Towns County jail procedures amended due to COVID-19

News, Press Release
Towns County Jail - virus -COVID19

PRESS RELEASE from the Towns County Sheriff’s Office:

YOUNG HARRIS. Ga. – The Towns County Sheriff’s Office in response to President Trump declaring a “State of Emergency” and Georgia Governor Kemp declaring a “Public Health State of Emergency” has amended the Sheriff’s Office daily operation plans. The operation plans were revised on Friday, March 13, and continue to be revised and updated as recommendations are made.

The following are the major amended changes to the
Sheriff’s Office daily operation plans:

Inmate Visitation: All inmate visitations has been
canceled until further notice.
Religious Services: All services within the jail involving
contact with outside subjects are canceled until further
notice. Inmates will continue to be able to obtain religious
materials within the jail.
Jail Sanitation: All inmate areas normally cleaned twice
daily will be cleaned three times daily.
General Facility Sanitation: All general areas of the jail
and Sheriff’s Office will be kept in a high state of
environmental cleanliness.
Applicant Fingerprints: All applicant fingerprints are
suspended until further notice.
Access to ATM Machines: Access to the ATM machine
in the Jail has been restricted. Family and friends can still
deposit money into an inmate’s commissary and phone
accounts by using the means shown below:

To Purchase Inmate Phone Time
1. Inmate phone time can be purchased by visiting
www.inmatesales.com or by calling 1-877-998-5678.
2. We also have an inmate Phone ATM in the Bonding
Window area outside the facility that accepts cash,
debit cards, and credit cards.

To Deposit Money Into An Inmate’s Commissary Fund

1. Deposits may be made into an inmate’s commissary
fund by visiting
https://deposits.jailatm.com/WebDeposits/.
2. Deposits may also be made by calling 1-877-810-0914
and following the prompts.

Screening Arrestees: All arrestees brought to the jail are
being screened for symptoms of the Covid19 Virus.
Screening Staff: All staff members are being closely
screened for symptoms of the Covid19 Virus.
Facility Deliveries: The method of receiving deliveries to
the Sheriff’s Office and Jail has been modified to restrict
contact with delivery personnel.

Informational Updates: Staff transmitting and receiving
informational updates and recommendations in reference to
the Covid19 Virus will be using webinars, phone
conferences, and email avenues to exchange information to
reduce physical contact to reduce the spread of the virus.
On-Line Audio/Visual Meeting: The Sheriff’s Office has
just recently implemented a program to host meetings with
County department heads, and other agencies, on-line
through the internet to discuss public safety issues and
other concerns as necessary therefore limiting physical
contact as means of preventing and reducing possible
exposure to the virus.
Six (6) Foot Buffer: All staff members have been
instructed to try to maintain a 6-foot buffer zone between
themselves and others they encounter while performing
their duties.
Personal Hygiene: Staff has been instructed to use proper
hygiene practices, washing hands after any contact with
another person.

Calls for Service: Uniform Patrol will handle any non-
emergency calls for service by phone as situations dictate,
i.e. general questions of an officer by the public. All
emergency calls for service will be responded to
immediately.
Medical Attention: Any inmate or staff member who
experiences symptoms related to the Covid19 virus will be
given immediate medical attention.
The Sheriff’s Office will be taking any and all precautions
to reduce the risk of spreading the virus to inmates and staff
as well.
The spread of the Covid19 Virus across the United States
as well as other Countries is new ground that first
responders have not experienced before. We will be acting
according to recommendations that will be coming down
and updated daily.

Sheriff candidate responds to agency’s virus response

News
Towns County Sheriff Election

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – In response to a report on a Tuesday meeting at the Towns County Courthouse called to bring together local leaders at the helm of the growing COVID-19 pandemic, sheriff candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn took aim at the Towns County Sheriff’s Office for not attending the relevant conference.

“Imagine that, a National and State declared health state of emergency and the Towns County Sheriff’s Office does not believe it’s important to attend a vital county Emergency Management briefing on the COVID-19 virus,” Osborn said in part on his campaign page. “There are two candidates for the Office of Sheriff that are employed at the Sheriff’s Office, why did they not attend?”

Towns County Commissioner Cliff Bradshaw, along with the two city mayors and emergency officials from Towns County EMA, EMS, Fire and Rescue, Hiawassee Police Department, and Young Harris Police Department attended the briefing, contributing input on the response measures taking form. Hiawassee Police Chief Paul Smith publicly noted the absence of the sheriff’s office while explaining what is known on their procedures, and how the city department is adapting to the virus.

Towns County COVID 19

COVID-19 response meeting at the Towns County Courthouse.

The conference, called by the commissioner, was intentionally held in the Towns County courtroom to provide social distancing between attendees.

FYN attempted to contact Towns County Chief Deputy Terry Conner, who was aware of the meeting, on Tuesday afternoon for an explanation as to why Sheriff Chris Clinton or his deputies did not represent the department. Conner replied late Wednesday afternoon, stating that the department would issue a press release on the Towns County Detention Center’s amended daily operations plan. After multiple attempts to learn why the county agency did not attend the meeting, Conner stated that the department was following health advice to avoid group gatherings.

Sheriff candidate Jim Couch, a captain with the sheriff’s office, redirected FYN to his “supervisor” on Tuesday afternoon via text. Challenger and Deputy Lisa Joseph did not respond to a request for comment.

FYN has reported Towns County Sheriff’s Office’s lack of involvement with local emergency agencies in the past,  most notably in connection with school safety. While county and city agencies attending the briefing exchanged plans to confront the potential arrival of COVID-19, providing information for the press to disseminate to the public, the sheriff’s office’s level of involvement remains unclear.

 

Tombstones stolen from historic cemetery

News
Old Smyrna Cemetery

HIAWASSEE, Ga.- Headstones from the historic Old Smyrna Cemetery were discovered missing last week, reported by Steve Eller, a caretaker of the gravesites and the offspring of ancestors who were laid to rest at the remote location between Upper Hightower and Charlie’s Creek over a century ago. The gravestones are thought to have been stolen during the past five weeks, between early-February and March 7, 2020.

J.B. Goddard's headstone

J.B. Goddard’s headstone

“A family member went up there Saturday and found out that the J.B. Goddard tombstone was missing, and of course, you probably all know that J.B. Goddard was murdered by the Justice man and hung on the square here in Hiawassee,” Eller said on March 9. “But his was missing, and also was my great-grandfather’s nephew, Homer Wellborn, tombstone is missing.”

