Towns County Sheriff’s Office continues to investigate drug activity

Community, Police & Government
On September 28, 2022, a search of a residence in the county resulted in the arrest of Joseph Lee English, age 59, of Hiawassee. Investigators confiscated a substance that field tested as Methamphetamine laced with Fentanyl. English was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Related Objects.
A separate drug investigation and search of a residence led to the arrest of Tonya Fay Ensley, age 45, of Kennesaw, GA. During the search a substance that field tested as Methamphetamine. Ensley was arrested and charged with Possession of Methamphetamine and Possession of Drug Related Objects.
Sheriff Ken Henderson is pleased with the Towns County Sheriff’s Office deputies ongoing efforts and commitment to keep dangerous drugs out of our community and out of the hands of our young citizens.
All persons are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law

Congratulations Tyler Strickland of Towns County

Community, Police & Government
Tyler Strickland walked across the stage Friday morning as part of the Georgia Public Safety Training Center’s 100th session of the Basic Law Enforcement Training Course.
Tyler who served his country from 2014 to 2019 as a United States Marine will bring his dedication to serve to the citizens of Towns County as he did his country.
The Towns County Sheriff’s Office and Sheriff Henderson is extremely proud of Tyler and his accomplishments and welcomes him as he transitions over from a Towns County Detention Officer to a Towns County Road Patrol Officer.
Congratulations Tyler!

Towns County and Clay County in Joint Highway Safety Check

Community, Police & Government
Towns County Sheriff’s Office and Clay County Sheriff’s Office initiated a joint highway safety check on State Highway 66 at the Georgia/North Carolina state line Wednesday evening.
Sheriff Ken Henderson is pleased to join with our neighboring agency to work and ensure our roads are safe for our residents. Sheriff Henderson said working together and sharing proactive approaches to keep our counties safe is a priority for both agencies.

Man Attacked at T.V.A Campground

Community, Police & Government
On August 18, 2022, at approximately 6:00 PM, the Towns County Sheriff’s Office received a call of a person cut at T.V.A. Campground on Highway 75 in Hiawassee.
The victim, Lonnie Matheson of Warne NC, was being treated by EMS and transported to a local hospital. Mr. Matheson stated he was attacked by suspect Travis Muller with a knife.
Travis Lynne Miller, age 49, of Hiawassee was located and arrested by Sheriff’s deputies at a nearby location and charged with aggravated assault. Miller was transported to Towns County Detention Center.

Towns County Drug Bust

Community, Police & Government
Towns County Sheriff’s Office Drug Investigators, K-9 unit, and Sheriff’s Deputies raided a drug location at Mountain Country Inn, 1434 State Hwy. 66, Young Harris.
Citizen complaints of drug activity led to a two-week long investigation resulting in the arrest of four individuals on August 2.
Arrest warrants were issued for:
Candie Sue Merritt, age 48, Young Harris. Sale of Methamphetamine
Christina Sueann Canterbury, age 48, Homeless. Sale of Methamphetamine
During this raid, two additional arrests were made.
Arrested were:
Jordan Tyler Patterson, age 20, Blairsville. Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Related Objects. Further charges pending test results for other suspected narcotics.
Adam Louis Milton Hataway, age 20, Blue Ridge. Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Drug Related Objects. Further charges pending test results for other suspected narcotics.
Sheriff Ken Henderson commends the hard work of our deputies. He would also like to thank our citizens for their support and information regarding drug activity. Sheriff Henderson said, “The citizens and community working together can make a difference and are key to keeping our community safe.”

Operation Sting Continues to Get Towns County Clean

Community, Police & Government
Since the initiation of “Operation Sting” on January 1st, 2022, 40 individuals have been arrested for felony trafficking, dealing, possession of methamphetamine, fentanyl, and other dangerous drugs. In the first 6 months of 2022, the Towns County Sheriff’s Office had the largest number of arrests for drugs in county history. There was a grand total of 157 substance related charges for these individuals.
Sheriff Ken Henderson along with his Command Staff met with Towns County Coroner Tamela Cooper to discuss drug overdoses. There were 2 confirmed overdose cases just this year and according to the Georgia Crime Lab toxicology reports methamphetamine laced with fentanyl along with other drugs in the victims’ systems were the causes for these deaths. Coroner Cooper stated, “these users are not getting what they think they’re getting.”
Sheriff Henderson has stated more than once that these dangerous drugs are a cocktail for death and effect all aspects of family’s lives, mental health, crimes, jail population and overdoses.
After careful analysis the Sheriff hopes these arrests which included large amounts of methamphetamine laced with fentanyl, cocaine and other dangerous drugs that were targeted for sale in Towns County will impact the number of overdoses in the future and save lives.

Hiawassee Police Department Awarded Car Seat Mini Grant

Community
[Hiawassee, GA] – Hiawassee Police Department was awarded the 2022 Car Seat Mini-Grant by the Georgia Department of Public Health, Injury Prevention Program. Through the Mini-Grant, Hiawassee Police Department and Towns County Health Department work together to provide car seats and education to financially eligible families in Towns County. This program is funded by the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety to help ensure Georgia’s children are safe while riding in motor vehicles.
And it works! Since 2007, the education, car seats and booster seats provided through the Mini Grant prevented serious injury or death and saved over 425 of Georgia’s children who were involved in crashes. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration, car seats reduce fatal injuries by 71 percent among infants and by 54 percent among children ages 1 to 4 years in passenger cars. Car seats offer the best protection for children in the event of a crash, and they are most effective when installed and used correctly. Nearly three out of every four car seats are not used properly, placing children at unnecessary risk.
“It’s our responsibility to keep our children safe,” said Chief Paul Smith. “The Car Seat Mini-Grant is a great opportunity to help our community and help protect our children from serious injuries or death in motor vehicle crashes. Motor vehicle accidents are one of the leading causes of death for children, and we need to do everything we can to protect them.”
In Towns County, Hiawassee Police Department educates parents and caregivers on how to properly install and use car seats, offers car seat inspections, and provides car seats and booster seats to financially eligible families. Chief Smith, who completed the week-long Child Passenger Safety Technician certification last year, provides one-on-one education and inspections or teaches in a group setting. Through the Car Seat Mini-Grant, agencies supporting more than 120 counties are working to keep Georgia’s children safe. These programs help families get their children buckled up right, every trip, every time.
For more information about the Towns County car seat program, contact Chief Paul Smith at 706-896-2888 or [email protected] If you would like information regarding other counties involved in the program, please contact the Georgia Department of Public Health’s Child Occupant Safety Project via email at [email protected] or by calling 404-463-1487.

Hwy. 66 Drug Bust

Press Release
The Towns County Sheriff’s Office got a break in a month long drug investigation on Highway 66 near the North Carolina state line, when a call was received on a stolen vehicle, drug related activity and an overdose of a female. An investigation revealed that Narcan was self initiated to the female at the scene. Video at the store location revealed drug activity. Sheriff’s K-9 and drug investigators responded. Drugs were found in the possession of Travis Kelley, 27.2 grams of substance which is suspected to be methamphetamine and 1.2 grams of white powdery substance which is suspected to be heroin. As a result, Travis Kelley of Warne, NC was arrested and charged with the following:
• 16-13-30 Purchase, possession, manufacture, distribution, or sale of controlled substances (2 counts)
• 16-13-32.2 Possession and use of drug related objects (1 count)
Sheriff Ken Henderson reiterates our commitment to initiate drug suppression in our community. The sheriff commends the arresting deputies on an outstanding job on the investigation and arrest. Investigation is continuing

Traffic stop leads to multiple drug-related arrests

News, Police & Government, Press Release
drug arrests traffic stop

Press Release – On Sunday, May 31, 2020, the Clay County Sheriff’s Office assisted the Towns County Sheriff’s Office with a traffic stop on Highway 175 near the NC/GA state line. During this traffic stop information was obtained to the possibility of illegal controlled substances may be located at Chatuge Mountain Inn in Hayesville. Deputies then responded to Chatuge Mountain Inn to follow up on the information they had received at the traffic stop. Upon the conclusion of their investigation, 136 grams of methamphetamine were seized, a firearm and $10,932 in US currency. The following subjects were arrested and transported to the Clay County Detention Center:

  • Stephen Gregory Skaggs, 33 of Poca, West Virginia was charged with:
    Possession of Drug Paraphernalia, Resisting Public Officer, Maintain a Vehicle/Dwelling/Place for Controlled Substance and Traffick in Methamphetamine. He was given a court date of July 13 and a $200,000 secured bond.
  • Elizabeth Durham, 32 of Charleston, West Virginia was charged with:
    Carrying a concealed gun and Possession of Methamphetamine. She was given a court date of July 13 and a $20,000 unsecured bond.
  • Joseph Michael Eads, 35 of Clarksburg, West Virginia was charged with:
    Carrying a Concealed gun, Possession of Firearm by Felon and Possession of Methamphetamine. He was given a court date of July 13 and a $40,000 secured bond.

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

Joseph Michael Eads

Elizabeth Durham

Stephen Gregory Skaggs

Images courtesy of Clay County Sheriff’s Office Facebook page.

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:

https://towns.fetchyournews.com/2020/01/20/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.

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