Due to the potential for wintry hazardous road conditions tomorrow, Monday, December 10, Pickens County Health Department will be CLOSED all day, and Fannin County Health Department will delay opening until 10 AM. Gilmer County Health Department will delay opening until 9:30 AM. This applies to all public health services in these counties. Further updates will be posted to the North Georgia Health District website at www.nghd.org and to our social media pages on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
School Year Calendars
Karla’s Korner – Back to School Special:
BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Georgia’s current Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continues to make his way across the state in his bid to become Georgia’s next Governor. Recently Cagle made stops through North Georgia as part of his campaign on a two week venture dubbed the “Cagle Country Bus Tour”.
While supporters and undecided voters alike packed venues to hear the candidate speak in their hometown, many were surprised to see another Cagle family member emerge from the bus to give her take on why Casey Cagle, her husband, should be Georgia’s next Governor.
Nita Cagle has been by Casey’s side for 32 years. In these 32 years, the Cagle’s have raised three sons and are currently enjoying the addition of three grandchildren to family, but raising a family and having a life in politics has not always been easy.
Cagle holds the title of Second Lady of the State of Georgia, but she says what she is most proud of is her title as wife, mother and now grandmother of the Cagle household.
“I’m the inaugural member of team Cagle,” Georgia’s Second Lady joked as she spoke of the family’s early years in politics.
Casey Cagle first ran for Georgia Senate District 49 in 1994. At this time both of the Cagles were in their late 20s and just beginning a family.
“Casey had helped a friend run a campaign,” Cagle spoke of how their life in public service began, “Over the next couple of years I saw the spark start.”
Cagle admits that when she first noticed that Casey was showing interest in this field, that she was “a little hesitant” to jump on board, but says that her faith changed her attitude.
“I had many nights, many talks, and eventually a calmness just came over me, and I was okay with it. So when he came to me and said this is something that is on my heart, I already knew,” Cagle spoke candidly of her acceptance to stand by Casey as he joined the political arena.
When asked if she felt she had known of Casey’s intentions before he spoke openly of them, Cagle laughed and said, “Actually he probably already knew. It was just ‘how am I going to tell Nita’.”
This career move was not always smooth as Cagle had to adapt to managing her time: “The boys were young. You’re divided because you want to be with them both, be a mom and be a wife.”
Ultimately, through family discussions, Cagle decided that she would become a strong foundation for her family at home.
“You only get one time at it,” Cagle explained the decision and the importance of having an active role in a child’s life, “You don’t get a do over.”
This decision did pose obstacles for the Cagles to overcome as the now Lt. Governor was often called away for his job and for campaigns, but Cagle explained that these obstacles are no different than what many families face: “Whether it’s politics, any job is going to put stress. No marriage is going to be without stress.”
Cagle explained that she has been blessed in that despite the calling of Casey’s career, he has always put his family first, “He’s a homebody, and if it is humanly possible to come home, he is coming home.”
With their children grown, Cagle says being on the campaign trail this time has a much different feel, “It absolutely was harder as they were younger. It got a lot easier as they got older. I’m really energized. I’m really enjoying it.”
Having grown children poses a set of new and exciting challenges when it comes to time management, as Cagle announced that their youngest son recently proposed to his girlfriend and would like to wed in the Fall shortly before the Nov. General Election.
This announcement didn’t slow Cagle down as she smiled and enthusiastically explained, “What better thing to do in the middle of all this craziness, than to shut it all down and to celebrate family, remember why we do it to start with, and welcome a new daughter-in-law into our family.”
Cagle added that having been in a house of men for so long, and with her two older sons already married she is excited for the wedding and glad that the male to female ratio is evening out.
With the prospect of becoming Georgia’s First Lady, Cagle has given a lot of time to her platform and her mission if given this duty: “I have several things that I have thought about, and I may or may not narrow down.”
Having obtained a degree and having a background in early childhood education, Cagle taught preschool for a number of years.
“I specifically love the preschool age,” Cagle smiled as she discussed one of her goals if given the title of First Lady of Georgia.