Goddard, an elderly lawyer born in 1818, was the victim of moonshiner Tilman Justice who believed that Goddard was on the brink of turning his illicit spirit operation over to revenuers in 1887. Justice was later convicted and hung in Towns County for Goddard’s murder, the only hanging in the county’s history. According to local historian Jerry Taylor, Justice was hung somewhere along River Street in Hiawassee, the precise location unknown.

Eller told FYN that Jeep clubs – with many of the vehicles bearing South Carolina license plates – were witnessed in the area of the Old Smyrna Cemetery at the time that the gravestones were thought to have been stolen.

“I talked to the Towns County sheriff and you know, we reported it and all that kind of stuff, but probably not much chance on getting anything on that, as far as that goes, because it would be so hard to find but we do have it on Facebook and pictures of the Goddard tombstone on Facebook so if anybody was to see it maybe they could realize it was stolen and maybe give it back,” Eller said.

Homer Wellborn

Homer Wellborn’s headstone

Eller launched an online fundraiser in February for “clean up, repair and maintenance of cemetery, entrance road. and memorials” at the burial site. “The property around this cemetery was sold to the Forest Service in 1933,” Eller explained. “My great grandfather (Hardy Washington Eller) lived in this area around Charlie’s Creek/Upper Hightower Community of Towns County. His home and land was referred to as ‘The Hard Eller Place.’ This cemetery has been neglected for years and needs some TLC.”

Click to view or support the Old Smyrna Cemetery fundraiser

Eller asked for anyone with information on the stolen cemetery headstones to contact the Towns County Sheriff’s Office at 706-896-4444.

Featured Image: A portion of Old Smyrna Cemetery

Dozens arrested in Towns County on drug charges

News
Towns County drug arrests

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – In the past two months, the Towns County Sheriff’s Office has continued to pursue suspects on drug-related charges in the community, with more traffic stops and search warrants producing arrests.

On Saturday, Dec. 28, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Toyota Corolla on Fodder Creek Road in Hiawassee. The driver identified as Toni Jean Perry, 42, of Hiawassee was arrested and charged with: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Driving on Suspended Registration, 1 Count Failure to Maintain Lane.

On Wednesday, Jan. 8, Towns County Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies searched a residence located on Bald Mountain Cove in Hiawassee. Investigators and deputies arrested Jeremy Jemlish, 33, of Hiawassee charging him with 1 Count of Drug-Related Objects, 1 Count Giving a False Name to a Law Enforcement Officer, and
additionally arrested on an active parole warrant.

On Saturday, Jan. 11, A Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Dodge Ram Pickup on State Highway 75 North in Hiawassee. Upon further investigation, Harvey Ellis May, 36, of Hayesville, North Carolina was arrested and charged with 1 Count of Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine.

On Monday, Jan. 13, Towns County Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies executed a search warrant at a residence located on Campbell Terrace in Young Harris. Upon the completion of the search and further investigation, the following suspects were arrested; Joshua Leon Brinson, 40, of Young Harris. He was charged with 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Trafficking in Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession Methamphetamine with Intent to Distribute, and 1 Count of Possession of a Firearm by a Convicted Felon. Elizabeth Ann Brinson, 62, of Young Harris. She was arrested and charged with 1
Count Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, and 1 Count Drug Related Objects Autumn Dawn Martin, 24, of Hayesville, North Carolina. She was arrested and charged with 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, and 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of a Schedule I Drug (Xanax).

Towns County grug arrests

On Wednesday, Jan. 15,  a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on State Highway 66 in Young Harris on a Ford Explorer. Upon further investigation, the driver Jack Hadley, 47, of Warne, North Carolina was arrested and charged with 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count Drug Related Objects, 1 Count Driving without License, and 1 Count Violation of Brake Light Requirement.

On Wednesday, Jan. 15, Towns County deputies assisted a Georgia State Patrol trooper with a traffic stop on State Highway 76 in Young Harris involving a Dodge Caravan. Upon further investigation, deputies arrested Tiffany Snow, 27, of Pendergrass, Georgia and charged her with 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana. Nina Shelton, 27, of Braselton, Georgia was also arrested and charged with 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, and 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of THC Oil.

On Thursday, Jan. 23, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on State Highway 76 in Young Harris on a Nissan Altima. Upon further investigation Jack Hadley, 47, of Warne, North Carolina was arrested and charged with 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, and 1 Count Possession of Drug Related Objects.

On Saturday, Jan. 25, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on State Highway 288 in Hiawassee on a Ford F-150 pickup. A Georgia State Patrol Trooper assisted with the traffic stop. Upon further investigation Chad Patterson, 42, of Hayesville, North Carolina was arrested on 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Marijuana, and 1 Count Possession of Drug Related Objects.

On Monday, Jan. 27,  Towns County investigators and deputies executed a search warrant at a residence located on Martin Circle in Young Harris. Upon the completion of the search warrant Donald Richard Martin, 45, of Young Harris was arrested on 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine.
He was also arrested on 2 warrants for Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Sell of Methamphetamine, and 1 warrant for Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Sell of a Schedule I Drug (Ecstasy) These warrants were in reference to a recent undercover investigation.

On Tuesday, Feb. 4,  Towns County Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies searched a residence located in Ashland Cove, and upon the completion of the search arrested James Bailey, 37, of Young Harris on the following charges: 1 Count of Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine and 1 Count of Drug Related Objects. Bailey was also arrested on a warrant out of Florida for the sale and delivery of methamphetamine.

Towns County drug arrests

On Sunday, Feb. 9,  a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on State Highway 76 in Young Harris on a Buick Verano. Upon further investigation the following suspects were arrested:
Jordan Shane Bragg. 19. of Douglasville, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana
1 Count Speeding
Zion Jesse Moore, 19, of Dunwoody, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana
Joshua Amir Lalik Smith, 19, of Lawrenceville, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana
Harold Jordan Mac Blue, 19, of Duluth, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana

On Frida,y Feb. 14, a Towns County deputy conducted a traffic stop on State Highway 76 in Young Harris on a Honda Civic. Upon further investigation, the driver identified as Meredith Jane Reynolds, 19, of Hayesville, North Carolina was arrested on the following charges: 1 Count Drug Related Objects, and 1 Count Violation of Window Tint
Regulation. A Hiawassee Police Department officer assisted with the traffic stop.

