Sheriff candidate says improved patrol is needed

Election, News
Kenneth Ode Henderson

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Young Harris Police Chief Kenneth “Ode” Henderson, a contender for Towns County sheriff, spoke with the Mountain Movers and Shakers, Friday, Jan. 31. at Sundance Grill. Henderson has served as a law enforcement officer for 35 years, currently serving as chief of police at Young Harris College and as an officer with the City of McCaysville.

Henderson touched on several issues during the morning meeting, which was brimming to near-capacity with constituents.

“The State of Georgia says that I need 20 hours of training a year to keep my certification,” Henderson began. “I don’t think that’s enough. I think our officers need more training. I think nothing less than 40 (hours), if not more. I think that our officers need more training.” Henderson said that a variety of resources, as well as low-to-no cost training, is available to law enforcement officers through the State.

“Drugs will be my number one priority. All crime is a priority, but drugs are something we’ve got to address,” the Young Harris police chief stated, drawing applause from the crowd. Henderson added that an in-house drug agent is needed within the department.

Henderson fielded several questions from the Mountain Movers and Shakers, including one from Shirley Clinton, the mother of and executive secretary to retiring Sheriff Chris Clinton. “I think this is the best sheriff’s office we’ve ever had, so what would you do to improve on what’s already there, and where would you get the funds to do it?” Clinton asked the candidate.

Jim Couch - sheriff's election

Towns County Sheriff’s Office Executive Secretary Shirley Clinton with Road Patrol Captain Jim Couch, a candidate for sheriff.

“Well, I think we have to expand on that,” Henderson responded. “I think we have a good sheriff’s department, and like I said, I’m not here to point fingers at anybody, but I think as far as expanding on that, we have to also keep in mind our budget. We’ve got to stay within that budget, and I think that working with our commissioner, we keep within our budget, and you know, we move along, making sure we’re getting all the professional training that we can get, and keeping our guys as best as we can with training,”

Henderson emphasized the importance of cooperating with outside law enforcement agencies and working toward involvement with the community. The sheriff’s contender said that he plans to implement a cadet program for youth if elected. More so, Henderson included that he would compile a list of elderly residents to ensure their well-being by checking on them daily. “If we call and you don’t answer, we’re going to be up there to see why you didn’t answer,” Henderson assured.

Henderson raised the topic of patrol duties within the sheriff’s office.

“I’ve been out on the trail and talking to people. I’ve actually had people tell me that they have not seen a law car in their community in a year. I’ve had several people tell me that on Gumlog, that they have not seen a car, a law enforcement car in their area in a year. That’s not going to happen, guys,” Henderson said, adding that he will assign patrol units to communities. “And about one day a month, I’m going to try to go out and talk to the citizens and the people and say. ‘Hey, you seeing law cars? If not, it’s gonna change.’ That’s our job. It’s not our job to ride Hiawassee to Young Harris and back again, ok? That’s not doing the job.”

Henderson added that the patrol vehicles would be altered to black and white to increase visibility.

Henderson concluded by assuring the citizens that he supports the Second Amendment. “I will stand with the people of Towns County against anybody that would attempt to take your rights to the Second Amendment away,” the candidate vowed. “I would never, never stand with anybody or law that would go against your Second Amendment.”

Henderson added that if elected, he will strive to make Towns County Sheriff’s Office the best in Georgia. “I will not let you down. I will do the job, and I will do it well, and we will once again have a good sheriff’s department that’s respected.”

Due to time constraints, Mountain Movers and Shakers announced that Henderson would be invited to deliver a future address. Towns County sheriff’s candidates Daren “Bear” Osborn, who spoke at last week’s session, and Jim Couch attended the 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.


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‘DivorceCare’ support group leader to speak at Sundance Grill


‘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.

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

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.


Mountain Marty Party Networking Event Scheduled

Business, Press Release
Marty Party
Marty Party Business Networking Event

Feb. 28, 2019 — 5:30 – 7: 30 p.m. at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee…

Enjoy two free hours of Business Networking, complete with FREE HorD’oeuvres…
FREE Adult Beverage with 50 to 100 Other Like Minded Professionals &
Business Owners Like Yourself…. 
Optional: Join for dinner, following the event at 7:30!  