Cagle would like to see preschool education expanded and offered throughout Georgia. She cited the importance of teaching children at a young age and how this early nurturing can carry over throughout their life.
Knowing that not every child is able to receive this kind of early start at home, Cagle would like to see this program offered in more areas, stating that the work put into a child at an early age will benefit society for generations to come.
Cagle would also like to put a focus on small businesses throughout Georgia. She and husband Casey got their start by establishing a small business, so she knows first hand the struggles that entrepreneurs face.
“I would like to champion them, and spotlight them,” Cagle said explaining her passion for this area. She noted that small businesses make up a large portion of the Georgia economy, and she would like to see “mom and pop shops” continue to set up and succeed in our state.
Finally Cagle discussed an issue that has come up time and time again on the campaign trail and that is of the opioid epidemic that is not just facing the state of Georgia but affecting countless families nationwide.
From speaking with residents in Georgia, Cagle is left with one strong impression when it comes to the opioid epidemic, “It’s everywhere. It does not discriminate. We hear the same story over and over. It’s repeated everywhere.”
While Cagle admits that she is by no means an expert when it comes to this crisis, she says that she cannot deny the need to address the issue and “get the conversation going.” She states that by hearing the heartbreaking stories from families affected by opioid addiction she understands the depth of the problem and that it will not be an easy one to combat.
Being a multifaceted issue with a number of areas that need to be addressed, Cagle said, “If we are blessed enough to be elected, the platform is going to put me in a position to do good and open doors for the people that know about it.”
Cagle would like to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic and at least on one front open the doors for mentoring programs where families struggling with this issue can speak with former addicts on how to help loved ones.
Cagle also acknowledged the successes being seen through Georgia’s Drug Courts, and would like to study the impacts of possibly expanding these programs.
Nita Cagle beams a confidence and sincerity in all that she speaks of, but perhaps her biggest conviction is in that of her husband’s ability to make a great Governor of Georgia.
“The best way to know the kind of leader or character a person is going to have is to look into the home, and that is what I bring to the table,” Cagle stated smiling at her husband, “I’ve been married to a man that is consistent every single day.”
She speaks of his competitive drive and his ability to connect with people, but says that he is also a fair man and one she is proud to have spent the last 32 years by his side.
Cagle’s birthday is May 23, just one day after the General Primary, and she states that this year she doesn’t want any gifts from her husband but instead, “I just want a good clean win on the 22nd with no run-off.”
“He says it’s mathematically virtually impossible,” Cagle said explaining her husband’s response to her wish, but she then added with her contagious smile, “I have seen him do the impossible before.”
Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that attracts more than 300,000 page views and 3.5 million impressions per month in Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYNTV attracts approximately 15,000 viewers per week and reaches between 15,000 to 60,000 per week on our Facebook page. For the most effective, least expensive local advertising, call 706-276-6397 or email us at [email protected]
Do you know Dr. Patrick Soon-Shiong or Thomas Wittenschlaeger?
A fiber optic cable is being run along the Georgia Northeastern Railroad. In this segment we look at the possible agreement between Patriot Rail and Mox Networks LLC to run the fiber optic cable along the rail line. We question – Who is Mox Networks LLC? We question – Who are they running the fiber optic cable for? It looks to be that there are some ties between Mox Networks and Nantworks LLC companies. Stay tuned for more information on this topic from #BKP in the next part of this segment.
Have you been wondering what they are doing along the train tracks in North Ga? Have you noticed the big spools near the tracks? Why are they digging trenches along these rail road tracks? The answer: They are installing high speed fiber optic cable. But who is doing this and what is their reasoning?
#BKP gives us information about who is doing this and where in this video. He will tell us more about who and why they are doing this in part two.