On Thursday, Feb. 20, Towns County Sheriff’s Office investigators and deputies conducted a search of a residence located on Deer Run in Hiawassee. Upon the completion of the search and further investigation, the following suspects were arrested:

Jack Douglas Cothren, 49, of Hiawassee, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine
1 Count Drug Related Objects
Dena Robin Beasley, 49, of Hiawassee, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine
1 Count Drug Related Objects
Clifton Cothren, 67, of Hiawassee, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine
1 Count Drug Related Objects

On Friday, Feb. 21,  a Towns County investigator and deputy made a traffic stop on State Highway 66 in Young Harris on a Dodge Durango. Upon further investigation, officers arrested the driver, Donald Beck, 39, of Young Harris on the following charges: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Possession of a Firearm during the Commission of a Felony and 1 Count of Drug
Related Objects/

On Wednesday, Feb. 26, a Towns County deputy on patrol in the area of King Cove Road in Young Harris made contact with a subject walking. Upon further investigation, the subject, Johnathan Dills, 38, of Young Harris was arrested for 2 Counts of Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Schedule II Drugs and 1
Count of Drug Related Objects.

On Wednesday, Feb. 26,  Towns County investigators and deputies searched a residence located off Mill Creek Road in Hiawassee. Upon the completion of the search the following suspects were arrested:
Corey Hensley, 42, of Murphy, North Carolina
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine
1 Count Drug Related Objects
1 Count Giving False Name to Law Enforcement
1 Probation Warrant
Sonia Taylor, 43, of Hiawassee, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine
1 Count Drug Related Objects

On Thursday, Feb. 27,  Towns County investigators and deputies, acting on information received from the Blairsville Police Department, searched a residence located off Lakeview Drive in Young Harris. Investigators located an indoor marijuana grow. Upon further investigation, law enforcement officers arrested the following suspects:
Katherine Bowman, 38, of Young Harris, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Manufacturing Marijuana
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana
1 Count of Drug Related Objects
Edward Carroll, 40, of Young Harris, Georgia
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Manufacturing Marijuana
1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana
1 Count Drug Related Objects

On Friday, Feb. 28,  Towns County investigators and deputies after receiving information from Clay County Sheriff’s Office arrested Zachary Hart, 22, of Warne, North Carolina at a residence located off Tay Walk Way in Hiawassee. Clay County deputies, along with Sheriff Deese, assisted with the arrest. Hart was wanted on warrants
out of Clay County North Carolina for Trafficking in Methamphetamine, Possession/Manufacturing/Sell/Distributing Methamphetamine, and Fleeing/Eluding Arrest. Hart was also wanted on an active probation out of Towns County.

The Towns County Sheriff’s Office extended appreciation toward the following departments for their help and assistance with the arrests of the suspects: Georgia State Patrol, Georgia State Probation, Hiawassee Police Department, Blairsville Police Department, Union County Sheriff’s Office, and Clay County North Carolina Sheriff’s Office.

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

New candidate for sheriff emerges as contestants take stage

Election, News
Towns County Election 2020

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Towns County sheriff candidates and coroner contestants attended the February meeting of the Towns County Republican Party, Feb. 27. Each candidate was permitted five minutes to present an introduction speech to GOP members and visiting constituents. Newcomer to the sheriff’s race, Craig Earon, publicly announced candidacy at the Republican forum. Although present, sheriff’s contender Linda Curtis declined the invitation to address voters, explaining to FYN that she was advised against “partisan party affiliation and lobbying” by her federal employer prior to supervisory approval next week.

Tamela Cooper Towns County

Coroner challenger Tamela Cooper

Towns County coroner candidate Tamela Cooper, who holds a degree in moratory science, was first to speak. The funeral home owner-director serves as a deputy coroner under Towns County Coroner Harold Copeland. “Since my initial training in 2013, I have attended six different annual, in-service trainings, and have taken both of their specialty classes, personalized classes. in photography and blood splatter,” Cooper said in part. “I have worked over 150 cases in the Towns County coroner’s office, and I’ve cared for over 750 decedents at my funeral home.  I have worked everything from heart attacks, strokes, and car accidents, suicides, drug overdoses, and unfortunately, child fatalities. And I use the knowledge I gained in college courses and seven years I have in experience on every case I step on…If we were standing here tonight and talking about a fire chief position, you would not see me here…One of the things I do want to bring to light is that as it stands right now if we were to have a mass fatality situation, we have a fire chief and a coroner that would be working both search and rescue and fatalities. Those two positions, in my belief, need to be different. One person can’t possibly handle all of that if we were to have that situation in our town.”

Harold Copeland Towns County

Coroner incumbent Harold Copeland

Towns County Coroner Harold “H” Copeland followed. Copeland ran unopposed in 2016, securing the seat without competition. The fire chief stated that he initially decided to run for office based on past wait time for a coroner to arrive on the scene.  “The coroner business is a brutal business,” Copeland said. “It’s like (Cooper) said when we come to your house; I’ve worked four cases this month, that’s four cases too many. And it’s not fun when we come to your house because somebody’s grandpa, somebody’s mama, somebody’s child is there. So I believe in getting in there and treating the family with respect, moving on about what has to be done, and calling Cochran’s or Banister’s which leads me to another deal,” Copeland said, falling short of alleging that Cooper’s position as a funeral home director may constitute a conflict of interest.

Click to read: Cooper addresses ‘conflict of interest’ in coroner’s race

Jim Couch Towns County

Sheriff candidate Jim Couch

Towns County sheriff candidates next addressed the full house.

Towns County Sheriff’s Office Captain Jim Couch alphabetically led the preliminary forum. Couch began by recounting his law enforcement experience which began in 1978, including success with youth cadet involvement. “Here, I’d love to start that same program. It’s real easy to do…,” Couch said. “Now I’m with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office. I’m a captain. Right now I supervise 18 personnel. That’s patrol, investigations, school resource officers, court services. All those personnel, I do supervise. Four more are part-timers. Before that in White County, I supervised up to 30 personnel. I know how to supervise folks.” Couch, who announced candidacy following Sheriff Chris Clinton’s withdraw from re-election, said that officers enjoy working under his leadership because he does not “yell” at them. “I support my people, and I’ll do what I need to help those people advance in their career to meet their goal.” Couch concluded by stating that he is not looking inside the sheriff’s office, rather, he is within the sheriff’s office looking forward.

Craig Earon Towns County

Sheriff candidate Craig Earon

Craig Earon, the newest sheriff’s candidate, followed Couch. “Five years ago my wife and I moved here to Hiawassee from Gainesville, GA. We found this location to be paradise,” Earon began. “I’ve been retired for seven years and, of course, I get underfoot at the house and my wife wanted me to find something else to do, and I am running for sheriff.  I have a background working with most of the federal agencies; FBI, NSA, the U.S. Patent Trade Office, primarily security stuff for their systems. I’ve always enjoyed my work with long hours and never afraid to put in the extra hours necessary.” Earon said that his work history includes Fortune 500 employment, and explained that his law enforcement experience consisted of assisting an officer with warrant delivery in Norcross, GA. “I’m a quick learner. I do not have a law enforcement background, but I can tell you, I’m a quick study and I’m willing to put the hours in to get it done…When I heard that Chris Clinton was leaving, I wanted to at least throw my hat in to try to fill the void, and I believe I can do that.” Earon closed with a Ronald Reagan quote on law enforcement.