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

Hayesville Mayor Harry Baughn visits Hiawassee

News, Politics
Mayor Harry Baughn

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Hayesville Mayor Harry Baughn was invited to address the Mountain Movers and Shakers on the morning of Friday, July 13, and the city official cited several similarities between Hayesviile and Hiawassee. Situated north of Towns County, Hayesville is the county seat of Clay County, North Carolina.

Elected in 2013, Baughn is serving his second-term in office, and says he believes he will be able to accomplish his goals within the next three-and-a-half years, with no plans to run for a third-term seat.

“Our towns are comparable,” Baughn began, “We each have our own specialties, and our own wonderful places to be. Hiawassee has Music on the Square one night, and we have Music on the Square another night, so we do have some similar things.”

Baughn said one of his proudest accomplishments since election was the construction of public restrooms. “One of the first things I did after taking office – and it’s probably going to be my legacy – was building a set of public restrooms. That has been a big deal in downtown Hayesville. It is right next door to town hall.” Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales, who did not attend Friday’s forum, voiced ambition for public restrooms at a city council meeting months prior.

Baughn spoke of the importance of “walkability” in small towns, describing the placement of sidewalks in Hayesville, and the necessity of sufficient parking. Baughn said that an additional 24 parking spaces were recently added to downtown Hayesville, and the City of Hayesville partnered with business owners to replace worn awnings on storefronts to make the ambiance more appealing.

“Business development, the other important thing in small town survivalability,” Baughn stated, “We’ve been doing economic development during my administration, and we’ve gotten quite a number of new businesses downtown. If you’ve not been to the Valley River Brewery and Eatery, home of the famous wood-fired brick oven pizza, 15 craft brews – and right now is Wednesday, Wacky Wednesday – that you can get up to five toppings for $14.99, and I highly recommend the Mayor’s Pizza.” The crowd laughed in response.

Baughn continued, listing additional businesses that have opened in Hayesville within the past two years, such as a home décor shop, a children’s’ boutique, a computer repair store, a pet shop, and a tap house. The city official noted that Clay County Chamber of Commerce relocated to downtown Hayesville. Baughn included that a new Italian restaurant opened for business last week, and an additional restaurant and brewery plans to open its doors in August.

Baughn said that Hayesville hopes to gain an updated post office in the near future, which was a recent topic of discussion at a Hiawassee Town Hall meeting, designed for strategic city development planning. Baughn expressed hope of acquiring a recognizable “name brand hotel” in Clay County in order to to draw visitors to his town, claiming that many Hayesviile tourists choose to lodge in Hiawassee.

The mayor concluded by encouraging citizens to visit Clay County’s newly-renovated historic courthouse which towers above Hayesville’s town square. The majestic structure was originally constructed in 1888, and it functioned as the county courthouse until 2007. A ribbon-cutting ceremony is scheduled for 11:00 a.m. on Saturday, July 21.

“In addition to building the bathrooms, one of the things I’m proud of is wrestling (the courthouse) away from the county since they didn’t care about it,” Baughn revealed, “When they abandoned it, they needed to get rid of all of the wood in there because of the deterioration. When they took out the door frames and stuff, they weren’t really careful. I mean, they took sledgehammers, so basically there were round holes in the brick walls where there used to be doors. But at least they were willing. They deeded the courthouse and the square over to the town of Hayesville. It is leased to the CCCRA (Clay County Communities Revitalization Association) so that they could go after grant money.” Baughn explained the toiled effort involved in the restoration of the historic site, singing the praises of those who partook in process.

Hiawassee City Councilwoman Anne Mitchell, and Hiawssee Police Chief Paul Smith attended the Mountain Movers and Shakers meeting, held weekly at Sundance Grill.


Hiawassee hosts back-to-back Moonshine Cruiz-In events

Moonshine Cruiz-In

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Two pit stops occurred in the heart of Hiawassee during the 9th annual Georgia Mountain Moonshine Cruiz-In.