Did you know: Most of Pickens County’s early industry revolved around the marble industry. Polycor Georgia Marble is located in Marble Hill near Tate. For decades Georgia Marble has been mined and used to create historic architecture around the world, including the Archives Building in Atlanta, the New York Stock Exchange, the Supreme Court, the Lincoln Memorial and our local Tate Elementary School. The marble is also used for tombstones for the United States Military at Arlington National Cemetery. Most of the marble is white, but there is also very rare pink marble. It is one of the few places in the world where pink marble is found.
Fetch Your News spoke to the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office and below is the information that they are able to release at this time regarding the earlier indictments. The Sheriff’s Office said they knew there was probably many questions, but until the investigation is wrapped up, this is all of the information available for release.
On December 7, 2016, a Pickens County Grand Jury indicted Christopher Byers (age 32) and Arnold Griffith (age 58) with the 2014 murder of Raymond Walnoha. Mr. Walnoha was last know to live in Adamsville Tennessee and was 46 at the time of the incident.
In a complicated case that began in 2014, Detectives of the Pickens Sheriff’s Office were able to work with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation to make both arrests. Detectives had been working to follow up on information received that an unknown man by the name of Ray had been murdered. Over the course of the 2 year period, detectives were eventually able to learn that a Raymond Walnoha had been missing for this period of time.
Eventually, after requesting the aide of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, detectives and agents were able to learn that Mr. Walnoha had been killed by a blow to the head with an axe. Detectives were also able to learn that Mr. Byers and Mr. Griffith attempted to cover up the scene and hide the body.
Both Griffith and Byers were in custody for unrelated Probation Violation charges at the time of investigation and are currently being held without bond in the Pickens County Adult Detention Center.
This case is still being actively investigated by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Pickens Sheriff’s Office. Additional details related to the crime are not available at this time.
If you need additional information, please contact the public information section of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.
Kris Stancil / Captain
[email protected] / 404-536-5035
Pickens Sheriff’s Office
2985 Camp Road Jasper, Georgia 30143
Fetch Your News will update more as it becomes available.
“Some would rather climb a tree to tell a lie than stand on the ground and tell the truth” BKP
Monday afternoon July 18th in a Pickens County Courtroom Senior Judge Richard Winegarden signed the nolle prosequi orders dropping the charges against Fannin Focus publisher Mark Thomason and Attorney Russell Stookey.
Thomason and Stookey were arrested Friday 6-24-16. Thomason was charged with three counts; identity fraud, attempt to commit identity fraud and making a false statement. Stookey was charged with two counts; identity fraud and attempt to commit identity fraud.
Appalachian Judicial District Chief Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver filed the complaint with the District Attorney’s office. District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee presented the charges to a Pickens County Grand Jury made up of sixteen citizens. The Grand Jury returned true bills on both Thomason and Stookey.
When the charges were dropped that made the file concerning this case open for the public to view, FYN spent Friday afternoon thoroughly reviewing the file. I listened to the witness interviews several times.
Immediately after the court adjourned Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss did an interview with Channel 2’s Mark Winne. (Doss interview with Mark Winne.) She told Winne she has spoken with the FBI three times since March.
Mark Thomason, Russell Stookey, Lynn Doss, and Fannin Probate Judge Scott Kiker have made claims that there is currently an FBI investigation into Judge Brenda Weaver and Judge Roger Bradley. Thomason, Stookey, and Doss have made the same claims concerning the FBI during interviews. Witness interviews claim Kiker told them about the FBI investigation in detail.
Throughout the DA’s investigation one name kept coming up, County Attorney Lynn Doss. It is common knowledge in the Appalachian Judicial District that Doss does not care very much for Judge Roger Bradley. I stated in a previous article a comment Doss made to me regarding her feelings for Bradley.
Doss serves as the Attorney for Fannin County, Fannin County Water Authority, and the Fannin County Board of Education. Her husband Harry Doss is the Fannin County Juvenile Public Defender and the Fannin County Probate Judge Public Defender. The Doss’s have received a lot of money for several years from Fannin County taxpayers. Side note, FYN has researched Doss and Kiker court cases from Cobb to Towns Counties and have found several cases where Lynn Doss and Scott Kiker are co-counsel. See any conflict with that? Doss is public defender in Kiker’s courtroom. Also what happened to the promise Kiker made the voters of Fannin County that he would be a full-time Probate Judge? Far from it, Kiker has private cases in several counties. And that is a story for another day.
