Towns County Fire Corps warns of circulating scam

News
Towns County Fire Corps

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County Fire Corps President Colleen Gibson alerted the public to a scam that is circulating via telephone calls in the area. According to Gibson, the fire corps has received reports of residents receiving calls to solicit monetary donations.

“The Towns County Fire Corps and/or Towns County Fire and Rescue would never call you personally in an attempt to collect donations,” Gibson stated. Likewise, Hiawassee Mayor Liz Ordiales posted a similar warning on her social media page.

Founded nationally in 2004, Towns County Fire Corps is a locally-driven program that enables community members to offer their time and talents to their local fire and emergency medical service departments in a non-emergency capacity. Towns County Fire Corps was established in 2008, and consists of volunteers dedicated to assisting local firefighters and medics.

Flyers were recently distributed via the postal service to area residents in an effort to raise funds for the non-profit organization.

Additional information on the Towns County Fire Corps, including details on becoming a sponsor, can be found online and on social media.

Hiawassee Mayor Candidate, Liz Ordiales, Explains Why She Wants to be the Next Mayor

Community, Politics

BKP sits down with Liz Ordiales, candidate for Hiawassee Mayor. She addresses several issues that have been discrepancies during her candidacy. Ms. Ordiales also tells viewers her reasoning for wanting to be the next Mayor of Hiawassee and gives us an insight to a few things she would like to accomplish if elected.

Check out the articles below that Candidate Ordiales addresses some issues with during this interview:

 

2017 Towns County Fire Corps Fundraiser

Community, News

HIAWASSEE, GA – Towns County Fire Corps is requesting donations from the community to purchase much needed equipment. As recent wildfires raged in northern Georgia and throughout several southern states, Towns County Fire and Rescue recognized a need for standard wildland gear. The Fire Corps hopes to purchase a Polaris 6×6 Utility Vehicle in order to travel the rugged trails and abundant off road areas throughout the county.

“It’s not a matter of if, it’s a matter of when.”

Additional funds raised will provide training and safety products for the firefighters.

57 volunteer firefighters serve Towns County and 2123 calls were dispatched in 2016 alone, an increase of 350 additional calls from the previous year. In addition to managing structure, brush and wildland fires, Towns County firefighters also assist Emergency Medical Services, perform vehicle extrication and hazardous material mitigation, and conduct land/lake rescues. The Appalachian Trail winds through the eastern portion of the county and hiker assistance is a common occurrence.

To join the Flame Fighters Club, send your sponsorship donation to:

Towns County Fire Corps
PO Box 118
Hiawassee, GA 30546

Platinum Sponsor $300.00
Gold Sponsor $200.00
Silver Sponsor $100.00
Bronze Sponsor $50.00

The Fire Corps appreciates contributions of any amount. All donations are tax deductible.

Hiawassee Mayoral Candidate, Liz Ordiales, Rebukes Allegations

News, Politics
Liz Ordiales

HIAWASSEE, GA – In a fiery email sent to Fetch Your News (FYN), Hiawassee Mayoral candidate Liz Ordiales repudiated allegations published October 27, 2017, by the said news outlet which cited several different concerns from fellow candidates, alongside the endorsement of her Mayoral opponent, Barry Keith Dearing, by Incumbent Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.

‘”I have never, I repeat NEVER been accused of any wrong-doing during my presidency at the Towns County Fire Corps. This article I believe has been altered since it originally appeared. It originally stated I was the Vice-President, which is a position I have never held. These accusations are unacceptable lies and are a direct attack on my character,” Ordiales wrote. The Mayoral candidate went on to claim libel and defamation of character.

Fetch Your News caught the error referencing Ordiales as Vice-President, rather than the former President of the Towns County Fire Corps, soon after publishing and accepts responsibility for the slight inaccuracy. The mistake was promptly corrected once discovered.

Cindi Daves, a proponent of Ms. Ordiales, began in an email to FYN, “What happened to the day and age when news reporters were required to vet their stories BEFORE they print them?”

Two additional supporters responded in a similar fashion, adamantly defending Ordiales.

In an email entitled “Retract the Jr. Chastain Allegation,” Liz Ruf wrote, “Mr. Chastain is totally out of line, has no evidence and is attempting to negatively sway this election at the last minute and found easy prey through your news service. You should make this right immediately.”

LaJean Turner wrote in part, “Homework was obviously not done on this article before publication.”

Homework was, in fact, conducted. Fetch Your News does not allude to accusations without extensive research and substantial discovery.

In a 2013 letter written by former Vice President of the Towns County Fire Corps, Ken Bryant, the following allegations were cited as reasons Mr. Bryant chose to vacate his position under President Ordiales’s leadership:

  • No or Improper Board voting – for example, failing to hold a formal vote on the resignation of Dewaine Olson (Secretary/Treasurer);
  • Failure to appoint a financial controller or Treasurer with sufficient accounting background in a reasonable amount of time;
  • Board meeting minutes were inaccurate, incomplete, altered and manipulated to change the record not reflective of the truth;
  • Board member expenditures were approved arbitrarily and with no impartiality, in accordance with no clear and consistent policy.   In one case, retroactive policies were applied to a selected case and expenditures over prior authorization were not enforced in another;
  • Negative comments were made about the dual control board member signature required on fund raising account checks, which is as a matter of best practice with entrusted funds;
  • I was asked by President Ordiales to pre-sign several blank fund raising account checks;
  • No vendor selection process for several significant external relationships and/or expenditures;
  • Lack of planning – for example, a membership drive was planned on a date with a significant community conflict with another public service organization;
  • Requests for significant budget expenditures (more than 25% of total budget) for non-existent needs and for non-existent members;
  • Unilateral decision making – a decision to drop the annual calendar as a fundraising tool without board discussion or a vote (eventually over ruled by Chief Floyd);
  • Mismanagement of the historical web domain address that caused the loss of ownership and resulted in several months without a web presence;
  • Mismanagement of the previous website that resulted in the impounding and loss of use of the archived history of the Fire Department including events, activities, photos, member accomplishments, etc.;

Former Vice President Bryant also referred to “a comment, reflective of attitude, by President Ordiales on the record in a meeting stating, ‘I know we are here to help the Fire Department, but we have to take care of ourselves first.’”

The general media, as well as local officials, are listed as recipients on the resignation. A decision was made to publish the allegations in full based on the elected position the candidate hopes to fill.

Fetch Your News sent a copy of the 2013 letter to candidate Ordiales for review and provided an opportunity to respond in full.

“I would like to address the accusations made in the article published 10-27-17.  Those allegations were made by a disgruntled Towns County Fire Corps officer in 2013, who clearly demonstrated that he had joined this group for financial gain. That became evident upon his refusal to release the www.townscountyfirecorps.org website, which he is still in control of after 5 years. This prompted the Towns County Fire Corps to create a new website www.tcfirecorps.org When his invoice for website management was declined, he resigned from this position and wrote the letter of accusations,” Liz Ordiales stated.

“I suggest that interviews be conducted with Fire Department personnel to further identify the facts on this situation.  During my time with the Fire Corps, we have generated well over $250,000 of which 100% of those funds were spent at the discretion of the Town County Fire Chief.”

Fetch Your News contacted Towns County Fire Chief Harold Copeland on the evening of October 30, 2017, requesting a response. “Liz has done a great job raising funds for us. We truly appreciated it,” the Fire Chief said in a phone conversation, “but I’m unwilling to endorse anyone. I’m here to serve the municipalities, to protect from a life-and-property standpoint. I’m happy to serve everyone. I wish both candidates the best of luck.”

*UPDATED* Former Vice President of the Towns County Fire Corps, Ken Bryant, responded to FYN’s request for comment. Mr. Bryant stands by his decision to resign due the reasons listed in his letter addressed to board members, local officials, and the media. Mr. Bryant, a former federal agent and current fraud investigator, has submitted numerous additional documents related to his claims.

Mr. Bryant has since written a Letter to the Editor.

Follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the 2017 Hiawassee City Council election.

Election Day is November 7.

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

Follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the 2017 Hiawassee City Council election. Election Day is November 7.

 

Former Towns County Fire Corps VP Responds to Liz Ordiales

Opinion
Fetch Your News Editor
Fetch Your News:

 

I am writing this letter in response to statements made by Liz Ordiales, mayoral candidate for the City of Hiawassee, during a recent interview with Fetch Your News, and in response to ongoing statements made by Ms. Ordiales.  At first, I had wished to remain silent publicly on this matter as I have since 2013, but I draw the line at defending myself when Ms. Ordiales’ denials include ad hominem attacks on me personally.

 

First of all, I stand behind my statements in my letter dated and first published on March 1, 2013 which can be found at http://www.townscountyfirecorps.org/

 

The irregularities I observed by the Towns County Fire Corps are outlined in this letter.  While the letter was not directed at any individual board member, and was not specifically directed at Ms. Ordiales, it notes that the conduct at issue was approved by various board members at various times.  Nevertheless, as noted in the letter, Ms. Ordiales was the President of the Fire Corps and the irregularities were committed under her direction.