Ken Ode Henderson Towns County

Sheriff candidate Kenneth Henderson

Next up was sheriff’s contender Kenneth “Ode” Henderson. “If I’m elected your sheriff, I want to make sure that our officers are getting at least 40 hours of training each year,” Henderson said. “Now, Georgia only mandates that we do 20 hours, but I want to make sure we do at least 40. I hope that we can do more than that.” The Young Harris College police chief noted implementing “community-orientated type training,” along with the continuation of CLEA. Henderson stated that he plans to work in cooperation with local and surrounding law enforcement agencies, and intends to maintain state accreditation. The sheriff’s candidate spoke on creating a local, anonymous drug hotline and applying funds from seizures as reward incentives. Henderson reiterated wanting to change the pattern of current patrol cars to black-and-white to increase visibility and the value of a cadet program. “I want to reach out to our young folks. I want to work with them. I’ve done that for 38 years and have wonderful rapport with our students in working with them and want to do that in Towns County with ours. I want to keep drugs away from them, and we’re going to hire professional drug agents…If you’re selling drugs in Towns County, Towns County Sheriff’s Office is coming for you, and I promise you that. That will be our number one priority.”  Henderson assured that he will enact an open-door policy if elected.

Lisa Joseph Towns County

Sheriff candidate Lisa Joseph

Towns County Sheriff’s Office Corporal Lisa Joseph addressed constituents. “I do not bring as many years of experience to the road as some of my opponents,” Joseph explained. “What I do bring to the table is I have two Master’s degrees. I have a Master’s degree in Criminal Justice and a Master’s degree in Education, and you may ask yourself, what does that mean to you? What it should mean to you is that I can teach law enforcement as it applies today.” Joseph claimed that if law enforcement is conducted the way it was in past decades, it could lead to “lawsuits or jail time,” adding that a “fresh” approach is needed. “Law enforcement changed and we have to be able to change with it.” The patrol deputy said that animal control is an issue raised regularly in the community. “That’s a simple issue that all of us, including the commissioner’s office, can work together to have animal control,” Joseph said, moving on to say that she intends to retain the “high standards” within the sheriff’s office, including state accreditation.

Daren Bear Osborn Towns County

Sheriff candidate Daren Osborn

Lastly, sheriff candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn took the podium. “I’ve lived here in Towns County my entire life, born and raised here. I’ve been in law enforcement for 33 years,” Osborn began, listing experience serving with several departments and education in management and supervisor training. “I know why many of you moved here…We, as citizens of Towns County, want to keep our county safe, do we not? That’s why we moved here, and I am running for sheriff to keep this county safe. We have crime. It’s no secret. We have crime everywhere, and we’re going to attend to that problem. Drugs are our number one problem here in the county, and when you have drugs, you have thefts and burglaries. I’m an investigator in Union County at this time, lieutenant over property crimes,” Osborn said. “You have it in Towns County, you have it in Union County. I am, when elected sheriff, going to get back into the drug task force, actively. I’m not going to sit on the sidelines and let drugs take over this beautiful community.” Osborn acknowledged that opponent Henderson is equally passionate on the subject of drug enforcement. “Either one of us are going after the drugs. I guarantee you.” Osborn shared that his brother was killed in a car accident, the result of a driver being under the influence of drugs. “You can say it’s personal. Yeah, it’s personal. I don’t like drugs. I don’t like drivers that’s on the road drinking. I’m not going to tolerate that.” Osborn added that our youth is our future, and vowed to work “day and night” to “stop the problem we have here.”

Betsy Young Towns County

Towns County GOP Chair Betsy Young led the meeting.

Retiring Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton did not attend the meeting.

All contenders plan to run on the Republican ticket in the General Primary, May 19.

A sheriff candidates’ forum is scheduled Saturday, March 14, at 6 p.m. at Towns County Schools. Doors open at 5 p.m. Official qualification takes place the week of March 2, 2020.

Related Archive:

UPDATED: Towns County Sheriff Candidates’ Forum planned for mid-March

 

 

 

 

Sheriff’s candidate strives for ‘open dialogue’ with citizens

Election, News
Daren Bear Osborn

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – A clear line of communication between law enforcement officers and the citizens that they serve is an integral component of effective policing, and it is a topic that Towns County sheriff’s candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn chose to publicly address Feb. 11.

“I believe that the best way to protect our citizens is to be informed about current issues, problems, and public safety needs in our county,” Osborn stated. “I believe that a strong partnership between law enforcement and local citizens through community policing and information sharing will serve our county well. Many problems can easily be solved through clear communication, open dialogue, and complete transparency. I believe a strong sheriff can lead and serve humanely and compassionately without adversity. A sheriff’s ability to enforce the law without conflict or aggression speaks to his character.”

According to FYN’s research, the U.S. Department of Justice agrees. “Transparency is essential to positive police-community relationships,” the national agency explained. “Strong relationships of mutual trust between police agencies and the communities they serve are critical to maintaining public safety and effective policing. Police officials rely on the cooperation of community members to provide information about crime in their neighborhoods, and to work with the police to devise solutions to crime and disorder problems. Similarly, community members’ willingness to trust the police depends on whether they believe that police actions reflect community values and incorporate the principles of procedural justice and legitimacy.”

Osborn, an active member in the Towns County community long before election season officially began, has spent a vast amount of time practicing what he preached in the form of public outreach. The sheriff’s candidate has met one-on-one with countless residents thus far, gaining a deeper insight into citizens’ concerns.

Osborn said, as sheriff, he will continue encouraging Towns County citizens to bring problems to the attention of law enforcement. “Together, we can accomplish all our goals in making Towns County a safe, pleasant, and respected county in which to live,” Osborn concluded.

Continue to follow FYN for local, state, and national campaign coverage as the May 19 primary election approaches.

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Young Harris man charged with child sodomy

News
Christopher Bryson

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – Towns County Sheriff’s Office arrested a 38-year-old Young Harris man on Friday, Jan. 31, on charges of aggravated child molestation, felony sodomy, and felony statutory rape.

