Friday, Jan. 25, continuing to advocate for a litter-free county. Strub, a Towns County resident who publicly jumped onboard the clean-up effort last summer, speaking out at a county meeting, is quickly proving grit and determination in advancing the cause.

In past weeks, Strub has made several speaking appearances, including a presentation before the Towns County Civic Association, and a second visit to the county commission.

Prior to Strub and Coxe’s introduction, Grace Howard of Hamilton Gardens provided the history of litter control endeavors in the area in which she has been an active, appreciated participant.

It was noted during the meeting that the annual Clean Sweep Week event will be held for two consecutive weeks, rather than one, each spring. Strub informed that she will be working with students enrolled in the local C.H.A.M.P.S. program, encouraging investment in litter control from civic-minded youths, as well as motivating other area organizations through education.

Earth Day

Clean Sweep Week coincides with Earth Day

Strub offered the following tips on how citizens can make a difference:

  • Set an example for children, family, friends, neighbors, visitors, and community.
  • Secure your load and sweep out your truck bed.
  • Use a litter bag and ashtray in your car and clean out your vehicle when you stop for gas.
  • Keep gloves and bags in your car and pick up trash when you see it.
  • When you take a walk and see trash, pick it up.
  • Adopt a road, spot, or beach in your neighborhood. Just an hour a week of picking up trash sets an example.
  • Pick up after your dog.
  • Before lighting up, identify where to dispose of cigarette butts when finished smoking.
  • Spit containers for chew belong in the trash, not on the roadways.
  • Recycle and compost.
  • Make sure that trash cans have securely fastened lids or use bungee cords to hold them in place.
  • Keep a litter bag in your boat and use it.
  • Keep the appearance of your home or business clean and neat.
  • Business owners should provide trash receptacles in convenient locations.
  • Get involved and volunteer in events such as Clean Sweep Week, Lake Chatuge Clean-up, Adopt-a-Road, or educational programs.
  • Start a litter awareness program at your church, civic, or volunteer organization.


Feature Photo: Liza Strub and Chuck Coxe at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee


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