Two charged with Heroin Trafficking in multi-agency investigation

News
heroin

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Continued operations throughout the Appalachian area are seeing Gilmer’s Sheriff’s Office stepping up its work both in solo operations, and in joint operations alongside groups like the Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement, Police, and Sheriff’s Offices in other counties and leading to drug seizures like heroin and meth.

heroinOn Wednesday, March 30, 2022, one of those operations involved Gilmer County Deputies, Fannin County Investigators, the Cherokee County North Carolina Sheriff’s Office, and the GBI Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office.

This coalition of law enforcement offices arrested two individuals allegedly involved in heroin trafficking. According to Gilmer’s Sheriff’s Office, an investigation into the trafficking saw the arrest of Jamie Willis Whitener, 44, of Murphy, North Carolina, and Natalie Lynn Scogin, 47, of Murphy, North Carolina.

The two have been charged with Trafficking Heroin after being stopped on Highway 515 in Gilmer County, Georgia. Headed north on the highway, Whitener and Scogin are suspected of being involved in trafficking heroin between Gilmer County, Georgia and Murphy, North Carolina. The Sheriff’s Office states that the two were known to the agencies involved in the investigation.

heroinGilmer Sheriff’s Office stated, “Approximately 10.9 grams of heroin was seized in this investigation, its value being approximately $1,600.”

Working along other agencies, numerous arrests have been made over the years after joint operations such as a four month long investigation in 2017 with the Zell Miller Mountain Parkway Drug Task Force. Additionally, Gilmer’s own deputies continue solo operations resulting in drug seizures like the record-setting arrest for 1.69 pounds of methamphetamines made in 2021.

The Appalachian Regional Drug Enforcement Office is a multi-agency unit that consists of the following Sheriff’s Offices: White County, Lumpkin County, Banks County, Jackson County, Habersham County, Stephens County, Rabun County, Franklin County, Gilmer County, Fannin County, the Cleveland Police Department and the Toccoa Police Department, along with the Georgia National Guard Counter Drug Task Force, the Department of Public Safety, Department of Community Supervision and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Human remains found in Gilmer County

News
human remains

UPDATE: Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson confirmed with FYN today that the remains found in the Hudson-Martin Road area of the county were skeletal. He said that they were complete and not missing any major parts.

Nicholson also confirmed that the remains were found above ground, not buried.

Nicholson said that it could possibly take up to a week or more for preliminary findings but is confident in the GBI’s lab in determining details sooner than that. He also specifically stated that he was confident in the lab and investigators to identify the remains before the investigation ends, providing closure to either a missing person or a crime if investigations find something pointing to that.

Nicholson also confirmed that while they did call in a tech and support from the GBI, the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office is still leading the investigation into these remains.

 

ORIGINAL STORY GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Authorities have taken custody of what the Gilmer Sheriff’s Office said is suspected human remains on Friday, February 18, 2022.

human remains

Gilmer County Sheriff Stacy Nicholson

According to a statement from the Sheriff’s Office, the remains were located by a utility company lineman crew at approximately 4:00 a.m. this morning. The locations was said to be “in a wooded area just off of Hudson-Martin Road.”

Hudson-Martin Road leaves off of Highway 52 East at Hillcrest Apple Orchard and connects back to Highway 52 East near the Oakland Clubhouse after crossing Rackley Road.

The Sheriff’s Office went on to say, “Sheriff’s Deputies and Detectives responded to the scene, and a GBI crime scene tech was requested to assist in recovering the remains.”

As of now, the Sheriff’s Office has not determined a cause of death. The remains are will be in the custody of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) and their Crime Lab as they determine more information.

FYN has reached out to Sheriff Nicholson for comment and questions on the remains found and is currently awaiting his response. This article will be update with additional information as he provides it. Stay with FYN for new articles as well as new developments are reported.

Gilmer Schools is changing COVID response for students tomorrow

Featured Stories
2020-201 Calendar, graduation, Renovations, Financial Distinction, return, testing, resignation, Virtual, inspections, School, COVID, response

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – “We will shift our focus away from contact tracing and quarantine to monitoring children for signs of illness,” says a new statement from Gilmer County Schools as the announcement comes today that COVID response and state guidelines are changing again. Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley said it was a return to focusing on educating kids in school and not being an “arbiter of quarantines.”

responseDr. Ridley sent the letter out with this statement today, notifying the community of the change. He added that he wants to be a partner with parents in their care for their children.

Ridley noted that the change is coming after the governor and the Department of Public Health (DPH) announced changes in their guidelines for COVID response,acknowledging the hardships that families have had due to quarantines on any possible exposure.

Now, instead of instantly quarantining students who have been around others in school who have tested positive, they will be allowed to stay in class while being “strongly encouraged” to wear a mask. His letter this morning stated 10 days, but Dr. Ridley said that continued updates have made that a misprint as the schools will be encouraging mask usage for 5 days.

Additionally, the statement extended this same change to those currently in quarantine due to exposure. While the last update on the school systems website noted 77 students currently in quarantine, Dr. Ridley said this number is not up to date with these changes as well as another set of changes to guidelines that the schools just received last Thursday.

The school system will continue notifying parents when their students have been exposed and will be sending out letters “notifying you that your child was in class, on the bus, participated in a sport, etc. with a positive case just as we do with any other communicable disease.”

Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley

As such, some tracing will still be done with this new response as the school is still asking parents to monitor their children and notify the school if they test positive. Dr. Ridley stated, “We will continue to notify DPH when a notifiable disease is reported and alert DPH of concerns with clusters and outbreaks which may require immediate public health intervention.”

But this isn’t contact tracing as it has been in the last year, these notifications will not continue for those that have been around someone who was around someone who was exposed to a student that tested positive.

The school system is asking parents to continue monitoring your child each morning before sending them to school. They also noted that students showing any signs of the virus or any illness should not be sent to school.

The school system is also taking extra steps for parents in understanding the change or with further needs as Ridley’s statement asked parents to contact their student’s school if they have any concerns of if their child might need extra help for a medical vulnerability.