The first took place on the evening of Wednesday, July 11, as a fresh event was introduced to the itinerary:  A “drive-in” movie presentation of the 1978 classic hit, ‘Grease’, starring John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John.

Vehicles from different eras traveled from miles around to rest their engines on Hiawassee Square while their owners enjoyed a night on the town. Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales graciously welcomed newcomers to the event as they arrived, taking their seats among the ever-growing crowd. A senior couple danced to aptly-themed music, entertaining bystanders before the main event began. Towns County High School football players sold beverages to fund the purchase of needed equipment. Towns County Library Branch Manager Debbie Phillips operated an old-fashion popcorn machine, and the smell of a vendor’s hot boiled peanuts tempted guests to snack as they watched the film.

The following day, Thursday, July 12, the owners of antique vehicles, along with appreciative spectators, flocked to the town square to participate in Hiawassee’s second annual Moonshine Cruiz-In Block Party. A parade of classic cars arrived on the square at noon, greeted by upbeat music streamed by “Soundman” Tim Massey. A sudden downpour of rain began to fall in unison as the cars roared in. Attendees sought shelter under the tents provided by United Community Bank, Hiawassee Police Department, and beneath nearby store-front awnings while they waited for the summer storm to pass. The clouds soon cleared, and visitors circled the square, stopping to converse with car owners while ogling a variety of vehicles from days gone by.

Hiawassee Block Party

Unique, antique truck attending the Moonshine Cruiz-In Block Party

“I think it’s great that Hiawassee added (these events) to the line-up,” Jerry Shook, a Habersham County resident and the proud owner of a pristine 1956 Ford Town Sedan, told FetchYourNews, “I attend every year, and it’s a nice to have even more to look forward to.”

Food vendors set up shop along Berrong Street, which was closed to traffic. Local restaurants Monte Alban, Sundance Grill, Asiano’s, and Hawgs & Dawgs BBQ offered a selection of festival-friendly fare. Cub Scouts Troop 407 supplied soft drinks to heat-parched guests. The event ran until 2:00 pm, and the classic cars and trucks proceeded to the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds to regroup for a sixty mile caravan cruise to Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge, Georgia. The crew returned to the fairgrounds that evening to celebrate the Sour Mask Kickoff Bash, overlooking sparking Lake Chatuge.

The rally continued into the weekend at the Georgia Mountain Fairgrounds, featuring music, food, vendors, and of course, plenty of hot rods.

(Feature Photo: Jerry Shook checks under the hood of his 1956 Ford Town Sedan)

Hawgs and Dawgs

Visitors were offered lunch options from five local vendors





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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Hiawassee’s Sundance Grill opens first full-service bar

Community, News
Sundance Grill

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Sundance Grill in Hiawassee celebrated the grand opening of “Hiawassee’s first full-service bar” on the evening of Tuesday, June 3, 2018. Towns County Chamber of Commerce directed the ribbon-cutting ceremony as dozens of pleased patrons cheered.

Sundance Grill

Sundance Bar and Grill

Sundance Grill opened as a restaurant in May of 2017, and the establishment has since expanded in both size and options. Owner Roberto Romero told FetchYourNews that he “fell in love with Hiawassee” while exploring the mountains of Georgia and North Carolina with his now-newlywed, Christine, and after learning that the prime location in Tater Ridge Plaza was available for lease, Romero set forth to create the popular dining establishment.

“Something I noticed was there were no restaurants in the area that served a late breakfast, and people who are vacationing don’t always want to rush out first thing in the morning to eat,” Romero said, explaining that his restaurant offers breakfast until 2:00 p.m. “The people are so friendly, so honest here,” Romero said, “We are happy to live in these beautiful mountains, doing what we love.”

Romero, also the owner of Burg’r Bar in Punta Gorda, Florida, holds 25 years of experience in the restaurant business. Bar Manager Dacey Bragg, a former Florida employee of Romero’s, relocated to Hiawassee to assist in expanding the business. In addition, Pam Clifton from Augusta, Georgia, recently joined the bartending team.