Following a criminal investigation, Christopher Ray Bryson was taken into custody and transported to the Towns County Detention Center. According to the arrest report obtained by FYN, the alleged molestation occurred between the months of August and October 2019. The investigation was launched on Oct. 4, following information received by a resource officer at Towns County High School. The alleged molestation was listed as occurring “off-campus.”

Union County Sheriff’s Office previously arrested Bryson on Oct. 28, 2019, on two counts of statutory rape, two counts of aggravated child molestation, and two counts of aggravated sodomy.

Georgia Law defines Aggravated Child Molestation in O.C.G.A. §16-6-4 as: “A person commits the offense of aggravated child molestation when such person commits an offense of child molestation which act physically injures the child or involves an act of sodomy.”

Georgia Law O.C.G.A. §16-6-2 states that a person commits the offense of sodomy when he or she performs or submits to any sexual act involving the sex organs of one person and the mouth or anus of another.

According to research, a person convicted of aggravated child molestation will be punished by life in prison or by a split sentence of at least 25 years in prison followed by probation for life. In addition to incarceration, a defendant convicted of aggravated child molestation will be required to register as a sex offender. Georgia’s General Assembly found that the State has a compelling interest in protecting the public from sexual offenders and in protecting children from predatory sexual activity. Therefore, the State requires sex offenders to register and provide the public notice of the presence of sex offenders.

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

Towns County GOP targeted in ‘egging’ attack, signs reported stolen

News
Towns County Republican Party

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – FYN received information on Jan. 27 that the Towns Republican Party headquarters in Young Harris was targeted in an overnight “egging” incident. FYN spoke with Towns County GOP Chairwoman Besty Young, with Young stating that she is “shocked” by the political attack. “In all my years in politics, I have never had anything like an egging happen before,” Young said, concerned that the incident could be the start of an escalating situation.

Towns County Sheriff’s Office Chief Deputy Terry Conner confirmed that an incident report was taken by a responding deputy and that the matter will be followed up with an investigation. Conner said that the offense is related to criminal trespass, given the fact that less than an estimated $500 in property damage occurred.

Young later informed FYN that a sheriff’s office investigator collected the eggshells from the scene to process as evidence.

FYN was additionally contacted by Jeanie Loiacono, an office volunteer for the Towns County Republican Pary. Loiacono reported that Trump campaign signs have been disappearing from the area. Loiacono said that the issue was brought to the attention of Towns County Sheriff’s Office Captian Jim Couch over the weekend at the candidate’s meet-and-greet event, with Couch advising the public to report the theft of campaign signage to authorities. “I guarantee that Couch is going be the next sheriff,” the GOP volunteer began, adding that the allegedly stolen Trump signs were secured with zip ties to prevent wind damage and deter theft. “If the signs are stolen from private property and the people are caught, it’s criminal trespass.”

FYN reached out to the Towns County Democratic Party, offering an opportunity to weigh-in on the alleged , overnight attack. The Towns County Democrats did not respond to FYN’s request for comment prior to publication.

It should be noted that no assumptions as to who may be responsible for perpetrating the incident were issued by the Towns County Republican Party.

“Throwing perishables in protest has a long and often illustrious history,” the Guardian reported in 2015. “In AD63 the Roman governor Vespasian was pelted with turnips by subjects fed up with his punitive policies. Eggs made an appearance in the middle ages when prisoners were regularly put in stocks and pelted with them. Elizabethan theatre-goers threw rotten eggs to protest against bad acting, which some might say is not so dissimilar to their use in the theatre of politics today. And in Middlemarch, set in the 1830s, George Eliot was familiar enough with the practice to subject Mr. Brooke to the humiliating fate of a substantial egging during an election speech: “Here an unpleasant egg broke on Mr. Brooke’s shoulder… then came a hail of eggs, chiefly aimed at the image, but occasionally hitting the original, as if by chance.”

 

Sheriff’s wife blames victim’s brother for fatal crash

News
Crystal Clinton - Towns County sheriff's wife

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – The death of Terry Silvers, a Hiawassee resident who was killed in a fatal accident early last year, appears fresh in the minds of many Towns County citizens as the 2020 sheriff’s campaign cycle advances. Mark Silvers, the brother of the famed victim, responded to an announcement of Cpl. Lisa Joseph‘s bid for sheriff, connecting the candidate to her husband, Cpl. Greg Joseph, the Towns County deputy who drew widespread media attention due to his involvement, or lack thereof, in Silvers’ tragic death.

The deadly crash, which many believe could have been prevented by the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, left a 911 caller who witnessed the accident emotionally scarred, and a grandmother and grandchild injured.

Click for Terry Silvers’ archives

In response to Mark Silvers’ disapproval of Deputy Lisa Joseph’s candidacy, Crystal Clinton – the wife of retiring Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton – lashed out on FYN’s social media, holding the victim’s grieving brother accountable for Terry Silvers’ demise. “Why didn’t you stop him? YOU are the person responsible for his death,” the sheriff’s wife emphasized. Members of the victim’s family, as well as others, reacted with shock to the elected official wife’s callous remark, telling FYN that the comment caused anguish.

Ms. Clinton caused a similar reaction from Silvers’ family and friends in November, changing her social media profile image to a photograph of the victim, adding that it was meant for those so “concerned.”

Terry Silvers

The sheriff’s wife changed her profile picture to that of Terry Silvers, causing the victim’s family what they described as further grief.

Furthermore, Ms. Clinton referenced a live interview conducted by FYN with Mark Silvers shortly after his brother’s death. During the interview, Silvers stated that while he knew that his brother was in no condition to drive on the evening of his death, and advised him not to leave the residence, his now-deceased brother was defiant. “I figured if I called the law on him, they’d let him go again,” Silvers told FYN last spring, referencing multiple occasions that the sheriff’s office had released his drug-addicted sibling without charges.

Click to hear interview with Mark Silvers

This is not the first time that Sheriff Clinton’s wife has made headlines, however, with Ms. Clinton falsely accusing an appointed official of being a convicted felon last fall, along with defamatory allegations fired at a contender in the sheriff’s race.

Click for Crystal Clinton archive

Furthermore, numerous individuals – some of whom served as officers under Sheriff Clinton’s leadership – have questioned the agenda of two Towns County sheriff deputies who have recently announced candidacy for Office of Sheriff in the 2020 election. While both candidates have received support, others believe that their bid may be an extension of the retiring sheriff’s ruffled reign, with Ms. Clinton’s recent outburst seemingly solidifying the concept in their minds.

On Jan. 13, FYN requested an interview with Towns County Capt. Jim Couch, who announced his bid for sheriff last week. The sheriff’s candidate declined, stating that he did not want to “get in the middle” of unrelated controversy surrounding the highly-contested sheriff’s race at this time. Towns County Cpl. Lisa Joseph has not responded to FYN’s invitation to interview.