 

Contrary to the assertions by Ms. Ordiales, I did not join the group for financial gain.  Such an allegation is absurd.  No one would join this board for financial gain because there is no lawful way to derive any significant financial benefit from participation with the board.  People who serve on this board and other boards like it, including myself, generally do so to help the community.  Based on the hours involved with being on the board, there clearly is no financial incentive for anyone to be on the board.  Further, my 25 years of public service in public safety, a majority of which has been in voluntary unpaid positions hardly points to financial gain.

 

After there was no other resource available, I offered to assist with the Fire Corps website for free as long as it was a simple matter.  Ms. Ordiales, however, repeatedly complicated and delayed the project and in fact caused the domain to expire.  In order to preserve the information on the website, I invested more than thirty hours over a weekend on a deadline downloading the data before it was scheduled to be deleted.  For my efforts, I submitted a bill to the Board for $50 including $10 for the annual domain registration fee.  This fee was negligible based on the time I invested in preserving the website.  The bill for my time was more of the principal of the matter since Ms. Ordiales kept claiming that the website transfer was “simple and easy.”  Apparently, not so, at least for Ms. Ordiales.

 

Rather than paying my modest invoice, Ms. Ordiales and other board members refused to honor the invoice.  I gave her and the Board the opportunity to pay the invoice several times in writing, but Ms. Ordiales insisted on not paying for the extensive work caused by her inattentiveness and mismanagement of the matter.  As a result, I retained the domain, which I had every legal right to do.  Ms. Ordiales ultimately consulted with an attorney.  Apparently, the Board realized that they were required to honor my invoice and that I had the legal rights to the domain, and they finally offered to pay for me for my services and for the domain including a penalty fee for my grief and aggravation.  By that time, months later, however, I was exhausted with the matter and the Towns County Fire Corps lost their opportunity to resolve the matter.  At no time, as Ms. Ordiales asserts, did I ever hold the website URL hostage. It is interesting to note that Fetch Your News would never have discovered my resignation letter published on the internet at the Towns County Fire Corps original website without my continued ownership of the web domain which was only made possible by the mismanagement of the domain by Ms. Ordiales.  The posting of my letter of resignation on the original Towns County Fire Corps website URL was my right to do so as legal owner of the domain.

 

On the website issue, the bottom line is what Ms. Ordiales cannot escape from is the fact she mismanaged the entire process and she lost the domain registration. The Towns County Fire Corps no longer has any rights to it. I am under no obligation to turn it over to the Fire Corps, legally or ethically. This issue was created by Ms. Ordiales’ incompetent management of the website process and Ms. Ordiales’ and the board’s refusal to pay a valid minor debt and her continued behavior only exacerbates the situation and jeopardizes the Towns County Fire Corps ever regaining control of it.

 

The reasons that I resigned from the Town County Fire Corps board are clearly stated in my letter from March 1, 2013.  Those reasons had nothing to do with the unpaid invoice for $50, which was allegedly for financial gain as Ms. Ordiales alleges.  I am currently working on my third retirement, after first retiring at 40 years of age, so believe me when I say $50 is not going to change the quality of my life.  Months earlier, I had in fact communicated in writing with other Board members of my plan to resign, and I had clarified my reasons for doing so (which are the same reasons as stated in the letter from March 1, 2013).  All of these original related emails and supporting documentation have been preserved by me for legal purposes.

 

For example, in an email dated October 23, 2012, 6 months prior, I wrote to Ms. Ordiales and the board members stating that “I have numerous concerns over how the corporate formalities are being handled, all of which this board was installed to change from the previous board.  It is not an excuse to say ‘this is a small town’ or ‘this is in the mountains.’  This is a Non-Profit Organization and there are rules governing appropriate behavior under various state and federal regulations.”  The original purpose of this email was to ask why my corrections to the meeting minutes were not corrected from a previous Board session prior to a vote on the subsequent approval of those minutes.

 

I think the issues outlined in my correspondence on the record are a larger pattern of ongoing conduct that speaks to Ms. Ordiales lack of good judgment and good corporate governance.  This should be a concern of all residents of the City of Hiawassee.  I am a former federal agent, fraud investigator and regulatory consultant that was out on the international public speaking circuit for more than 15 years, I recognize bad governance when I see it.  As recently as a couple of weeks ago, there were ethical violations related to Ms. Ordiales’ usage of the City of Hiawassee logo on campaign correspondence and placing her campaign sign on a county firetruck during the Halloween festivities on the square and then being asked to remove it not once but twice after the sign was relocated on the same fire truck a second time after the first warning.