Sundance bar Hiawassee

Sundance bartenders Dacey and Pam

The grand opening featured “Borrowed Time,” a band composed of “three retired guys having a good time.” The genre was a mix of oldies and classic rock, and the overflowing crowd seemingly enjoyed the entertainment.

The Sundance Bar is located in a separate, renovated area of the main restaurant, with seating available at the bar itself, in booths along the wall, and tables situated thoughout the center. A cozy, covered porch entices guests to enjoy pleasant weather during the warmer months.

Two flat-screen televisions are displayed indoors above the well-crafted bar, ready to provide entertainment. A wide variety of beer, both bottled and on-tap, is available for purchase, as well as mixed drinks, and wine. An appetizing bar menu and the full dining menu are ready to serve hungry guests.

Sundance Grill is located at 715 North Main St. in Hiawassee.


Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle Vows to Preserve Georgia’s History

News, Politics
Casey Cagle

Hiawassee, GA – Sanctuary Cities. The Second Amendment. Planned Parenthood.

Towns County residents were not shy in asking Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle his stance on the topics they care about.

Casey Cagle, a contender in Georgia’s 2018 Governor’s race, made an appearance at the Sundance Grill in Hiawassee on Friday morning. The cozy cafe was standing room only by the time the Lieutenant Governor arrived.

Sam Fullerton, Co-Founder of Movers and Shakers, the group which hosted the event, opened with remarks on Towns County’s economy. Fullerton announced the local economy is strong, specifying over 700 homes have been sold in the area since the start of 2017. Fullerton noted tourism has produced a $60 million dollar income, two and a half times the amount in comparison to neighboring Union County.

Peyton Barrett, a ninth grader at Towns County High School, was given the honor of welcoming Casey Cagle to the podium. Barrett spoke of Cagle’s background, citing Cagle as the sole Republican elected to the office of Lieutenant Governor in Georgia’s history.

Prior to taking questions from the crowd, Lieutenant Governor Cagle focused on the importance of updated infrastructure and the educational criteria necessary to fill the employment needs of Georgia’s growing economy.

Casey Cagle referenced the I-85 bridge which collapsed in late March and voiced his support for private contractors rebuilding Georgia’s framework.

Cagle went on to inform the attentive audience that there are approximately 150,000 jobs open in the state, citing 25% of the employment opportunities demand a 4-year degree while the remaining 75% require a 2-year degree or industry certification.

The Lieutenant Governor noted that without an adequate education, Georgia’s youth are susceptible to turning to a life of crime or becoming dependant on government.

“All work that is honest work is good work,” Lieutenant Governor Cagle said, quoting words of wisdom passed down from his grandfather.

Cagle went on to say he’s “fed up with the bickering” in Washington D.C. and tired of the establishment’s lack of accountability.

The Republican candidate touched on the recent civil unrest in Charlottesville, Virginia, and assured the crowd that Stone Mountain, a chiseled Confederate monument located on the outskirts of Atlanta, will be preserved should he become the next Governor of Georgia.

“We cannot erase history,” Lieutenant Governor Cagle told attendees, who erupted in an applause of approval.

The self professed conservative went on to condemn “all hate groups” involved in Charlottesville, Virginia.

Lieutenant Governor Cagle wrapped up his visit by taking questions from the audience. The first inquiry concerned sanctuary cities. Cagle stated there are no sanctuary cities or counties in the state of Georgia.The Republican had previously noted Georgia’s immigration laws are the toughest in the nation and signified opposition toward cities elsewhere that defy federal rules..

The subject of Planned Parenthood was raised and the Lieutenant Governor asserted his approval of defunding taxpayer dollars from the pro-choice program.

An attendee asked Lieutenant Governor Cagle where he stood on the Second Amendment.
“Let me reach in my boot and show you where I’m at,” Cagle joked as the crowd responded with laughter. He went on to confirm he is a strong advocate of the right to bear arms.

Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton shared his thoughts on the Lieutenant Governor’s run for office.