Superintendent Ridley did confirm that he had discussed the new response individually with members of the Board of Education before implementing them. While he said they mostly agreed with the new format, he did confirm that the board could still add or reinstate any extra steps and precautions should they feel the need arises.

The school system had just posted recent changes on January 4, 2022, with updates from over the December break, but the state is already updating new changes with this today. Dr. Ridley also said in his letter, “While the constant change in guidance has been frustrating at times, we want to thank our Gilmer County families for their support throughout this pandemic. We hope that with the help of our parents, we can even more effectively monitor students for symptoms while also meeting the new DPH standard of keeping healthy students in class.”

 

Highway 382 roundabout project now in use as final stages commence

Featured News, Featured Stories, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – Highway 382 has seen construction on the roundabout project to connect a direct route to Highway 515 for nearly a year. The Georgia Department of Transportation project began in the latter half of 2019 despite the COVID-19 outbreaks and is still continuing today.

roundabout

A view from entering the roundabout from Highway 382 and heading towards Highway 515.

However, the project has hit the point now where all traffic has been moved from the old route passing directly beside Green’s Country Store to the new path curving off just past Dollar General, if you’re traveling towards Ellijay.

The stop signs at the old intersection have been removed and traffic is now fully engaging the roundabout with the Highway 382 extension in use as well.

Utilizing the extension that now crosses Old Highway 5, via the roundabout, and continues straight towards Highway 515 instead of merging with Old Highway 5 before a a small connector split off to intersect 515 at Powersports Drive.

roundabout

Construction continues into the final stages for the Old 5 and Highway 382 roundabout as it enters the final stages of construction.

The new direct path intersects Highway closer to town at the Gun Pro Shop. However, the intersection is not a traffic stop.

Instead, drivers traveling to 515 along the new connection are forced to turn right (Southbound) away from Ellijay before using a turn lane a few hundred feet down the road in order to turn back towards Ellijay.

The project reaches all the way back to 2016 when the Gilmer Board of Commissioners and the City of Ellijay received letters from GDOT about the coming project. Original seeking letters of support, discussion later turned towards lighting and maintenance costs for the roundabout itself as GDOT wanted the county or city to take over those costs while they continued paving maintenance for 382 itself.

roundabout

GDOT has been working on the roundabout project since last year, but plans began back in 2016 with letters to Gilmer County and the City of Ellijay.

Current understanding is that these are the remaining steps in the project as GDOT has put some lighting on the roundabout for night traffic, but it was not seen operational over the weekend.

While the project continues these steps and clean-up, the larger portion of the project is now complete and has begun traffic flow only in the last couple of days. GDOT stated earlier this year that expectations were to complete the project over the summer. The project has seen delays through weather over the last year, but no specific details are available at this time on whether returning COVID-19 numbers or increasingly heavy rainfall in some weeks were the cause of any major delays.

Parker awarded Teacher of the Year

Community, Featured News, Featured Stories
Fannin County, Georgia, School System, Teacher of the Year, Chris Parker, Sabrina Howard, Brittany Newton, Christie Holtman, Karen Goode

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Fannin County School System honored exceptional educators in their annual celebration and named Chris Parker of Blue Ridge Elementary as Fannin County’s 2023 Teacher of the Year.

Fannin County, Georgia, School System, Teacher of the Year, Chris Parker, Sabrina Howard, Brittany Newton, Christie Holtman, Karen Goode

Chris Parker, recipient of Teacher of the Year, with school board and administration

The Teacher of the Year award was brought back this year after the school system was unable to participate in the award last year due to Covid-19.

Shannon Miller, Director of Student Services, explained that the obstacles presented to the school system last year took priority in continuing to provide students with quality education and that all the educators in Fannin County stepped up to the challenge.

“In 2022, I think everyone was teacher of the year,” Miller commented.

Every year a teacher is selected by their peers from each of Fannin County’s five schools. 

The following teachers were chosen this year as nominees for Teacher of the Year:

  • Chris Parker – Blue Ridge Elementary School
  • Christie Holtman – East Fannin Elementary School
  • Karen Goode – West Fannin Elementary School
  • Brittany Newton – Fannin County Middle School
  • Sabrina Howard – Fannin County High School

“Few recognitions rise to the level of being chosen by your peers,” Fannin County School Board Member Terry Bramlett spoke of the distinction of having been selected.

The Teacher of the Year is then selected by Pioneer RESA after vetting each of the nominees.

This year Pioneer RESA awarded runner-up to Karen Goode of West Fannin Elementary School and Teacher of the Year to Chris Parker of Blue Ridge Elementary school.

Parker will go on to represent Fannin County at the State level.

“Let me say how humbled and honored I am to represent Fannin County,” Parker said after receiving the award.

Parker, who has been with the Fannin County School System for three years, says that from the beginning he was “welcomed with open arms”.

“I have never been in a county before with such a hands-on county office,” Parker spoke of the school system’s administration.

Parker credits his success to the support he receives both at home from his wife and at work from his colleagues, which he refers to as his family away from home.

 

Featured Image : Nominees from each of Fannin County’s Schools (L-R) Sabrina Howard (FCHS), Brittany Newton (FCMS), Chris Parker (BRES), Christie Holtman (EFES), Karen Goode (WFES)

Ralston dedicates Cecil Mathews Memorial Bridge in Ellijay

Community, Featured News, Featured Stories, News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – A new sign for the Cecil Mathews Memorial Bridge stands on the roadside just at Turniptown Creek just before you get to the shops at Whitepath Commons when traveling from Ellijay. A simple brown sign stands for a man of Ellijay’s history.

Mathews

Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston speaks at the dedication ceremony of the Cecil Mathews Memorial Bridge on September 14, 2021.

On September 14, 2021, Speaker of the Georgia House of Representatives and Representative of District 7, David Ralston visited the site with family and friends of the late Cecil Mathews to dedicate the bridge over Turniptown Creek to him.

With 7 kids, six daughters and one son, Cecil Mathews was memorialized in a ceremony dedicating the bridge to his memory for his remaining family. All of his children but one were able to attend, but few had a short drive. Eldest child Maxine Clark said that many of the siblings are spread all over the southeast from Kentucky to Alabama and one still living in Ellijay.

With local leaders Post 2 Commissioner Karleen Ferguson and Chamber President/CEO Jennifer Grimmer also attending, the family listened as Speaker Ralston read the official resolution naming the bridge and delivered two duplicated signs to the family members.

Ralston said, “He was a very highly thought of person in this community.”

Mathews

During the ceremony on Tuesday, Septermber 14, 2021, the first sign was revealed for the newly dedicated Cecil Mathews Memorial Bridge over Turniptown Creek.

Mathews opened his own sawmill in Ellijay in 1965 after operating others for 15 years previous. According to the approved resolution, he later completed the total electrification of the business in 1966 which “allowed for the streamlining of production and an increase in lumber supply used in the manufacture of furniture and flooring.”

A special feat in that day, the electrification allowed for 15,000 feet of lumber to be sawed in a day with grading still done by hand. This also attracted other businesses to the county at the time and aided in modernizing the area.

Patsy Harris, one of Mathews’ daughters, accepted a bound copy of the resolution on behalf of the family.

Harris said, “Thanks be to God, there is seven of us children and we’re all still living. We’re all in our 70’s and 80’s. I appreciate what you did.”

From left to right, Maxine Clark, Joann Crotzer, Jackie Allums, James Mathews, Patsy Harris, and Susan Buckner attend the ceremony honoring their father. Not pictured is daughter Doris Hammond.

Maxine Clark of Blairsville and Mathew’s eldest daughter, chuckled as she fought back tears when asked about the sign and what it meant to see her father memorialized in the area they grew up. Amid the tearful moment she could only reply, “What do you think?”

Taking a moment, Clark eventually said, “Daddy was the best man in my life. I still can’t talk about it but I guess I’m the ‘bawl-box’ of the family.”

Each of his seven children, from eldest to youngest, are Maxine Clark, Joann Crotzer, Doris Hammond, Jackie Allums, James Mathews, Patsy Harris, and Susan Buckner.

Trump endorses Burt Jones for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia

Election, Politics, Press Release

JACKSON – Today, September 2, 2021, President Donald J. Trump endorsed conservative candidate Burt Jones for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.

Both Trump and Jones have shared and forwarded the endorsement to numerous media outlets. Jones’ campaign also attached a statement saying, “In 2016 and 2020, Burt served as President Trump’s campaign co-chair in Georgia, and he was the first elected official in Georgia to endorse the President. As President Trump’s endorsement proves, Burt is the only candidate in the race for Lieutenant Governor who will safeguard and advance the America First agenda, fight for election integrity, and deliver results for hardworking Georgians.”

JonesTrump’s endorsement stated: “State Senator Burt Jones is a Conservative warrior running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. No on has fought harder for Election Integrity than Burt, and no state needs it more. A businessman and Patriot, Burt will always stand for America First, and will help bring back Energy Independence, a Stronger Border, Low Taxes, Great Education, and Safe Cities. He will also get to the bottom of the Nov. 3 Presidential Election Scam. Burt Jones has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let the great people of Georgia down!”

In an email statement today, Burt Jones responded by saying, “I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of President Donald J. Trump in my campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. I am the only person in my race who has had the President’s back from day one, and it’s an honor to have his full support. As Lieutenant Governor, I will work to advance the President’s America First agenda and continue to grow our economy, improve our schools, secure our elections, and keep Georgia safe. I look forward to traveling the state and meeting with the good people of Georgia as we work toward a big win in November 2022.”

 

Trump endorses Burt Jones for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia

Election, Featured News, Featured Stories

JACKSON – Today, September 2, 2021, President Donald J. Trump endorsed conservative candidate Burt Jones for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia.

Both Trump and Jones have shared and forwarded the endorsement to numerous media outlets. Jones’ campaign also attached a statement saying, “In 2016 and 2020, Burt served as President Trump’s campaign co-chair in Georgia, and he was the first elected official in Georgia to endorse the President. As President Trump’s endorsement proves, Burt is the only candidate in the race for Lieutenant Governor who will safeguard and advance the America First agenda, fight for election integrity, and deliver results for hardworking Georgians.”

JonesTrump’s endorsement stated: “State Senator Burt Jones is a Conservative warrior running for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. No on has fought harder for Election Integrity than Burt, and no state needs it more. A businessman and Patriot, Burt will always stand for America First, and will help bring back Energy Independence, a Stronger Border, Low Taxes, Great Education, and Safe Cities. He will also get to the bottom of the Nov. 3 Presidential Election Scam. Burt Jones has my Complete and Total Endorsement. He will not let the great people of Georgia down!”

In an email statement today, Burt Jones responded by saying, “I am honored and humbled to receive the endorsement of President Donald J. Trump in my campaign for Lieutenant Governor of Georgia. I am the only person in my race who has had the President’s back from day one, and it’s an honor to have his full support. As Lieutenant Governor, I will work to advance the President’s America First agenda and continue to grow our economy, improve our schools, secure our elections, and keep Georgia safe. I look forward to traveling the state and meeting with the good people of Georgia as we work toward a big win in November 2022.”

 

Gilmer returns to high transmission designation with COVID

Featured News, Featured Stories, News

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – Gilmer, like most all of North Georgia, is seeing resurgence in the COVID-19 virus, whether from the original virus or some variant.

According to reports from the Georgia Department of Public Health, Gilmer saw 15 new cases yesterday alone. In the last two weeks, it has seen 61 new cases. Along with this, the Georgia DPH has once again put Gilmer on the High Transmission counties list.

High TransmissionAccording to documentation on the GDPH website, they classify High Transmission with the following criteria; “14-day cases rate is >100 cases/100,000 county residents (>5 cases during this period) AND 14-day average % positive PCR tests >10% (>20 total tests performed during this period).”

The Georgia DPH also reports that Gilmer has had 2,663 total cases as of August 9, 2021. Gilmer is among the vast majority of counties in Georgia with this classification, now, as only eight counties in the entire state still remain outside of that criteria. Last week, there were nearly 30 counties not classified as High Transmission.

Further breaking down their statistics, the Department reclassified the counties into three classifications of Green, Yellow, and Red based on their positivity rates in testing. Gilmer received a Yellow Classification. Yellow means “5-10% PCR positivity during previous 14 days.”

Gilmer has seen a 9.7% Positivity of the 432 tests performed in the last 14 days.

Along with the increasing numbers within the county, discussion is increasing at state and federal levels about pushing further with mandates than what has been previously seen.

On August 3, 2021, the North Georgia Health District published an article that stated, “In areas with substantial and high transmission, the CDC recommends that everyone (including fully vaccinated individuals) wear a mask in public indoor settings to help prevent spread of COVID-19 and the Delta variant.”

FYN has confirmed with some local public safety authorities in nearby counties that local discussions have already started for reinstating suggested preventative measures and restrictions in some areas.

Gilmer Schools have also been monitoring the numbers consistently as Superintendent Dr. Brian Ridley said they look at several reports from the daily numbers to specifically school age children from the Department of Health. Dr. Ridley noted that the schools are, again, working closely with the Department of Public Health as these numbers trend upward. From webinars to communicating with the local branch of the Georgia Department of Health, the system is continuing to stay connected with both medical experts and surrounding counties and their BOEs according the Ridley.

He also noted that some steps are already being taken as suggested mask usage and separation in the cafeteria are just some of the small steps they have taken so far. While he said that the virtual academy is available as a back-up, they have no immediate plans for usage as a response to the numbers. He also stated that mask usage is suggested to students. The school mandate was lifted towards the final few weeks on the last school year.

Board of Commissioners Chairman Charlie Paris has also commented saying he monitors the county’s numbers. With the county’s regular meetings starting tomorrow morning at 9 a.m. and Thursday at 6 p.m., there is no planned discussion nor any immediate response in how the meeting will be held.

Gilmer has seen a one day spike of 15 cases, but it barely compares to January as cases peaked on July 15, 2020, with 49 new cases. Both July 2020 and January 2021 say 7 day averages topping 15 to 20 new cases. Comparatively, August 9, 2021, saw a 7 day average of 6.9 cases.

The Department of Health has put the majority of counties into the High Transmission category while local boards are opting for caution and analyzation to see if this is simply a small spike, or a trend towards something more.

Rodriguez arrested in Delgado murder, extradition could mean trial in Georgia

Featured News, Featured Stories

CHERRY LOG, Ga. – Joint releases continue from the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) as another arrest has been made for involvement with April 2021 murder of Rossana Delgado, this time for Juan Ayala-Rodriguez.

Reaching all the way back to the original warrants for their alleged involvement, the GBI, working in partnership with the United States Marshal’s Service (USMS) Atlanta and San Diego, coordinated the transfer to U.S. custody of Juan Ayala-Rodriguez, age 35, after his arrest in Mexico.

Rossana Delgado, Rodriguez

Rossana Delgado was discovered in April of 2021 in Cherry Log where she was allegedly murdered.

On April 24, 2021, FYN reported Rodriquez, of Gainesville, Georgia, along with three other suspects, as wanted in connection to the murder. Later, in May 2021, reports came of the arrest of two of those original four alongside a fifth suspect. Now, Rodriquez is the third of the original four arrested.

According to the GBI, “Rodriguez was arrested in Durango, Mexico on Saturday, June 26, 2021.  The USMS-San Diego and Customs and Border Protection oversaw the transfer of Rodriguez to USMS custody and subsequent detention at a California facility. Rodriguez is pending extradition to Georgia to face murder charges.”

No specific information is available on which court Rodriguez may face the charges in. Delgado was last seen in Doraville, Georgia on April 17, 2021. Her husband and authorities tracked her phone as a possible location of Delgado to Covington Highway, which is more on the southeastern side of Atlanta. Eventually, her body was found in a residence in Cherry Log, Georgia, in Northeast Gilmer County.

The GBI stated, “USMS and the United States Department of Homeland Security (HSI) have worked diligently to assist the GBI and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office in this case and in this arrest.  The GBI and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office are very grateful for the support and efforts of the USMS, HSI and all agencies involved in effecting this arrest.”

The GBI and the Gilmer County Sheriff’s Office continue to actively investigate this case and the individuals involved in the murder of Rossana Delgado.  With three of the four original warrants executed and in custody, the fifth suspect arrested and in custody, the GBI asserted that a coordinated effort to locate and arrest the other three murder suspects, Mario Alberto Barbosa-Juarez, Carolina Jazmin Rodriguez-Ramirez and Maria Chavez is active and ongoing.

As always, the GBI requests that anyone with information to please contact the GBI. Tips can also be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app.

RCut funding causes debate among City Officials

Featured News, Featured Stories

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The “look of impropriety” fueled debate over the City of Blue Ridge’s recent involvement in improvements to Highway 515.

Previously the University of North Georgia (UNG) had approached the city looking for help in obtaining funds to create an RCut in the median of Hwy. 515. This RCut would allow motorists to make a left hand turn off the highway and into the entrance of the campus.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, RCut, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, University of North Georgia, John Kieffer, Senator, Steve Gooch, LMIG, grant, funding

Almost completed RCut on Hwy. 515 allowing access to the UNG campus.

GDOT (Georgia Department of Transportation) looked into the project and determined there was a need for the RCut due to potential traffic flow and for safety reasons.

“The developer couldn’t pull a DOT permit,” Mayor Donna Whitener stated as to the City’s initial involvement but clarified that the request for the RCut came from UNG.

Councilmember Nathan Fitts stated that he had no issue with the City being a vehicle for obtaining the permit but took issue with taxpayer dollars being spent on the project.

GDOT initially slated $150,000 towards providing the RCut this funding came through LMIG (Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant) and developer, John Kieffer put in approximately $48,000 towards surveying and engineering fees.