Sheriff’s candidate Linda Curtis expressed disapproval over the handling of the Silvers’ case by the agency during a Jan. 7 conversation with FYN, recalling that the Towns County Sheriff’s Office did not accept responsibility for their role in the incident nor alter its policies thereafter. Curtis added that Heather Cassidy Segars – the 911 caller who faced an online attack from Ms. Clinton following the notorious 2019 accident – should be “commended” for her heroic attempt to prevent the fatal collision.

 

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Fifth candidate enters Towns County sheriff’s race

Election, News
Lisa Joseph

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Lisa Joseph, a deputy with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, announced Jan. 12 that she plans to seek Office of Sheriff in this year’s election. Corporal Joseph announced the launch of her campaign on her social media page Sunday night, directing the public to a website for the following information.

“As a law enforcement professional, with a strong background in criminal justice, I am honored to introduce myself as a candidate for the office of Sheriff – Towns County. Living and working in this great community for the past five years has truly been a blessing for our family and I am looking forward to the opportunity to bring about positive change as your Sheriff. My professional experience, training and education have prepared me for this important position. My professional career began as an educator in the Cobb and Cherokee County School Districts. While working as a Special Education teacher, I pursued and completed two graduate degree programs, earning a Master of Education and a Master of Criminal Justice.  My interest and passion for community protection and service, led me to leave education and enter the law enforcement profession.

“My Career journey has provided me the opportunity to develop a solid foundation and gain valuable insight and leadership skills having served in a wide range of law enforcement roles in the state of Georgia to include:

Certified Dispatcher – Cherokee County

Detention Officer – Fannin County

Sergeant/State Certified Peace Officer – Fannin County

Road Deputy – Towns County

Shift Supervisor/Corporal – Towns County

“Serving the citizens of Towns County in my current position as a Corporal/Shift Supervisor has given me first-hand knowledge of the issues facing our community.  Whether it is combating drugs, decreasing the crime rate or implementing animal control services, I am committed to communicating and working tirelessly with all branches of the county government to create a successful and positive environment for growth through our vision of honesty, integrity, and moral values.  I would be honored to further serve this county in which I am deeply committed.  I look forward to visiting with familiar faces, as well as the new faces that I will meet along this journey.”

Joseph listed her hometown as Hinesville, Georgia, on her social media page. Joseph serves on the Towns County Sheriff’s Office with husband Corporal Greg Joseph.

 

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Capt. Jim Couch announces bid for Towns County Sheriff

Election, Press Release
Jim Couch - Towns County

PRESS RELEASE

HIAWASSEE, Ga.— Building upon an entire career of public service as a law enforcement leader, Jim Couch is pleased to announce his candidacy for Office of Sheriff of Towns County.

Currently a captain with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, Couch brings 41 years of wide-ranging law enforcement experience, including in large metro departments as well as small and medium communities.

“It has been an honor for me to serve the people of Towns County,” Couch said. “I feel that my years of experience uniquely qualify me to lead the Towns County Sheriff’s Office into the next decade. I am confident that my knowledge and training will allow me to structure and prepare the agency to manage the growth that is inevitable in this area.”

Towns County’s primary election is May 19 with the General election set for November 3.

Couch will run as a Republican. Couch began his law enforcement career in 1978 as a dispatcher with the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office. In the early years of his career, after graduating from North Central Georgia Law Enforcement Academy, he worked for several metro Atlanta departments including M.A.R.T.A Police Department, Cobb County and Marietta Police Departments, and Douglasville and Powder Springs Police Departments.

He and his family have been North Georgia residents since 1996, when he accepted a position with the White County Sheriff’s Office under the leadership of Sheriff Neal Walden. Prior to that he was employed with the Fulton County Marshal’s Department as a Deputy Marshal/Sergeant. He also served with the Georgia Army National Guard from 1986-1994 and was called to active duty in 1990-1991 during Desert Shield/Storm. Couch received an Honorable Discharge in 1994.

While at the White County Sheriff’s Office, he was named Captain/Patrol Division Commander before accepting the position of Police Chief with the City of Helen in 2012. In 2015, Couch accepted a position with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office where he serves as Captain over Field Operations under the leadership of Sheriff Chris Clinton.

“My wife Julie and I are proud to call Towns County home,” Couch said. “We are deeply invested in this area, and I understand how important the bonds of a community can be for families. As we now look at our adult children raising their own kids, I want to make sure I do all I can to help build safer, healthier communities for the people of Towns County.”

Click to read: Couch’s history surfaces as sheriff’s election heats up

 

 

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Sheriff’s candidate hopes to ‘move agency into tomorrow’

Election, News
Linda Curtis - Towns County sheriffs election

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FYN sat down with Linda J. Curtis, candidate for Towns County sheriff, Jan. 7, to disseminate the retired law enforcement officer’s plans if elected to office in November. Curtis served a total of 17 years as a police officer in Florida prior to relocating to Towns County. Curtis intends to run on the Republican Party ticket, stating that she has been a Republican for the past 35 years.

“The first thing that I want to do is move this agency into tomorrow,” Curtis said. “You know that old cliche, ‘if you keep on doing what you’ve always done, you’ll keep on keeping what you’ve always gotten?’ It seems like every candidate that runs, runs on the same thing. Drugs are important here. They’re a problem in this county, but they’re a problem in every county…But there’s a lot of other problems here than just focusing on drugs. We need to give drugs 100-percent attention, no doubt, but we also have about 15 other problems that need attention also. Every candidate seems to be saying the same thing. Drugs are a problem here. They are, but what about all of the other problems that we have?” Curtis continued, explaining that an “administrative foundation” is needed within the sheriff’s office. “And we need to start caring about each other as a community.”

When asked what is working well within the Towns County Sheriff’s Office, and what could benefit from improvement, Curtis said that deputies are “on top” of the drug problem. “I think they’re taking the trash out. I think they are maintaining. I think the deputies are probably doing the best they can with the tools that they’re given right now,” the sheriff’s candidate explained. “When (retiring Sheriff) Chris (Clinton) came in, he started the CLEA. He kind of got community policing going. He went after the drugs. But we never really moved forward from that. If we keep electing the same mentality we’ll be right back here in four years because we have to work on everything. We have to work on community policing. We have to work on investigations.”

Curtis stated that if elected, she plans to build upon the Citizen Law Enforcement Academy (CLEA) program, additionally implementing a student police academy for 5th and 6th-grade students if the funding is available. More so, the sheriff’s contender listed better communication between the sheriff’s office and Towns County 911 dispatch as an area in need of improvement, as well as advanced training for emergency dispatchers.

FYN asked Curtis, who ran as an Independent sheriff’s candidate due to her residency status in 2016, her current thoughts on accepting a controversial endorsement from the Victory Fund four years prior. The Victory Fund strives to elect openly lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender candidates to political offices throughout America. Curtis called the endorsement the nail in her 2016 campaign coffin, adding that she is not a gay activist as accused by the then-GOP county chairman. “I would definitely want to move the agency into tomorrow,” Curtis said, however. “I don’t know if I would quite use the word progressive, but we have to move it forward.” In a region that undeniably leans toward conservatism, the sheriff’s contestant claimed that she faced harassment during the 2016 election cycle due to her orientation.

Presumingly referencing fellow candidate Daren Osborn, who has publicly vowed to serve as a “working sheriff” if elected, Curtis stated that the community deserves more.

“It’s not throwing on a gold badge and riding around in a patrol car. That’s not what being sheriff means to me. And I know this is probably going to upset people, but any monkey can be a working sheriff. Any monkey can jump off the road and say we’re going to work on drugs. But we’ve got so many other problems there,” Curtis said. “A working sheriff is great, but we need better than a working sheriff. We need an everything sheriff. We need to be good at admin, community policing, investigations, and we need to get out from behind the desk. We need to be in good physical condition. If my deputies are going to get out there and run a mile, by God, I need to run a mile too.”

Curtis said that her 11 years serving with Altamonte Police Department provided her with the training and experience to take office as Towns County’s next sheriff, describing the Florida agency as “very busy with high crime and high pressure.”

“As far as being a candidate for sheriff, does it make me a better cop? Not necessarily,” Curtis said. “Does it make me better able to handle a crisis? Absolutely because I’ve been in it.”

The sheriff’s candidate listed volunteer work with the local Lions Club, VFW, and the Lake Chatuge clean-up project as community service endeavors, encouraging other candidates to likewise “show what they’ve done to make the county better.”

Curtis resides in Hiawassee with partner, Debbie. The recently-wedded couple relocated to the area in 2010, becoming full-time residents in 2014.

Related Archive:

Curtis enters Towns County sheriff’s race

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Interview with Osborn, candidate for Towns County’s next sheriff

Election, News
Daren Bear Osborn

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – FYN interviewed Towns County sheriff’s candidate Daren “Bear” Osborn last week, peering into the contender’s plans if elected to office in 2020. Osborn was the first challenger to enter the sheriff’s race, a month prior to Towns County Sheriff Chris Clinton’s retraction to seek a fourth term. Osborn released a lengthy list of goals and objectives Oct. 16, five days after his candidacy announcement. The sheriff’s candidate has undoubtedly put into action his promise to become “a working sheriff,” regularly attending political engagements and volunteering at community events with wife, Missy, long before his campaign officially launched. Osborn had since taken to visiting Towns County constituents in a door-to-door approach, seeking future votes of confidence.

FYN opened the interview by reviewing Osborn’s qualifications, along with what sets the contender apart from the two candidates who have since entered the race. The 33-year career law enforcement officer recalled his years of serving as police chief of Hiawassee Police Department, police chief of Baldwin, GA, and time spent within the Towns County Sheriff’s Office. “I’m a lifelong resident of Towns County. My family has always been here. I love these mountains and the people,” Osborn said. “Experience counts. I’ve worked all levels of crimes, on scene, from murders to thefts to misdemeanors.” Osborn stated that he had completed each of the three tiers of Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) training, including law enforcement supervision and management.
When asked what Osborn believes is working well within the present-day sheriff’s office, and what could benefit from improvement, Osborn touched upon several subjects. “There’s a strong deputy effort to stop drugs, but that ends after the arrests,” Osborn explained. “Investigations should be continued, leading to high-level dealers rather than ending with small-time users.” The sheriff’s contestant stated that if elected, a drug task force will be formulated, with an “in-house” narcotic agent brought on board. Osborn cited drugs as the most pressing issue that he plans to tackle. When asked which commonly abused drug poses the highest risk to the community – methamphetamine or opioids – Osborn quickly responded, “both,” adding that marijuana is equally destructive. “I classify all drugs in the same category. Marijuana is a gateway drug, and all drugs lead to distribution. It starts with marijuana. These vaping cartridges, for example, some contain 98-percent THC. It’s killing these kids, and it’s all marijuana-related. Once they get on something, they can’t get off, and people start ‘going big’ with drugs.” Osborn included that drug use often translates to an uptick in property crimes.
The Union County Sheriff’s Office investigator elaborated that he intends to initiate a drug intervention program similar to that of Rock Bottom Recovery and Support in Clay County, NC. Rock Bottom Recovery visits inmates incarcerated on drug-related charges. “For lack a better term, Rock Bottom witnesses to the inmates,” Osborn said. “They’re educated on what drugs can do, and taught that there’s a better way of life.” Osborn confided that he would seek advisement from those who have battled an addiction to address the prevalent problem adequately.
Moreover, Osborn stated that additional patrol deputies are justified in Towns County, an issue that Sheriff Clinton publicly raised following his retirement rescript. Towns County Sheriff’s Office currently employs two patrol deputies per shift, assigned to eastern and western zones. Osborn confided that he is confident that he can operate within a budget set forth by the commissioner’s office. The candidate reiterated the importance of deputy training, adding that while the State of Georgia requires 20 hours of instruction annually, as sheriff, Osborn intends to aim for a minimum of 40 hours of advanced training within the department.
FYN dug into Osborn’s constitutional position, precisely his views on the 2nd and 4th Amendments. Osborn established that he is “definitely pro-gun” and compliant toward the 4th Amendment – the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. “People will be safe in their homes,” Osborn responded. “All procedures will be played according to law, done right, and if they aren’t breaking the law, there won’t be any problem.”
The interview concluded with FYN questioning whether Osborn had received political backlash on his transition from running on the 2012 Democratic Party’s ticket to that of the Republican Party’s ballot in 2020. Osborn claimed that inquiries have been minimal. “I changed Parties because of my moral stance, and people seem to understand that,” Osborn divulged. “I’ve always been a conservative, and the views of the current Democratic Party are at odds with my beliefs.” The candidate went on to describe himself as a “Zell Miller” policy proponent. Osborn currently serves the Towns County Republican Party as the delegate chairman of the Macedonia district.
Osborn, a lieutenant deputy with Union County Sheriff’s Office, resides in the Bugscuffle community of Hiawassee with his wife, Missy, of 29 years. Osborn is the father of two grown children, Kayla and Tyler,  and a member of Macedonia Baptist Church.
FYN has scheduled a post-holiday interview with Towns County sheriff’s candidate Linda J. Curtis, who entered the race last Thursday. Candidate Kenneth Henderson declined an interview with FYN, offering a future press release, prior to qualification in early March.

Curtis enters Towns County sheriff’s race

News
Linda Curtis - Towns County

HIAWASSEE, Ga. – Linda J. Curtis, an Independent candidate in the 2016 Towns County sheriff’s election, has officially announced intent to run for Office of the Sheriff in 2020. Curtis announced the decision on her Facebook page on the morning of Thursday, Dec. 19.

“I would like to wish everyone a Merry Christmas,” Curtis wrote. “Also I want to send out a special thanks for your loyalty, dedication, and support in my decision to run for sheriff in the upcoming election. For the protection of your privacy and mine, I will only be using minimal Facebook time for my campaign. Again, thank you for your support. It has touched my heart, really.”

Curtis, a former law enforcement officer, joins Daren “Bear” Osborn and Kenneth “Ode” Henderson in the 2020 Towns County sheriff’s race.

 

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16 arrested on drug charges in past month

News
Towns County drug arrests

YOUNG HARRIS, Ga. – During the past month, 16 suspects were arrested on drug charges in Towns County. “The Towns County Sheriff’s Office continues to make good on its promise to pursue the arrests of suspects on drug-related charges in the community, with more traffic stops and searches producing drug arrests in recent weeks,” Towns County Chief Deputy Terry Conner said.

On Friday, Nov. 15, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Pontiac Grand Prix on State Highway 76 in Young Harris. The driver identified as Rene Chavira Jr., age 26 of Murphy, North Carolina was arrested and charged with: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count Driving on Suspended License, 1 Count of Speeding.

On Saturday, Nov. 16, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Chevrolet pickup truck on State Highway 76 in Young Harris, Georgia. Upon further investigation, the passenger identified as Travis Mathew Reece, age 30 of Young Harris, was arrested on the following charges: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Possession of Drug Related Objects, 1 Count Giving False Name to Law Enforcement Officer. Travis Reece was also arrested on three active warrants out of Towns County for 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Possession of Drug-Related
Objects, 1 Count Possession of Dangerous Drugs. The active warrants were the result of a search warrant previously conducted at a residence located off Ford Road in Young Harris, Georgia.

On Sunday, Nov. 17, Towns County deputies responded to a traffic accident reported on State Highway 75 south in Hiawassee, Georgia. The driver of one of the vehicles involved, Kimberly Tracy Holcombe, age 42 of Dahlonega, Georgia was arrested and charged with the following: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act
Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Driving under the Influence, 1 Count Drug Related Objects.Towns County drug arrests

On Friday, Nov. 22, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Jeep Wrangler on State Highway 76 Young Harris. The driver identified as Sarah Victoria Williams age 19 of Social Circle, Georgia was arrested and charged with the following: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count Driving under the Influence, 1 Count Unlawful Use of Emergency Lights. The following passengers in the vehicle were arrested for the following charges: Kristen Nicole Grant age 19 of Buford, Georgia; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count Underage Possession of Alcohol. Baylee Nicole Hendrick, age 20 of Shelby, North Carolina; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Marijuana,1 Count of Underage Possession of Alcohol. William Andrew Grohovac, age 19 of Cumming, Georgia; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Marijuana. Ivie Ellis Gatlin, age 19 of Suwannee, Georgia; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count Underage Possession of Alcohol. Madison Joy Dupriest, age 18 of Hayesville, North Carolina; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act
Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count of Underage Possession of Alcohol.

On Friday, Nov. 22, Towns County Deputies responded to a domestic incident in the parking lot of a business off State Highway 288 in Hiawassee. Upon further investigation of the incident, the following subjects were arrested: Tammy Bokstrom Lawler, age 47 of Murphy, North Carolina; 1-count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count of Drug Related Objects. Jason Joseph Williams, age 40 of Murphy, North Carolina; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine.

On Monday, November 25, a Towns County Deputy made a traffic stop on State Highway 76 in Young Harris, Georgia on a Ford pickup. Upon further investigation, the following subjects were arrested: Brandon Tracy Davenport, age 31 of Blue Ridge, Georgia; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of
Marijuana, 1 Count Possession Drug Related Objects, 1 Count Driving on a Suspended License, 1 Count Violation of Telephone Hands-Free Law. Taylor Ray Parrott, age 28 of Warne, North Carolina; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Trafficking Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act
Possession of Marijuana with Intent to Distribute, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana.

On Friday, Dec. 6, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Cadillac passenger car on Mill Creek Road in Hiawassee, Georgia. Upon further investigation, the driver identified as Nicole Hope Weaver, age 19 of Blairsville, Georgia was arrested and charged with: 1 Count Driving under the Influence (Drugs), 1 Count Failure to Maintain
Lane. A passenger in the vehicle David Allen Elliott, age 29 of Morganton, Georgia was also arrested and charged with; 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act Possession of Marijuana.

On Friday, Dec. 13, a Towns County deputy made a traffic stop on a Jeep Cherokee on State Highway 76 in Hiawassee. Upon further investigation, the driver identified as Jason Eugene Cunningham age 38 of Blairsville, Georgia was arrested on the following charges: 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession
Methamphetamine, 1 Count Violation of Georgia Controlled Substance Act, Possession of Marijuana, 1 Count Possession of Drug Related Objects, and 1 Count Violation of Headlight Requirements.

Chief Deputy Conner stated that the cases are still active, and will be forwarded to the Enotah Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office for prosecution.

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

TCSO issues official statement on Young Harris shooting

Press Release
Young Harris shooting

PRESS RELEASE – Dec. 6. 2019: The Towns County 911 Center received a call at 05:35 hours Tuesday morning of a shooting at a residence on Chicken Pit Road in Young Harris. The victim was identified as Dawn Thurman Wright of Young Harris. The victim was transported to a nearby hospital. The injury was non-life threatening.

As of Tuesday night, the victim was still hospitalized in stable condition. Towns County Sheriff’s Office asks any residents in the area of Chicken Pit Road that observes any suspicious male subjects or activity to call Towns County 911 to report it. The weapon believed to have been used has been recovered.

Agents with the Georgia Bureau of Investigations are assisting Sheriff’s Office investigators with the shooting incident. Anyone with information surrounding the incident is asked to call the Sheriff’s Office at 706- 896-4444 or Towns County 911 Center.

The case is active and ongoing at this point.

 

FYN Breaking Reports:

Patient identified in Young Harris shooting

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