“I’m proud to support the Lieutenant Governor. He’s not about lip service; he’s the man for the job. [Casey Cagle] is the hardest working man in state politics and a good friend,” Sheriff Clinton said.

State Senators Steve Gooch and John Wilkinson accompanied Casey Cagle on his six day, 17 county tour across Georgia.

Focus on Firewise Communities this Friday with Movers & Shakers

Community, Press Release
Towns County FireWise

NEWS FLASH: WE LIVE IN THE FOREST. Fully 70% of Towns County is Federal or State Forest. And when you live in the Forest, you must be aware of Forest Fires. That’s why we are glad to welcome back dear friend Mr. Frank Riley, he of all things Fire Safety related, as he introduces us to Towns County’s new Firewise Communities Coordinator, Mr. Michael Courey. For the un-enlightened, Firewise is the way to be in these Mountains. Teaming with the County, Communities(such as Wood Lake, where I live) get together, remove underbrush, combustibles and such, and generally agree to keep the Community in good order. Towns County is a leader nationally in the number of Communities that are Firewise and Fire Aware. Get to the Sundance Grill early this Friday, February 15 to learn how you can get your Community involved. Be wise, be Firewise.


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 8am 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!     The More People Know, the More People Know…

Sheriff Chris Clinton and Colonel Gene Moss address Fourth Amendment

Sheriff Chris Clinton

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The Fourth Amendment was the topic of discussion at Mountain Movers and Shakers on the morning of Friday, June 29, 2018. Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton and Colonel Gene Moss – a retired law enforcement officer from Forsyth County, Georgia – advised citizens of their constitutional rights pertaining to search and seizure.

Gene Moss Forsyth County Sheriff's Office

Colonel Gene Moss

The Fourth Amendment of the Bill of Rights reads: The right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Colonel Moss, who spent over four decades serving in law enforcement, opened the forum by asserting that citizens have the right to an expectation of privacy._

“We’re going to talk a little bit about searches, vehicle searches,” Moss said, adding that vehicle searches tend to be controversial, “First of all, if you’re in law enforcement, you’ve got to have a reason to stop somebody, ok? You’ve got to have a reason…Law enforcement, how far they push this thing to get into your car, to look in your vehicle,” Moss reiterated, “You’ve got to have a valid reason to stop somebody.”

Moss went on to explain that stopping a vehicle for infractions, such as driving with a broken or dim taillight or failure to maintain lane, in itself does not constitute a legitimate reason for a law enforcement officer to conduct a search.

Sheriff Clinton mirrored the colonel’s thoughts. “Anybody that’s been around me very long knows that I’m a liberty guy, a lover of the constitution,” Clinton said, going on to state that only one percent of the population commits crimes, and his office sees no reason to “harass” the other 99 percent.

The sheriff explained that reasonable and articulated suspicion, probable cause, a warrant issued by a judge, or citizen consent is necessary for a lawful search to be conducted. “For my purposes, I require by policy, our deputies have to be able to articulate what it was that lead them to ask for consent to search,” Clinton said, “This garbage about ‘Well, I don’t know you, and you don’t know me, and we’ve got a lot of drugs out here in the world. Mind if I go rifle through your stuff?’ Well if you don’t know me, and I don’t know you, why are you calling me a bad person? Shouldn’t I be observant enough and good enough at my job to know when criminal behavior is afoot?”

Reasonable suspicion is a standard of proof in United States law that is less than probable cause, the legal standard for arrests and warrants, but more than a hunch; it must be based on specific and articulable facts, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, and the suspicion must be associated with the specific individual.

Probable cause is the standard by which police authorities have reason to obtain a warrant for the arrest of a suspected criminal or the issuing of a search warrant. The principle behind the standard is to limit the power of authorities to perform random or abusive searches, and promote the lawful gathering of evidence during criminal arrest and prosecution.

Mountain Movers and Shakers meet Fridays at 8:00 a.m. at Sundance Grill in Hiawassee, with different community speakers each week. Meetings are open to the public, and membership is not required.

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