The low bid for the project came in at $220,978.61. UNG agreed to contribute $35,000 to the RCut project but this still left a shortfall of $35,978.61.

UNG approached both the City of Blue Ridge and the Fannin County Commissioners asking for funds to cover the shortfall but neither entity would agree to pay with local tax dollars.

“I’ve not even officially got word of that and I’m a councilmember. No one has ever given me notice,” Councilmember Rhonda Haight explained that none of the council was notified that funds to complete the project had been gathered and wanted an explanation as to where and how the funds came about.

The remaining funds came through another LMIG grant from GDOT in the amount of $35,000 and UNG made up the remainder $978.61.

Fitts conveyed his disappointment that the remaining funds came from taxpayers, even if at a state level: “This is a developer expense. It’s always been a developer expense and it is not right for the city taxpayers and in my opinion the state taxpayers to pay for a developer’s entrance.”

The developer is assumed to substantially increase the monetary value of the remaining parcels for sale by obtaining the RCut according to Fitts. 

“Me and Rhonda talked to Mr. Keiffer and said that on our watch we would not approve it through the city,” Fitts said, explaining that he didn’t feel tax dollars should be spent for the financial gain of a private developer and that projects of this nature should be at the developer’s expense.

Fitts stated that in private conversation the developer had initially said he would be paying for the expenses but that the narrative changed.

“The college did need it, but the conversation that was told to us was that he (Kieffer) needed help from us because he had lost money on that property he had sold to the college,” Fitts said of the ordeal adding that taxpayers should not be on the hook for a developer’s bad business decision.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, RCut, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, University of North Georgia, John Kieffer, Senator, Steve Gooch, LMIG, grant, funding

Signage advertising remaining parcels for sell in the development.

“It is a look again of impropriety that the City keeps getting itself into, that we all the sudden are paying for a personal developer to have an RCut,” Haight added.

Evidence of the boost to property value and appeal can be seen by a recent sign placed that advertises the RCut coming soon as well as the remaining tracts for sale.

“Are we going to have to pay for all the developers from here on out?” Haight questioned if the City would be setting a precedent for future transactions, and added, “As a state taxpayer I’m a little appalled that my money went to pay for this private RCut.”

The second LMIG in the amount of $35,000 came from the state when Whitener spoke with state level representatives about the issue. This was done without council knowledge according to Haight and Fitts.

“Thanks to Steve Gooch and GDOT. I really appreciate their help,” Whitener said, explaining that the state came in and saw a need for the RCut or would not have given the go ahead on the project.

Whitener also pointed out that LMIG funds could be used anywhere in the state.

“I’m glad that those state tax dollars are being allotted for our area,” Whitener stated, “It is going toward improving safety for the people driving down 515, one of our busiest roads.”

 

***Featured Image is sign placed by real estate agent representing the developer advertising remaining property and RCut

Delgado case updates with new warrant and suspect

Featured News, Featured Stories, News
Encarnacion

CHERRY LOG, Ga. – New information is continuing to come out from authorities on the April 20, 2021, discovery of the murder of Rosanna Delgado.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigations has issued yet another warrant in the investigation, this time for Maria Katherine Chavez Encarnacion, 28, of Marietta, GA. The warrant was officially issued for murder due to her alleged involvement.

According to authorities, Encarnacion’s last known location is Mexico. They did not say exactly how Encarnacion was involved in the murder.

As always, officials are asking anyone with any information about Encarnacion’s current location to contact the GBI.

Tips can be submitted by calling 1-800-597-TIPS(8477), online at https://gbi.georgia.gov/submit-tips-online, or by downloading the See Something, Send Something mobile app. If anyone sees Encarnacion, please contact 911.

This case has been ongoing since late April, but it has seen consistent updates as GBI, Homeland Security, and Gilmer Sheriff have supported and continued investigations that started with a welfare check at a Cherry Log Residence. Since then, they have issued seven warrants for arrest, Encarnacion being the seventh. They have also made three arrests of those warrants and one related arrest.

As the investigation nears two months, this latest warrant could indicate new information or changes in the case, as the GBI continues updating us, we will continue to update the story.

Authorities offer statement to warn of possible severe weather conditions

News
weather

GILMER COUNTY, Ga. – The National Weather Service (NWS), Georgia Emergency Management Agency (GEMA), and Gilmer County Public Safety are alerting citizens to a possible hazardous weather condition over the coming weekend.

According to the statement released, areas of North Georgia could see increased risks of Flooding “Saturday night through Tuesday.” Public Safety told FYN that they receive their information directly from and work closely with these agencies like GEMA in preparing and readying the local response.

Authorities over the North Georgia Region are currently looking for more information to better estimate the exact amount of rainfall. The current information predicts between 3 and 7 inches of rainfall but the NWS did say there remains a large amount of uncertainty regarding the rainfall totals.

The NWS stated, “The combination of a Gulf tropical low and a cold front will create a one-two punch for Georgia beginning late Saturday and continuing through Tuesday. There remains a good deal of model uncertainty with the timing and coverage of the heaviest precipitation and changes to the forecast rainfall totals can be expected with subsequent forecast packages.”

GEMA’s release was also shared by local Public Safety as they are attempting to give citizens information about the possibility. The release stated, “The highest amounts of 5 to 7 inches are expected over portions of north and northeast Georgia where the topography will enhance rainfall activity.”

Part of the reason for concern comes as the recent storms in the area have kept streamflow normal at most river gage locations. The heat and dryness could help soil absorb some rain, but “persistent heavy rainfall over an area will create runoff issues quickly, especially across urban areas and north Georgia’s complex terrain.”

With this advisory, authorities are suggesting that people consider the possibility and prepare by cleaning drainage systems on or around their homes and property. As Gilmer is heavily rural, quickly accumulating rainfall can also produce widespread flooding of smaller, fast-responding creeks in the area.

Stay alert to changing forecasts. “A Flash Flood or Flood Watch may be issued for portions of north and central Georgia in the next 24 to 48 hours if forecast totals remain similar.”