Lynn Doss thoroughly understands attorney/client privilege so why would she risk losing a client like Fannin County Board of Commissioners who pays her $5,708 per month, $68,496 a year? I asked Chairman Bill Simonds if he knew that Fannin County was being investigated by the FBI and also if he knew Doss was speaking to the FBI? Simonds told us he just found out in the last couple of weeks and was not aware of any conversations Doss was having or may have had with the FBI.
Remember the checks from the Judge’s account which Thomason claimed appeared to have been illegally cashed? Who gave the checks to Stookey or Thomason? During an interview with DA Investigator Greg Arp, Simonds told Arp he understood that Doss said she thought the FBI would be contacting her and so Doss wanted the checks. Simonds went on to say, his understanding was that Doss gave the checks to Stookey who in turn gave them to Thomason.
So if Doss told Simonds about the FBI possibly contacting her why did she not come back to her client (Fannin County) and confirm her involvement with the FBI investigation once she was actually contacted?
Investigator Arp asked Simonds if Doss ever admitted to him who she gave the checks to? Simonds replied “Oh Yeah! She gave the checks to this Stookey guy. She is the county attorney. She has no F****** business giving checks out to nobody especially another attorney. She said ‘I do that all the time, I give out numbers.’ Simonds said, ‘Lynn this is a lot different than a F****** telephone number, this ain’t no telephone number.’ She lied about it. I think this is a d*** vendetta. Lynn is vindictive.”
The DA’s investigators Greg Arp and Christy O’Dell interviewed Rita Davis Kirby. Kirby is Fannin County’s CFO. Kirby told investigators that she gave the check in question to Doss and only Doss.
“She is the only one who had the checks. The only person who had copies of those checks. It’s obvious that Lynn is the only one with copies of the checks from Fannin County. If Mark Thomason has a copy of them it came to him from Lynn Doss. In March Lynn comes in and asks me for a copy of the third quarter, second, third and fourth quarter of 2015 and the first quarter of 2016 of Judge Bradley’s checks. She said I have gotten word the FBI is going to be looking into this and they will probably call me so if you will just go ahead and get those for me I will have them when they contact me. I got her the copies and sent them to her. She sent me an email and said could I go ahead and give her the other two judges just for the sake of not singling any one judge out. Something to that effect. She emailed me. Kirby said Doss never came back and said anything about the FBI investigation. “
Kirby was asked if the FBI had made any requests to the commissioner’s office?
“No, and that is what’s strange to me as well.”
Kirby recounted a meeting with investigators between Doss, Simonds, and herself concerning who Doss gave the checks to and how she knew they had been cashed. “ When Bill got a copy of the Open Records Request that Thomason sent Chairman Rob Jones in Pickens County, Lynn came in and was in Bill’s office. Kirby went into Bill’s office and sat down. Lynn read a copy of the email and told Bill she needed to talk to him about this. She needed to explain. She said this is crazy (Lynn), I could kill Mark Thomason (jokingly). All I know about this is ‘Mark Thomason received copies of these checks from Rita,’ and I (Kirby) stopped her. I said “No, Lynn, No he didn’t.” “I thought I had given him those checks but I didn’t. I went back to verify that. I did not give those checks to Mark Thomason, you are the only one I gave those checks too. She said (Lynn) I’m not sure how he got them.”
The reasoning behind the investigation is there is a problem about ‘if’ the checks have been cashed and they’re not supposed to be cashed. Lynn said on the back of the check in the upper left hand corner on Judge Bradley’s checks there are numbers that go across and we understand and were told it was a teller override. (Rita said) I told her that was not a teller override and Lynn said, I spoke to Ruth Jordan and she told me that it was a teller override.