 

The board members, including Ms Ordiales, have known about the assertions in the March 1, 2013, letter for more than four years.  Nevertheless, the members of the board, including Ms. Ordiales, completely failed to respond to those assertions until October 2017, which was only in response to inquiries from the media.  Moreover, the only response was from Ms. Ordiales who has still not addressed the substance of those assertions, but rather asserts a motive for my letter which is patently false, as indicated by the contents of the letter.  The public record contains no response whatsoever to the assertions in my 2013 letter, including irregularities with voting, failing to appoint a financial controller (and Ms. Ordiales now notes that she has raised $250,000, which raises heightened concerns for proper accounting), altered board meeting minutes, arbitrary or excessive expenditures, fund raising violations, pre-signing of blank checks, lack of vendor approval process, poor planning, unilateral decision making, etc.  It should also be noted that I was not the only officer to resign from the same board over similar issues.  In addition, there was independent corroboration of these issues by an insurance company which refused to underwrite Officer and Director insurance for the board.  Instead, Ms. Ordiales has chosen instead to embark on an ad hominem attack on me to divert attention from the serious problems within the Towns County Fire Corps under the leadership of Ms. Ordiales, an organization that I felt compelled to resign from solely for ethical reasons.

Ken Bryant

Hiawassee City Council Campaign Ethics Raised

News, Politics
Liz Ordiales

HIAWASSEE, GA – In a live interview conducted by Fetch Your News (FYN) CEO Brian Pritchard with Hiawassee Mayoral candidate Liz Ordiales on the morning of Nov. 3, 2017, Mr. Pritchard questioned Ms. Ordiales’s decision to place her campaign sign on a Towns County Fire and Rescue truck during the City’s annual Halloween on the Square festivities on Oct. 31.

“Why did you put your campaign banner on the side of that firetruck? That is a violation of State,” Pritchard asked as the interview concluded. “Why did you do that?”

The campaign sign was placed on the rear of Engine 1 after being removed from the side

Candidate Ordiales responded she did not realize it was an ethics violation, stating she is connected to the Fire Corps and has raised $250,000 for the nonprofit organization, while making mention of Councilman Jay Chastain Jr.’s photographed endorsement of Liz Ordiales’s opponent, Barry Keith Dearing, while wearing an EMS uniform.

Towns County Sole Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, who tended to a booth for trick-or-treaters at the popular Halloween event, promptly asked Candidate Ordiales to remove the sign after it was brought to his attention.

“Towns County does not endorse candidates,” Commissioner Bradshaw said. “I’ve made that clear to the heads of all departments.”

Fetch Your News headquarters received a photo complaint of the campaign banner from an attendee soon after it was affixed to the firetruck.

“The minute I was called and told there might be a problem, did I take it down? Immediately it was taken down,” Ms. Ordiales said in the interview.

Candidate Ordiales removed the banner from the side of Engine 1, placing it on the bumper of the county emergency vehicle, out of the Commissioner’s line of sight, for a short period of time before being asked to place it in her vehicle by current Towns County Fire Corps President Colleen Gibson.

FYN CEO Brian Pritchard also questioned Candidate Ordiales’ usage of the City Of Hiawassee logo on campaign correspondence. Ordiales replied it is legal, that the City logo is not trademarked.

Incumbent Councilman Chastain has since responded to Candidate Ordiales comments on the endorsement photograph published by Fetch Your News.

Prayer Breakfast“I didn’t think anything about it,” Councilman Chastain said. “I was invited to the Sheriff’s prayer breakfast, as were all first responders, and I stopped by before heading to work in North Carolina. Barry was there, [FYN’s reporter] was there, and the picture was snapped. I personally supported Barry before the endorsement was publicized.”

Councilman Chastain did not address the group during his visit nor was his endorsement announced at the event.

The image in question has since been replaced on the original article by request from the Councilman.

Concerns related to Councilman Chastain’s uniform were not brought to FYN’s attention prior to community complaints of campaign ethic violations committed by Candidate Ordiales.

Ms. Ordiales was asked to remove a line of campaign signs from sidewalk flower pots located in front of The Mall on Main Thursday, Oct. 2, via a business owner who wishes to remain anonymous in the event Ordiales is elected.

An article related to the Halloween campaign controversy was recently published by FYN prior to the journalist’s decision to retract it in order to allow the list of allegations raised by former Towns County Fire Corps Vice President Ken Bryant while Liz Ordiales served as the nonprofit’s president to stand alone.

Mr. Bryant, a former federal agent and current fraud investigator, was offered an opportunity by FYN CEO Brian Pritchard to submit a rebuttal for publication as an opinion piece. Reference to the allegations are addressed in the FYNTV.com interview with Ms. Ordiales.

Continue to follow Fetch Your News for additional coverage of the Hiawassee City Council election.

Election Day is Nov. 7, 2017.

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. – FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. – For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at advertise@FetchYourNews.com

 

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!