Gilmer has had a number of devastating storms in recent years, many locals know which creeks and rivers will rapidly rise, for those aware and those unaware, Public Safety is sharing information at this point to keep citizens from potentially being caught off guard.

Panter and Fitts give their opinion on recent affordable housing vote

Featured News, Featured Stories
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Affordable Housing, Beverly J. Searles Foundation, Philip Searles, Housing Authority, Traver Aiken, HUD, Family, Senior, Age Restrictive, Mineral Springs Drive, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Planning Commission, Family Connection, Sherry Morris

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Councilmembers Mike Panter and Nathan Fitts are sharing their reasoning behind a recent controversial vote on a proposed housing project presented by the Beverly J. Searles Foundation.

The following are direct statements from Panter and Fitts regarding their votes and opinions on the matter.

From Councilmember Mike Panter

Why I Voted No

To the Citizens of Blue Ridge, I have been asked multiple times sine May 11th, why I didn’t support the rezoning request and the affordable housing development with the Searles Foundation.Blue Ridge, Georgia, Affordable Housing, Beverly J. Searles Foundation, Philip Searles, Housing Authority, Traver Aiken, HUD, Family, Senior, Age Restrictive, Mineral Springs Drive, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Planning Commission, Family Connection, Sherry Morris

Let me begin by saying I do and have always supported the need for affordable housing in the City of Blue Ridge and Fannin County. However, just because you support something doesn’t mean you should automatically vote for something that is going to affect the citizens for the next 50 years. You must be able to support why you believe that this project is best for the city residents. Especially when over 100 citizens who live within a mile of the proposed project have signed a petition against the project.

When you stop and think about an additional 171 rental units being built and 200 additional automobiles daily, between two schools, on a heavily traveled road that has no traffic lights, turn lanes, street lights, sidewalks, roundabouts, any type of traffic study, or a 5-to-10-year strategic growth plan, it doesn’t make sense. You say to yourself there has to be a better location.

This project was started by the Haights on January 28, 2021. The variance application was not applied for until February 26, 2021. It was briefly introduced to the Council April 13, 2021 without any detailed information. It was presented to the zoning and planning board May 2, 2021 and to the council for final vote May 11, 2021. A lot of people didn’t understand that this was a land swap instead of a traditional purchase and sell. In my opinion both boards should have at least 30 days to research and verify their information before voting.

I was the only council member present at the one-hour meeting. Unlike other members of the audience, I was not allowed to speak or ask any questions because I am an elected official. Therefore, the majority of questions I would have asked were not addressed. One member of the Planning Commission was 30 minutes late to the meeting but still felt that they had enough information to make a motion to approve this 20 – 30-million-dollar project.

Is the Searles Foundation the right partner/developer for our city residents if we can only choose one?

  • Who are the partners that will be involved in the Searles Project?
  • Could the project ever be transferred or sold to another entity? What type of entity?
  • Who manages the project? Fairway Management Company? Haight House, LLC? Other?

Even though our current water and sewer is in good shape, the sewer plant was built 23 years ago and is currently in the design phase for a 5-million-dollar rehab. Can it handle another 171 apartments within the Mineral Springs area over the next 3 years?

What effect does President Biden’s 213-billion-dollar proposal for infrastructure and housing have on this project? Will the developer only allow current Fannin County citizens or will they be required to open up the development to qualified candidates within the state, southeast or country?

The following is a list of questions I have for the Foundation and Zoning Board.

  1. If we are going to have only one development within a 2-3 mile radius of the City, is this the best location?
  2. Will the current residents be forced to move?
  3. What is included in the rent? Water, power, cable?
  4. It has been stated that the Searles Foundation minimum rent is $600/month. The majority of residents are currently paying less than $300/month. Does their rent continue to stay the same?
  5. What out of pocket expense will the city residents and tax payers be responsible for?
  6. How do individuals with low to no income currently living in the woods behind businesses, cars, etc. afford the Searles Foundation project?
  7. What is the time period for construction?
  8. Will all of the trees be removed on the 15 acres?
  9. Will a center turn lane be added? If so when will the road be widened?
  10. Will sidewalks, traffic lights, streetlights or roundabouts be added?
  11. Who will be our new city residents? And can we have the answer to this question in a contract?
  12. Offering $40 thousand for road modifications at the end of Mineral Springs will by no means cover the expense. A traffic light and a roundabout would cost in excess of $100,000. Who pays the extra expense? City or County?
  13. Why is the Housing Authority pushing a 50-year contract when the current residents will be moved to the Searles project? There would be no need for this contract.
  14. Would the existing housing units be owned by the Haights and turned into personal rental income or torn down and developed into a trailer park?
  15. Can the Searles Foundation give us a plan or contract of what the current housing authority units will look like in 10 years?

These questions summarize why I requested an additional 2 – 3 days time before I was required to vote. How could I just vote Yes? I believe all of these questions need to be answered before a vote can take place which will affect our community for the next 50 years.

From Councilmember Nathan Fitts

I am extremely disappointed in some of our city elected officials and with the denial of the zoning for the affordable housing at the council meeting last week. To answer some of the outstanding questions I’ve heard and saw I wanted to outline the factual information as a council member. I know there have been some questions on why we didn’t table the vote for the rezoning.Blue Ridge, Georgia, Affordable Housing, Beverly J. Searles Foundation, Philip Searles, Housing Authority, Traver Aiken, HUD, Family, Senior, Age Restrictive, Mineral Springs Drive, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Planning Commission, Family Connection, Sherry Morris

First of all, I don’t know why we would have tabled the vote as that was one of the main objectives of the council meeting that was on the agenda. I am the council member who made the motion to APPROVE the zoning contingent upon all of the conditions that had been recommended to us by the Planning Commission and Zoning Board previously who had already heard the request. At a recent previous zoning hearing, the mayor actually violated the city’s meeting policy by allowing it to be tabled and when the question was raised at the meeting about the legalities of being able to table it, I was not willing to participate in anything other than what I knew to be the law and policy in place. Additionally, I had legal counsel who had advised me that we had to vote. Unfortunately, our city attorney was not present and was not available to provide legal advice at the time, so I made the motion and proceeded by the policy that was set for such which is that we were to vote immediately following the hearing. That rule is outlined on page 4 as Item 5 in the Meeting Rules of Procedures. Additionally, all council members had all of the information to review ahead of time. As a matter of fact, all of them had talked with the developer personally, got questions answered, and had from the zoning hearing time frame to the council meeting date to research and investigate any matters regarding this zoning request so a decision could be made the night of the hearing as required. There have been rumors that this hearing was “rushed” or “pushed” through in a matter of a couple of weeks, and I can attest to the fact that such statements are untrue. The amount of time for it was longer than what was required by law and this has been being discussed for many weeks. If there are any proven facts to the contrary, I have not been privy to it and have no knowledge of such.

What is most disappointing, and heartbreaking is that one of the biggest opportunities in the history of this county, in my opinion, for the local community was lost. The need for affordable housing is real and needed in a bad kind of way. The chance for us as the city council and as the community as a whole to help the “locals” was there and stripped away due to political and personal reasons in my opinion. I might also add from knowing all of the facts and information surrounding this project as a whole, I feel that was the reason and reason alone that the mayor voted no for the project is out of spite as one of the parties involved which is ashamed in my opinion. This was not about her and anything political this was about doing what is needed in the area and doing the right thing for the people, something the mayor has lost sight of over the last few years it seems. The reason the mayor publicly gave as she voted no was because she wished she just had some more information and had some numbers for the sewer. I know my jaw probably dropped open when that was the reason given because the mayor is or should be very aware of the city’s infrastructure information as it was her herself who just a couple of weeks ago quoted the exact information at a city council meeting and also as the previous zoning hearing for another developer that she was now acting like she didn’t know anything about and had questions regarding. Well for the record, the question regarding the sewer, was information that she knows and all of us know and have known. As I made the statement at the meeting, the sewer upgrades the city has to do regardless and already have planned to do. Below is a snapshot of our master infrastructure needs for both water and sewer which you will see both of the items in question on that the mayor didn’t know anything about or have recollection of. Perhaps she forgot this spreadsheet even existed because the Mineral Springs sewer and Aska pump station have been on a list for repair/replacement for quite some time and even talked about publicly in March when this information was provided to the public. The mayor herself even spoke about it at the infrastructure meeting we had in April but now a month later for this situation she knows nothing about it. Very interesting. I would highly suggest going back and watching the meeting or reading the minutes of the meeting on infrastructure and you’ll see her concerns stated for the denial were already addressed and she’s fully aware of that. Please listen to the meeting of the April 21, 2021 meeting and compare it to Tuesday night’s council meeting. One would think it was two different Mayors speaking at each meeting. One sounds highly educated about our sewer/water and the other she sounds like she has not clue as to what is going on with it and is confused with questions. So, what was the real reason??? Is she really just totally out of the loop and neglecting her job duties as CEO of the city or did she just use that as an excuse and play dumb so she could vote against it? Now that everything is being researched and dissected and she’s been caught in lie after lie, I would think she would have learned some valuable lessons, however, it doesn’t seem she has. Each of you can do your own research, watch and listen and you can make your own conclusion.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Affordable Housing, Beverly J. Searles Foundation, Philip Searles, Housing Authority, Traver Aiken, HUD, Family, Senior, Age Restrictive, Mineral Springs Drive, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Planning Commission, Family Connection, Sherry Morris

The water and sewer departments are both departments in which I am over so I can speak with firsthand knowledge of these items. These have been planned to be done and are slated to be completed by 2022 regardless of if this project had gotten approved or denied. The Aska pump station already has a task release number and will be applied for through grant at the beginning of next year. The cost is around $1,000,000. The Mineral Springs storm water problem is estimated at $500,000. It too is slated to be completed and corrected by 2021, but we will know more actually next week. Matt Smith, the city’s engineer from Carter and Slope, said that next week we will run another camera and he thinks the lines will have to be replaced as they are too small. He feels the high end of the project is $500,000. As stated, this is all in the works to be completed according to the plan by 2021 and is and has already been planned. The grant for the Aska Pump station would actually benefit from showing that we could have been adding more customers to this area. It shows we will have more ability to pay for these upgrades. Regardless of the project going forward or not, these two things HAVE TO BE DONE! There is no way around it.

In my opinion whether it be that used for the excuse or something else, there was going to be an excuse to vote no because of the underlying motif behind the denial. I had calls from people prior to the meeting trying to get what the true facts were about this project and the developers behind it as people were stating that they were called from the mayor personally giving information and her opinion on the project that were not even factual and were discrediting parties involved and doing what she’s been known to do best which is creating “chaos” to push her agenda. In addition to a personal vendetta towards some of the parties involved she also has been at odds with and has a strong dislike for the director of the housing authority for years. As a matter of fact, the housing authority as of this very minute still doesn’t have a signed coop agreement from the city that has expired, and they’ve been working diligently on getting done for months and months if not well over a year as I’ve been involved the last few months. Every time we get everything done and ready to vote and sign off on it, there’s another hurdle thrown up or excuse to delay it even further. Again, all power plays and personal dislikes which are putting the citizens and public’s best interest in the crossfire which is shameful and disgusting. For those people who are living in the tents around town, in campers and in tractor trailers, the homeless, and those living with family members because they can’t find housing and affordable housing at that in this area, they are the ones that this effected the most. This could have made an impact on their lives and it was an opportunity lost and only for the reasons for the mayor to flex her muscles for political and personal vendettas. I want to thank all of those people who have put so much time and effort in trying to get affordable housing in this area. It is needed way beyond what most people who live locally even realize. I hope that we can all do our part to help those in need and that there will be a new solution for affordable housing at some point in the near future for the residents of this area.

Delgado case updates with woman’s identity and arrest warrant

Featured News, Featured Stories, News
person of interest, warrant

CHERRY LOG, Ga. – Investigators have confirmed the identity of, and issued a murder warrant for, a woman previously reported in the Rossana Delgado murder case as a person of interest that the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was seeking to question.

Originally releasing a video of an unnamed woman alongside Rossana Delgado in a Ross store, the GBI requested the public’s help in identifying her. Now, the GBI has released her name. But more than just the name, a murder warrant has been issued for Carolina Jazmin Rodriguez-Ramirez, 28 of Oklahoma, for her involvement in the murder of Rossana Delgado.

The GBI originally stated that the woman, now known to be Rodriguez-Ramirez, was one of the last people to interact with the victim long before authorities discovered the name of the fifth suspect when they arrested three people involved in the murder. Now, investigators have identified Rodriguez-Ramirez as the woman with Rossana Delgado in the Ross and Mercado Fresco video previously released in this case.

The video, taken on April 16, 2021, shows the now sixth suspect allegedly involved in the murder according to the warrant.

The GBI stated, “Rodriguez-Ramirez’ location is currently unknown, but she is believed to be in Mexico with at least one other suspect, Mario Alberto Barbosa-Juarez.”

The GBI press release also stated that additional charges are anticipated in addition to the murder warrant. They have already confirmed involvement and partnerships with Homeland Security Investigations (HSI) Atlanta, HSI Harlingen, Texas and Attaché Matamoros, Mexico. This was how they coordinated their three previous arrests in the case, all three of which took place in Mexico.

Police and Investigators have continually asked for the public’s help in identifying or finding additional information on suspects allegedly involved in the case, but have not commented specifically on if this identification came from a public tip or through the investigators themselves. More information is continuing to become available from the GBI and will be posted to FYN when available.

Management of City Parking will not go out to bid

City Council, Featured News, Featured Stories
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Parking, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Executive Parking Systems, Shelli WoJohn, Bid, Process, Contract

Blue Ridge, Ga. – Tempers flared again as Blue Ridge City Council voted on whether it would be in the City’s best interest to put the management of municipal parking out to bid.

In a second Special Called Meeting held on Friday, May 21, 2021, Council Member Nathan Fitts proposed that the City release Executive Parking Systems (EPS) from their current contract managing the City’s parking and put the duties of parking management out to bid.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Parking, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Executive Parking Systems, Shelli WoJohn, Bid, Process, Contract

Payment kiosk installed by EPS for 24/7 collections.

Fitts stated his reasoning for his proposal was that by not placing the service out to bid there was a look of impropriety in allowing the contract to continue without any competition and that EPS was in violation of the terms that had been agreed upon.

“The fact that this agreement only applied to special events is further confirmed by the audio of the City Council meeting in October 2019 when the council voted on this issue,” Fitts said, explaining the breach of contract.

According to Fitts the agreement with EPS was for the company to handle Special Events parking only, not day to day collections that the company is currently providing.

Council Member Rhonda Haight played audio clips from a previous meeting between City Council and the Downtown Development Authority where Fitts does clarify that EPS would be used for Special Events only.

Fitts said that EPS continuing to collect money for parking that was not from Special Events was in fact illegal.

Fitts stated, “The council has a duty to the citizens to immediately stop these unauthorized funds that are being collected by Executive Parking.”

During discussion, fellow Council Member Mike Panter referred to an email sent by City Attorney James Balli that stated “In this instance, the parking contract is not required to be submitted to the sealed bid process”.

The current contract between the City of Blue Ridge and EPS states of parking that EPS will furnish duties “as needed or requested by the City” and that EPS would collect “20% of the Net Operating income from each event, which is the total income made per event minus EPS employee expenses”.

EPS had presented the City with an updated contract changing the wording of these two statements to duties furnished would be “24 hours a day/7 days a week/ 365 days a year” and collecting “25% of the Net Operating Income each month from all City Properties, which is the total income made per month per location”.

The updated contract, however, was never approved by council.

“I know what the contract says,” Mayor Donna Whitener expressed when questioned if she understood the contract,  “It says as needed and you all needed it.”

Fitts responded to Whitener saying that her opinion is invalid, “You have a conflict of interest because you sold them a piece of property. You’re in violation of the Charter.”

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Parking, Fannin County, City Council, Post 1, Harold Herdon, Post 2, Rhonda Haight, Post 3, Mike Panter, Post 4, Robbie Cornelius, Post 5, Nathan Fitts, Mayor, Donna Whitener, Attorney, James Balli, Executive Parking Systems, Shelli WoJohn, Bid, Process, Contract

EPS signage located in municipal parking off of Mountain Street.

Shelli Wojohn, General Counsel at Valet Vault & Executive Parking Systems, also spoke up saying, “An event is every time we operate as per stated in the contract.”

“So every day is an event in Blue Ridge?” Haight questioned WoJohn.

As the meeting began to unravel, Whitener tried to adjourn but Haight said adjournment would not take place since a motion had already been made and the Council was in the middle of a vote.

Cesar Martinez, Chairman of the Downtown Development Authority, was asked his opinion since he had been present throughout much of the discussions related to the City’s parking.

“In my opinion, and I am not a lawyer,” Martinez responded, “When we let them put the parking meter up in the city municipal lot that was under the request of the City. They were doing it as needed and requested by the City.”

Panter and Council Member Harold Herndon voted against putting the service out to bid.

“They’ve done a good job. There was a need. Income has been good,” Herndon explained his position, “I don’t think the City at this time of the year can afford a delay or holding up services for any length of time.” 

During fiscal year 2020 the City made $65,116.87 in revenues collected by EPS.

With two opposing votes (Panter and Herndon) and two in favor (Haight and Fitts), a tie breaking vote was cast by Mayor Whitener against bidding out parking management. Council Member Robbie Cornelius was not present for the meeting.

Haight went on record that she felt the Whitener’s vote was a direct conflict of interest due to a real estate transaction between the Mayor and EPS. 

Haight also stated of EPS continuing to collect revenues everyday and not just for Special Events, “Right now in my opinion they (EPS) are taking money that doesn’t belong to them and that’s theft.”

Back to Top