Kirby said she was in the room when Simonds asked Doss who she gave the checks to. “Doss told Bill she gave the checks to Stookey who is Mark Thomason’s Attorney. At that point Bill looked at her and said, “you did what?” She said it’s open records and I gave them to Stookey. She said it’s no different than me giving a phone number to an attorney without asking if she could give the number out. Bill said that ain’t quite the same thing.”
Kirby implied throughout the interview that she feels that Doss shares county information with Thomason.
Did Ruth Jordan tell Lynn Doss that the checks appeared to have been cashed because of the numbers on the back of the check? Jordan is the Blue Ridge Branch Manager of Community & Southern Bank.
DA Investigators O’Dell and Arp interviewed Jordan. Jordan immediately let them know she could not answer questions for the bank but she could talk about procedural issues.
If we show you the back of the check could you tell us if it’s a teller override?
Jordan, “You would not be able to tell anything about the back of the check, I think that is the whole issue somebody doesn’t understand.”
So you couldn’t look at the back of the check and tell if it’s a teller override?
Jordan, “This is what I told everyone I did have a conversation with but I have not had a conversation with any attorney.”
So you haven’t talked with Miss Doss?
Jordan, “Concerning the back of the check in question, “this is a routing number, that is all that is.”
Investigator Odell, is there anything on the back of the check that you can tell that it’s been
cashed, deposited, whatever….?
“Procedural-wise, as far as Community and Southern’s bank policy, a check like that should never be cashed. That’s a business check. It’s a business check. One person does not have ownership of that check. So that check should have been deposited. Now, there is a For Deposit Only here. There is nothing on the back of this check that can tell you the check has been cashed, deposited, you can’t tell anything. There is nothing back there to tell that. It’s a routing number, branch number and teller number.”
Investigator, The only reason you are here is because your name specifically has come up as having a conversation with a certain attorney that has indicated that you were able to tell them from the back of that check. You have not had any conversation with Mrs. Doss regarding any of this?
Any conversation with Mrs. Doss regarding teller overrides? “No”
Jordan, “I have not spoken to Lynn Doss. I will not disclose anyone’s personal information. It’s not going to happen.”
When discussing the subpoena Jordan said, “I was shocked and amazed. I have never gotten a subpoena that was not served by an officer. If a deputy would have showed up with that subpoena it would have been filled out by someone before they got here with it. Generally when I get one on something like that they serve notice and generally they want someone to sign showing I received it. They were here literally wanting us to give them something and I’m like what, we don’t do that. I don’t think they understood. I was shocked that they had what looked like nearly a blank subpoena and I just said I don’t know anything about this. I don’t know what you’re looking for. You’re going to have to give me some information.”
Investigators showed Jordan the check that supposedly had been cashed illegally. Jordan said there was nothing on the check that indicated a teller override or that it had been cashed.
A check when deposited with a teller show the teller’s number so why not just go to the teller and ask if they cashed or deposited the check?
So why did Doss tell Simonds and Kirby that Jordan said the check appeared to be cashed? Who told Thomason the check appeared to be cashed? Remember that is what Thomason said in the email he sent Pickens County Commissioner Rob Jones. The email to Jones was an for an open records request. Who gave Thomason his information?
What about the FBI Investigation? In one witness interview with “Mr. X” he tells Arp and O’Dell that there are two FBI agents doing the investigation. FYN has learned the name of one FBI Agent, Jamie Harter.
Mr. X told Arp and O’Dell the following: Scott Kiker told me that a whistleblower came to Mark Thomason. Kiker would never tell me who the whistleblower was. Only thing Kiker told me was that the whistleblowers had been granted immunity from prosecution. There are two FBI agents.
Kiker said the reason he got involved was he and Thomason had to sign a paper before the FBI would investigate. They had to sign a paper saying that Mark had asked them to come up here. Thomason told Kiker he was afraid to sign it without some legal representation so he requested Scott Kiker to be his legal representation and then he signed the thing and gave it back to the FBI.
So if Scott Kiker is Thomason’s legal counsel concerning the FBI investigation does he know who the whistleblower is? Does he know whom the FBI offered immunity? FYN has reached out to Lynn Doss and Scott Kiker with a list of questions. At the time of this article they have not responded. At the bottom of this article you will see a list of questions we have asked both Doss and Kiker. We will post their answers as soon as they respond.
Remember the attempt to commit identity fraud in the indictment of Thomason. We found something very interesting in the DA’s file. It may be irrelevant but we feel it’s worth mentioning.
In this letter from Assistant District Attorney Chase G. Queen of the Enotah Judicial Circuit, Thomason may have committed identity fraud.
FYN would like to be clear regarding the allegations of “cashed checks” there hasn’t been any proof presented at this time which supports the claims of checks being cashed.
Below is the list of questions for Fannin County Attorney Lynn Doss and Fannin County Probate Judge Scott Kiker.
I have reviewed the entire file including listening to all of the witness interviews in the case that was dropped last week against Mark Thomason and Russell Stookey.
- One witness stated that Thomason had to sign a form and send it back to the FBI before they would look into Thomason’s complaint. The witness stated that he (Thomason) brought the paperwork to you and I understand you signed as Thomason’s Attorney. Did you sign a document along with Mark Thomason that was sent back to the FBI?
- Have you spoken to or met with the FBI?
- Have you and Lynn Doss ever spoken with or met with the FBI together?
- Did Lynn Doss tell you she was speaking with the FBI? When was the first time you knew that Lynn Doss was involved with the FBI investigation?
- One witness said that you told him there was a whistleblower at UCBI and the FBI has granted this person immunity from prosecution. How are you aware of this information? Who told you (Mark Thomason, Lynn Doss, FBI…)? Do you know the identity of the whistleblower?
- One witness said that when he confronted you about the whistleblower and UCBI you said it was a rumor Mark Thomason started. Is it a rumor?
- Did you represent Greg Joseph Staffins in a shoplifting case in Union County?
- Does the Fannin County Probate Court have or use investigators?
- Has Mark Thomason ever worked for the Probate Court as an investigator?
- Are you aware that allegedly Mark Thomason went into the Blairsville Wal-Mart and identified himself to Wal-Mart employee Jeff Griffin as an investigator for the Fannin County Probate Court specifically Judge Scott Kiker’s Investigator?
- According to Jeff Griffin, Thomason asked to see Wal-Mart case reports on the shoplifting case against Greg Joseph Staffins. Was your office ever contacted by the Union County DA’s office inquiring about Thomason’s relationship to the Probate Court and yourself?
I am working on an article concerning a possible FBI investigation you discussed in a recent interview. I have listened to the witness interview from the Mark Thomason-Russell Stookey case and have several questions.
- You said you have communicated with the FBI 3 times. Were those phone conversations or meetings?
- Did you provide the FBI with any Fannin County documents?
- At any time did you make the Fannin County Chairman Bill Simonds aware of your involvement with an FBI investigation?
- Who (name) did you talk to at the FBI?
- Did you give the checks in question to Russell Stookey or Mark Thomason?
- Did you contact the FBI first?
- Did Ruth Jordan tell you the numbers on the check showed the checks had been cashed?
- Did you tell Chairman Simonds, with Rita Kirby present, that you gave the checks to Stookey and that Ruth Jordan told you the checks had an override number on them indicating they had been cashed?
- Did you tell Mark Thomason the checks appeared to have been cashed?
- Have you ever had a conversation with Scott Kiker concerning the FBI investigation in this matter?
- Has Scott Kiker or Mark Thomason shared with you the name of the whistleblower?
- Have you signed any paperwork with the FBI?
District Attorney B. Alison Sosebee received a request from Superior Court Judge Brenda Weaver to drop the charges against Publisher Mark Thomason and Attorney Russell Stookey. Sosebee will not prosecute and filed a nolle pros this morning, July 7th in the Pickens County Court system and awaits a judge’s signature. Judge Weaver cites reasons in letter below: