ELLIJAY, Ga, – Gilmer County is picking up the pieces today after Tropical Storm Zeta tore through the twin cities early this morning. Massive Power outages, closures, road blocks, debris, and damage are continuing to accumulate today as citizens are beginning the clean-up process.
Both Gilmer’s County Offices and School System have closed today with only minor amounts of staff reporting if they are safe to do so. Emergency Officials are responding as well, but not alone today. Gilmer County Public Safety posted a photo this morning (right) as they were aided by citizens on Highway 382 in cutting and removing trees blocking the major road.
The Sheriff’s Office posted a statement today saying, “We have all of our available personnel, along with Gilmer Public Safety, Fire/EMS, utility crews, and phone company crews making their way to try and clear trees and roadways of debris along with restoring power as quickly as possible. Our dispatchers are inundated with calls about downed trees and power outages.”
The Sheriff’s Office is also asking citizens to direct power outage calls to your local utility company and phone and cable outages to your phone/cable provider so as not to overwhelm the department as they deal with emergencies coming from the storm. Heavy flow of calls to 911 about downed trees and outages could clog the lines and possibly prevent someone with a life-threatening emergency from connecting.
However, downed live power lines in areas and on roads should be immediately reported to 911 and avoided.
According to Amicalola EMC, over 38,000 customers from just their own company have been affected by outages and the cast majority of those are still without power as of 1:30 p.m. Gilmer County alone has a report of 11,700 customers without power.
Officials are asking that if you must travel today, “Please use extreme caution. We strongly suggest staying at home for a while, as most business will be without power or otherwise closed.”
EAST ELLIJAY, Ga. – Starting today, Gilmer County Schools has shut down the 6th Grade of Clear Creek Middle School to attempt to stem a rise in numbers of positive cases within the grade level.
Those numbers are coming from both students and staff according to a letter from Gilmer County Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs stating that they would be closing due to the increase.
Effective until November 4, 2020, students will be at home with learning devices as a part of the distance learning platform that the school has had in use since the early spring outbreak of the virus. However, it is not exactly the same program as the school system has since improved and evolved their distance learning programs with added software and procedures.
Since August, some students have already been a part of the virtual classrooms and students in school have received instructions on using Google Classroom as well.
At this time, Downs states that all of the system’s other schools and grade levels will keep operating as they have been, remaining open for students.
In a letter to parents, Downs said, “Recognizing the challenges closures pose for many families in our community, we are making this decision with a heavy heart but for the greater good. Our priority is always the safety and well-being of our students and staff.”
As of last Friday, October 16, 2020, the school system had 7 students absent with positive tests for COVID-19 and 133 students quarantined for possible exposure.
According to the school system’s website;
4125 – Students enrolled in GCSS
7 – GCSS Students Absent with a Current Positive COVID-19 Status
133- GCSS Students Quarantined for Possible Exposure
526 – Total Number of GCSS Employees
7- GCSS Employees Absent with a Current Positive COVID-19 Status
32 – GCSS Employee Who Has Been Exposed and is Quarantined or Reporting to Work as an Essential Employee*
The Board of Education is holding meetings this week as their regularly scheduled monthly meetings. FYN will update new stories if new information becomes available.
GILMER, Ga. – An order declaring a Judicial Emergency has been released from Chief Judge Brenda Weaver was filed today in Gilmer County regarding civil and/or criminal court proceedings in the Appalachian Judicial Circuit (Gilmer, Fannin, Pickens counties).
The order states, “The nature of this emergency is the continued transmission of the Coronavirus/COVID-19 throughout the State of Georgia and the potential infection of those who are required to appear in our courts and interact with large groups due to jury service, including grand jury service, or other large, non-essential calendars.”
As for the cases slated for next week, the order states, “It is the order of the Court that jury trials are CONTINUED, and no jurors or grand jurors shall report, and no jury trials shall be held for a period of 30 days from the date of the entry of this order.”
The order charges all parties and attorneys in specially-set hearings between March 13, 2020, and April 11, 2020, to contact the assigned judge for directions.
The order provides this list of the Amended 2020 Superior Court Calendar in that same time frame:
Additionally, the order calls for attorneys and clients to report and notify each other of any sign or showing of symptoms of illness, even mild ones, prior to or after court as well as any contact or exposure to a Coronavirus positive individual. The attorneys should then contact the judge’s office if this occurs.
The order also states a list of people that “shall not enter Pickens, Gilmer, or Fannin Courthouse or any probation office Pickens, Gilmer, or Fannin Counties, without prior permission from the Chief Judge.” Those people include:
Persons who have been in any of the following countries or regions within the last 14 days:
STATE OF WASHINGTON
NEW ROCHELLE, NEW YORK
Persons who reside or have had close contact with someone who has been in one of the countries listed above within the last 14 days;
Persons who have been asked to self-quarantine by any doctor, hospital, or health agency;
Persons who have been diagnosed within, or have had contact with, anyone who has been diagnosed with Coronavirus (COVID-19);
The order charges Sheriff’s offices in these counties to deny entry to those in violation of this order. It also gives guidance to those under this order’s restrictions on the steps to take. Read the full Judicial Order below: