Allen Wigington convicted of 44 felonies and 5 misdemeanors

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Judge Allen Wigington, indicted

JASPER, Ga. – Arrested in January of 2020, former Chief Magistrate Judge for Pickens County, Allen Wigington was convicted recently on his charges racketeering, forgery, and theft. Now serving a 15 year total sentence. However, he is expected to only spend 5 years in prison.

According to the state, Attorney General Chris Carr announced that the office’s Prosecution Division has concluded its case against Judge William “Allen” Wigington.

They said, “He was found guilty of 1 count of Racketeering, 3 counts of Fourth Degree Forgery, 5 counts of Theft by Taking, 39 counts of Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Card, and 1 Count of Violation of Oath of Office. In total, his crimes amounted to 44 felonies and 5 misdemeanors. He was sentenced to 15 years in prison.”

The Pickens County Sheriff’s Office worked alongside the Georgia Bureau of Investigation in the case reaching all the way back to 2016. According to the the Georgia Attorney General’s Office, the investigation began when a local non-profit organization noticed that Judge Wigington had paid his personal credit card bill using the non-profit’s bank account. He reportedly made several questionable purchases for instance he made three separate transactions of $923, $848.31, and $317 from Pickens County Magistrate Court to give to a nonprofit with the “intention of depriving owner of said property.” In reports of the crimes investigated, it was stated that he charged $96.27, $137.82, and $343.84 on Pickens County government card for personal expenses at Hampton Inn in Kingsland, Ga, Doubletree by Hilton at Atlanta Airport, and Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Fla. It was also discovered that he had been double billing the county for travel reimbursements. The Attorney General’s Office also specifically noted that “Judge Wigington also stole 200 dollars that was designated to purchase a suit for a child whose family could not afford to purchase it.”

Attorney General Chris Carr, Wigington

Attorney General Chris Carr

Attorney General Chris Carr stated in a press release, “Mr. Wigington violated the public’s trust in the worst way, and he will now serve time for his deceitful behavior. I commend the work of our Prosecution Division, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office for uncovering the extreme lengths that Mr. Wigington went through to defraud his community. The theft of taxpayer funds will not go unpunished, and we will continue to root out this type of public corruption in our state.”

When the investigation became public and a GBI Warrant was executed to search his office on January 29, 2020, authorities reported that Judge Allen Wigington turned himself in and later resigned his position as Judge.

Though the Attorney General’s Office notes a 15-year sentence, it was stated in their release, “He will serve 5 in custody, followed by the remainder on probation.”

The Office of the Attorney General provides the following case notes:

Incident 1

Judge William “Allen” Wigington was appointed Chief Magistrate Judge of Pickens County in May of 2011. He resigned in February of 2020 related to these charges.

In March of 2019, Judge Allen Wigington was a member of a Masonic Lodge in Jasper, Georgia known as the Blaine Lodge. He held the position of treasurer. At the March meeting of the Lodge, the Lodge secretary noticed that there was a discrepancy in the Lodge bank account. There was supposed to be $8,000 in the account, but the bank account balance was only approximately $5,900. Examination showed that Wigington had paid his personal Chase credit card bill out of the Lodge account in the amount of $2,118.37. The secretary immediately sent a text message to Wigington who advised that the account must have been hacked and that he would take care of the matter the next day. Wigington contacted the secretary the next day and advised that the bank refused to help Wigington, and the bank told him that he would have to contact Chase to solve the problem. As a follow up, Wigington told the secretary that Chase said that they couldn’t directly deposit the fraud reimbursement in the Lodge’s account. Therefore, Wigington planned to have Chase send the money to the Courthouse, and Wigington would reimburse the Lodge through the courthouse.

Wigington thereafter wrote three checks from Pickens County Magistrate Court account to cover the Lodge’s loss. The three checks totaled $2,188.37, which was more than was drawn out of the Lodge’s account. The Lodge secretary immediately noticed the discrepancy and knew that Wigington had lied to him. The secretary communicated the issue to another Lodge member.

That member confronted Wigington at the courthouse. Wigington told the member that he received the reimbursement checks from Chase, but that his clerk accidentally deposited them in the Magistrate Court’s account, and that he reimbursed it from the Magistrate Court’s account. Wigington showed the member copies of the alleged checks. Eventually, Wigington changed his story saying he made an error. He said he used the Lodge’s account to pay his credit card bill.

The Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) followed up with Chase Bank in January of 2020. A subpoena to Chase found that Wigington had forged the three Chase checks that Wigington showed the member to corroborate the lie that Chase had reimbursed him for the alleged hacked account.

Incident 2

On January 28, 2020, the GBI received documentation that Wigington had purchased multiple Apple tech products on his Pickens County Magistrate Court Purchase Card (p-card) on November 19, 2018. Three of the purchases would later be substantiated as work-related, but there was not an explanation for an Apple Watch and AppleCare support.

As a result of these documents, the GBI expanded its investigation into Wigington’s p-card usage. The results found the following inappropriate expenses:

  • September 14, 2017 – Hampton Inn, Canton, Georgia
  • September 15, 2017 – New Orleans Hyatt Riverside
  • March 31, 2018 – Doubletree Hotel in Atlanta
  • February 17, 2019 – Disney Hotel
  • September 23, 2019 – Jacksonville Hotel on the way to take a cruise

Four of these hotel expenses are related to family vacations to Disney, cruises, etc.

Incident 3

The GBI and Pickens County Sheriff’s Office discovered that Wigington falsified documents to cover up his personal expenses. For example:

On July 18, 2019, Wigington documented a P-Card expense of $366.99 as an HDMI converter box, HDMI switch, and computer charging case. Normally, these would be considered appropriate expenses. However, when the Sheriff’s Office and GBI looked at the actual Amazon documentation, it was noticed that Wigington had purchased a Nintendo Switch, Apple Airpods, and an Airpod charger.

This occurred numerous times over years with Wigington purchasing everything from electronics to skin care.

Incident 4

Wigington was an associate of the High School Mock Trial program. One of the children could not afford a suit for a competition, so a local defense attorney gave Wigington $200.00 to purchase a suit for the student. Wigington pocketed the $200.00 and used his P-Card to purchase two suits from K&G: one for the student and one for himself.

Incident 5

The Violation of Oath of Office is an all-encompassing charge for his misconduct.

 

IMPACT Pickens calls for resignations from Pickens BOE

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IMPACT Pickens

JASPER, Ga. – In a meeting all there own, IMPACT Pickens, a group of citizens who have banded together against certain members of the Pickens Board of Education, called for resignation of Board Chairman Sue Finley.

They did so with a large presentation showing text messages. The massive collection of 350 pages obtained through an Open Records Request showed the text messages and statements of Finley, Young, and references to other board members. The entire presentation is available (video to the left) and the group is more than willing to offer digital copies of the texts on thumb drives.

These texts vary from fragments to whole sections of conversations. They were presented by the Impact Pickens Organization during the town hall meeting that many, including former Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend, attended. Though Dr. Townsend didn’t speak much, he did answer a couple of question from citizens about timelines and extra funds the school had.

IMPACT Pickens President Steve Lowe expressed his aggravation and frustration that board members would be “plotting” anything, but said these texts show the plans set into motion to oust Dr. Townsend as Superintendent and bring back former Superintendent Dr. Carlton Wilson. These texts, Lowe showed, happened during meetings as well as during executive sessions at times. With the main focus of the presentation on this plan to bring back Wilson, there were also other points when Chris Pence, Treasurer of IMPACT Pickens and main presenter at the Town Hall, pointed out plans to get Finley appointed Chairman and Steve Smith appointed as Vice Chairman.

IMPACT Pickens

Chris Pence shows a text message obtained through the IMPACT Pickens Open Records Request during a presentation on April 24, 2021.

While Finley was appointed to Chairman, Smith was not appointed Vice-Chair. In one text, Finley stated, “The Queen is not happy.”

Pence said this was appalling as the text references the vice-chairman appointment. He said these texts messages and the fact that board members and administrators are planning things and discussing votes and intentions to vote outside of open board meeting, constitutes SACS violations. SACS is the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. Their better known parent company, AdvancED, operates accreditations and certifications and was among the main concerns of citizens when Townsend was in the process of being terminated.

That process was drug out as citizens’ outcry over the $500,000 payout and other implications came in to focus. That process continued as the Board of Education attempted to negotiate with Townsend to find a different position in the school system for him instead of Superintendent.

With Townsend declining the offers, the Board moved forward with the buyout.

Besides Townsend, the texts included plans for the appointment of Aaron Holland, allegations about Holland, and implications for future plans. One text from Young to Finley stated, “If those two knew Aaron it wouldn’t be 4-0. Lol”

The texts evolve between Holland and Finley discussing plans and motions, willingness to do something in his first meeting, and possibly waiting until January.

Other texts openly admit to an “underground network” with orders to praise “him” to his face to ensure good evaluations while Sue says they are working as fast as they can to “correct the situation.”

Pence also posed allegations that Board Attorney Phil Landrum allowed Finley to redact certain sections of the text messages at her choosing.

Many of the texts continue following and leading towards the removal of Townsend with Finley allegedly  steering much of the operations to her own plans and desires. IMPACT Pickens highlighted only a portion of the texts in the packet, showing what they showed as the high points of the scheming.

One of the text messages from Tony Young specifically admits a meeting with “Phil” and “Amy” discussing a buyout number ready. IMPACT Pickens said this is a major issue as the text occurred on January 11, 2021 discussing buyout information and the termination of Dr. Townsend days before the emergency called three-hour executive session meeting of the Pickens BOE on January 15, 2021, or the “Emergency Called Meeting” of the Pickens BOE on January 18, 2021, discussing the termination of Dr. Rick Townsend.

IMPACT Pickens

Meeting in the Community Room, IMPACT Pickens presented their allegations against members of the Pickens Board of Education calling for recalls on April 24, 2021.

Additionally, early text messages before these emergency called meetings asked if the board should “bring Tony in before we ask Dr T to leave the room or after?”

The Organization has already spoken with SACS accreditation, Georgia’s Attorney General, and other agencies requesting investigations into the Board and these allegations.

Additionally, they are collecting signatures and moving forward with court cases of their own. Seeking board members and the Superintendent Tony Young to step down, the organization is pursuing recalls and any options they have available. They called for school personnel as well, but were warned that many teachers and staff have to worry about retaliation to their jobs or even their children in the school system.

In a separate video, Pence spoke to citizens thanking them for support. The organization operates through donations that they said they have used to acquire information such as the 350 page open records request for texts. He said, “I really think that now we’re showing the elected officials that the citizens are tired. We are tired of them wasting our money. We are tired of them not being ethical or moral.”

Lowe also commented on the response the organization has received from citizens saying, “We are really grateful for all you have done. It’s been humbling to see people come out…”

Mountain Athletic Conference Youth Basketball Tourney’s Begin

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Local Recreation Departments have concluded their regular seasons and have started preparations for post season play.

The Mountain Athletic Conference consist of Copper Basin, Chestatee, Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Hayesville, Lumpkin, Pickens, Union, White and Rabun.

The Following Locations and Dates have been selected for the Boys and Girls Mountain Athletic Conference Basketball Tourney’s.

8U 

Boys– Pickens County Recreation Department Feb 1st-Feb 4th

Girls White County Recreation Department Feb 8th and Feb 9th

 

10U  ( Select Games Live on fyntv.com)

Boys Fannin County Recreation Department Feb 8th 9th ,11th

Girls Fannin County Recreation Department Feb 8th, 9th,11th

 

12U 

Boys- Gilmer County Recreation Department Feb 12th-Feb 13th

Girls- Lumpkin County Recreation Department Feb 12th-Feb13th

 

Team FYN Sports will be broadcasting select games from the 10U Boys and 10U Girls tournament at Fannin County including both championship games

 

 

8U Boys Results 

On Monday Feb 1st, in the 8U Boys Tournament, Gilmer defeated White 15-11 and Fannin defeated Pickens 22-12 to advance. Gilmer will play Towns on Tuesday at 6:30 at Pickens Rec Department. The winner will play Fannin in the Championship on Thursday at 6:30pm.

 

 

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Three hour executive session leads to doubt for Pickens Superintendent

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Superintendent

JASPER, Ga. – Pickens County could be seeing another chapter in its ongoing Superintendent troubles over the years after a three-hour-long meeting was held almost entirely in Executive Session.

On January 16, 2021, the Pickens County Board of Education held a special called meeting posted to host both an Executive Session and General Discussion items on the Agenda.

During the meeting, it was said that the general discussion was originally put in to discuss a different topic. However, some citizens present said they were present to “show support” for Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend.

Pickens County Board of Education, Superintendent

Rick Townsend, Superintendent of Pickens County Schools

While the Board of Education spent almost all of the three hours in Executive Session, Dr. Townsend was not present for a large part of the meeting as he was seen exiting the room where the executive session was being held.

The only results of the meeting that were publicly stated as the Board returned from their executive session was the calling of yet another Special Called Meeting for this Monday, January 18, 2021.

However, sources have messaged FYN saying they are expecting the School Board to be dismissing or firing Dr. Townsend on Monday.

The board said in their Friday meeting, “We will have a Called Meeting on Monday at 3 p.m. It will be published over the weekend.” This means they will be meeting on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, although there is yet to be an agenda or meeting placed on the Pickens Calendar on their website as of the writing of this article.

Pickens County Man Arrested for the Sexual Exploitation of Children

News, Press Release
sexual exploitation

Jasper, GA (February 8, 2021) – On Thursday, February 4, 2021, Pickens County resident, Danny Wright, age 57, was charged with one count of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material) and three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material) by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit. The GBI CEACC Unit began an investigation into Wright’s online activity after receiving a Cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the possession and distribution of suspected child pornography by Wright via the internet. This investigation led to a search warrant at Wright’s home in Jasper, Georgia, and the arrest of Wright on February 4, 2021. The GBI was assisted in the execution of the search warrant by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. Evidence from the search warrant conducted on February 4, 2021, led to additional criminal charges against Wright on February 5, 2021. On February 5, 2021, Wright was charged with Child Molestation and Invasion of Privacy.

Wright is currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail.

This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade. The ICAC Program, created by the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.

Anyone with information about other cases of child exploitation is asked to contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit at 404-270-8870. 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.

Pickens County Man Arrested for the Sexual Exploitation of Children

News, Press Release
sexual exploitation

Jasper, GA (February 8, 2021) – On Thursday, February 4, 2021, Pickens County resident, Danny Wright, age 57, was charged with one count of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Possession of Child Sexual Abuse Material) and three counts of Sexual Exploitation of Children (Distribution of Child Sexual Abuse Material) by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes (CEACC) Unit. The GBI CEACC Unit began an investigation into Wright’s online activity after receiving a Cybertip from the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) regarding the possession and distribution of suspected child pornography by Wright via the internet. This investigation led to a search warrant at Wright’s home in Jasper, Georgia, and the arrest of Wright on February 4, 2021. The GBI was assisted in the execution of the search warrant by the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office. Evidence from the search warrant conducted on February 4, 2021, led to additional criminal charges against Wright on February 5, 2021. On February 5, 2021, Wright was charged with Child Molestation and Invasion of Privacy.

Wright is currently in custody at the Pickens County Jail.

This investigation is part of the ongoing effort by the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, housed within the GBI’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit, to identify those involved in the child pornography trade. The ICAC Program, created by the U.S. Department of Justice, was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the Internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims.

Anyone with information about other cases of child exploitation is asked to contact the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit at 404-270-8870. 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.

BOE updates Distance Learning and Calendar Survey

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Learning

JASPER, Ga. – With focused consideration for students “not on track” in classwork, the Pickens County Board of Education heard an update on Distance Learning from Curriculum Director Anita Walker.

Pickens is returning as many students as possible to in-person learning rather than virtual learning. Walker noted that they have had students “not-on-track” returning to in-person for multiple reasons varying from a dislike or disconnection with the Pearson program, including some technical issues the school overcame in the first part of the semester, to issue with difficulty of use and focus to scheduling conflicts with younger children who need parental help with the programs while the parents might be working full-time.

While the schools have some experiencing difficulties, many others are succeeding and progressing in the virtual learning. More success was seen in lower grades, Kindergarten to 4th Grade.

Walker did note, however, that she felt that in-person is usually going to provide better educational experiences for the majority of students.

During her presentation, Walker pointed out some details that may be contributing to those not on track with the program including time spent with the program. She broke down data specifically focused on those in that category based on grade levels and compared them to the number of students spending more or less that 30 hours a week on the program.

Touching on support for the program and changes to bolster their efforts to support students and families choosing virtual learning, Walker noted the teachers efforts such as a tutoring program that virtual and in-person students can take advantage of. They are also putting extensions on some class work to aid in students needing that.

On the other side, with about 60 students moving from in-person to virtual learning for various reasons, Walker said the school encouraged students and families to come in a go over the program so that they would no and understand all of the requirements and needs involved with the program before fully committing to virtual learning.

Distance learning was not the only discussion for the day, however, as the board looked closer at results from a survey over the school calendar for 2021-2022.

Learning, Calendar, EducationNearing the mid-point of the school year, early discussion is already coming in for the next school year as Pickens County is going through the lengthy process of adopting a school year calendar.

According to Superintendent Dr. Rick Townsend, a survey was taken with input from students, parents, employees, and residents/business owners.

Of the 1209 replies to the survey, the boards report indicated that 500 were parents, 298 employees, 60 students, and 39 residents/business owners.

The vast majority emphasized a great importance on Thanksgiving and Christmas and not changing those breaks.

Additionally, 70% of the response said they would prefer a digital learning day for snow days or inclement weather rather than making those days up during winter break.

Many comments supported moving back the start date of school into mid to late August, but the board was told that hey would have to do away with several breaks to incorporate that change.

While the recommendation is set to be the same calendar as previously recommended, the board will be voting on the calendar next Thursday, December 10, 2020.

Rosemary Wigington arrested same day as husband Allen Wigington indicted

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JASPER, Ga. – Official records from the Pickens County Sheriff’s Office have confirmed the arrest of one Rosemary Wigington and booking into the Pickens County Adult Detention Center.

Rosemary Taudte Wigington

Arrested earlier today on two counts of Theft by Taking, Rosemary Wigington was incarcerated, according to the warrant placed for her arrest, with a $50,000 bond. Today also saw proceedings for official indictment of former Chief Magistrate Judge Allen Wigington, Allen was arrested in January of this year for Theft and Violation of Oath of Office. At the time, he was also given a $50,000 bond.

Rosemary faces one misdemeanor count of Theft by Taking and one felony count of Theft by Taking according to records.

According to the arresting records, Rosemary’s workphone was listed as that of Pickens High School. According to Pickens County Schools’ website, she teaches World History and is a part of the LPSCS (Law, Public Safety, Corrections, and Security Career) Pathway. Some of the pathway classes listed under her pathway courses include Introduction to Law, Corrections, and Security, Criminal Justice Essentials, and Criminal Investigations.

The same website confirms that Rosemary has been a part of the faculty for more than 20 years where she has previously taught Civics, Geography, World History, US History, AP European History, and Criminal Justice.

Allen Wigington

According to documents from the District Attorney’s Office, Allen Wigington’s indictment listed 57 counts of criminal activity including 42 counts of “Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Card,” 11 counts of “Theft by Taking,” 3 counts of “Forgery in the Fourth Degree,” and 1 count of “Violation of Oath by Public Officer.”

The counts reached all the way back to January of 2017 and some were as recent as January of 2020. With the Theft by Taking counts totaling over $2,666 in just the specified amounts of six of those counts. The other counts only specified more than or less than $1,500. Some held named people as those he allegedly took the money from, others named the Magistrate Court of Pickens County, Pickens County Government, and Pickens County Law Library as the alleged victims of the theft. Then, each of the three indictments of “Forgery in the Fourth Degree” for checks less than $1,500.

The extra counts of “Unauthorized Use of a Financial Transaction Card” included

Count 11. goods and services Hampton Inn Canton, Georgia

Count 12. goods and services at Hilton New Orleans, Riverside

Count 13. goods and services at Doubletree by Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel Orlando, Florida

Count 14. goods and services at Doubletree by Hilton Atlanta Airport Atlanta, Georgia

Count 15. goods and services at Hampton Inn Kingsland, Ga

Count 16. Apple iWatch

Count 17. AC plus Watch Series 4-PAIOS

Count 18. Chick-Fil-A Food

Count 19. K&G Atlanta

Count 20. K&G Marietta

Count 21. Birkenstock Women’s Mayari Sandals

Count 22. Tonka Mighty Motorized Garbage FFP Truck, Battat-Dump Truck with Working Moveable Parts and 1 Driver, Women’s Merry Christmas Reindeer/Santa Claus Printed Tunic Tops, VTech Go! Go! Smart Spin Wheel Spinning Spiral Tower Playset, and Toy State Caterpillar Tough Tracks 3 Piece Set

Count 23. Old Glory Christmas FA LA Llama Men’s Long Sleeve T Shirt

Count 24. No PRobllama Llama Ugly Sweater Funny Women Sweatshirt T-shirt Irish Green 2XL

Count 25. True Wireless Earbuds Bluetooth 5.0 Headset

Count 26. Borescope Inspection Ear Wax Remover Tool

Count 27. Amazon Prime Membership

Count 28. Nintendo Switch, Airpods, and Airpods case

Count 29. Probiotic Capsules

Count 30. Probiotic Capsules

Count 31. Boy’s Long Sleeve Contrast Color Cute Bunny Casual T-Shirt

Count 32. Set of 5 Reading Glasses

Count 33. Probiotic Capsules

Count 34. Probiotic Capsules

Count 35. True Wireless Earbuds 5.0 Headset

Count 36. Crew Socks and Reading Glasses

Count 37. 3 piece personalized toddler firefighter outfit

Count 38. Polo cologne, detangling brush, makeup primer and pore minimizer, children’s lab coat, kids scrubs, and nasal care essentials bundle

Count 39. Magnetic tiles with storage case, magnetic block set, and magnetic cars

Count 40. Maxliner floor mats

Count 41. Condor jacket and a shave suction razor stand holder kit

Count 42. Apple watch bands

Count 43. VIGO Zurich kitchen sink faucet

Count 44. Rozin bathroom shower faucet set, Votamuta floor mounted faucets, Rozin rainfall shower faucet set, and LOCOA Chandelier

Count 45. Oriental rug and box spring

Count 46. Mattress, KitchenAid stand mixer, rug pad, area rug, wooden bed slats, and a slow cooker

Count 47. Robot vacuum cleaner, accessory kit for a robot vacuum cleaner, and ECOVACS Dry-Wet Mop replacement

Count 48. Umbrella, stroller umbrella, and three travel mugs

Count 49. Stick-on LED lights, roll up shooting mat, bronze IGLOO cooler, and a black IGLOO cooler

Count 50. Vehicle emergency lights and home security hardware

Count 51. Drafting chair

Count 52. Reading Glasses

Pickens County Commission Chair Debate Shouse & Stancil

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Watch the Debate with Pickens County Chair Candidates brought to you by FetchYourNews.com on Sept 17, 2020.

United We Ride Event – October 3rd!

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Pickens County Chief Magistrate Judge Wigington arrested Theft and Violation of Oath of Office

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Judge Allen Wigington

PICKENS COUNTY, GA – At approximately 7:30 p.m. on Jan. 29, 2020, Pickens County Chief Magistrate Judge Allen Wigington was arrested for multiple incidents of Theft and Violation of Oath of Office.

The Sheriff’s Office began a review of financial documents for Pickens County in mid-December 2019. During the review of these documents, investigators identified questionable spending activity on the Pickens County credit card issued to Wigington. After an initial review, Sheriff Craig reached out to the Appalachian Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office to discuss the findings. Following the sharing of information with the district attorney’s office, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) was requested to assist with further investigation.

Investigators further learned of an additional situation involving a local nonprofit organization, where Wigington served as the Treasurer. In this case, it was found that Wigington had taken funds from the nonprofit organization to pay personal debts. It was determined that Wigington then attempted to remedy this action by taking funds from the Magistrate Office to reimburse the nonprofit organization.

Following an investigation that has been ongoing for more than a month, on Wednesday, Jan. 29, at approximately 3:30 p.m., GBI executed a search warrant at Judge Wigington’s office to gather further evidence for the case.

The GBI obtained warrants for Judge Wigington’s arrest, which include the following:
• 3 counts of Unauthorized Use of Financial Transaction Card (O.C.G.A. 16-9-37(b))
• 6 counts of Theft by Taking (O.C.G.A. 16-8-2)
• 1 count of Violation of Oath by Public Officer (O.C.G.A 16-10-1)

Wigington reportedly made several questionable purchases for instance he made three separate transactions of $923, $848.31, and $317 from Pickens County Magistrate Court to give to aforementioned nonprofit with the “intention of depriving owner of said property.” He also allegedly charged $96.27, $137.82, and $343.84 on Pickens County government card for personal expenses at Hampton Inn in Kingsland, Ga, Doubletree by Hilton at Atlanta Airport, and Hilton Bonnet Creek Hotel in Orlando, Fla.

Judge Wigington turned himself into the Pickens County Adult Detention Center at 7:30 p.m. and is currently on a $50,000 bond.

This case is being actively investigated at this time.

Dragons named to Region 6-AAAA all-region team

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Dragons

The awards having begun rolling in for the Pickens High Dragons football team.

The Dragons (6-4, 4-2 Region 6-AAAA) have put 16 players on the all-region team as voted on by the region coaches.

Dragons

Senior quarterback C.J. Streicher has been named the Region 6-AAAA Offensive Player of the Year.

Senior quarterback C.J. Streicher has been named the Region 6-AAAA Offensive Player of the Year after guiding the team to the No. 3 seed in the state playoffs.

Dragons

Senior Aidan Sanchez has been named the Region 6-AAAA Lineman of the Year.

Senior tackle Aidan Sanchez was named the Region 6-AAAA Lineman of the Year.

Four other members of the team were named first-team all-region.

They include senior defensive lineman Clayton Holland, senior offensive lineman Bailey Cannady, senior wide receiver Alex Snelgrove, and junior wide receiver Mykel Hand.

Five players made the region’s second team.

They are senior offensive lineman Josh Cook, senior linebacker T.C. Jarrett, senior tight end Austin Chester, junior running back Jarod Whitmore, and junior defensive back Chase Nelson.

Receiving honorable mention nods from the Dragons are senior defensive back Jay Jones, linebacker Jake Rogers, senior offensive lineman Mason Watkins, junior defensive lineman Sy Chadwick, and junior defensive back Tucker Lowe.

The Dragons will open play in the Class AAAA state playoffs on the road at Region 8-AAAA’s No. 2 seed North Oconee (9-1) this Friday.

The Dragons and the Titans are set for kick off at 7:30 p.m., Friday, Nov. 15, in Bogart.

To read about the final Pickens game of the regular season, click here.

CORE receives grant and state office at ribbon-cutting

News

ELLIJAY, Ga. – “This is the kind of project that will spread prosperity throughout our entire region. It is the kind of skin-in-the-game project that deserves support…” Georgia Speaker of the House, David Ralston praised the CORE Facility in Ellijay who hosted their official ribbon-cutting today.

Nestled just off Maddox Drive on the banks of the Coosawattee River in Ellijay, Georgia, the CORE Facility hosts business offices and incubation locations for entrepreneurs and start-ups in need of an office or workspace without the hassles of long-term investment.

Left to right, Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, and Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones celebrate with Greater Gilmer JDA Executive Director Kent Sanford at the CORE Facility ribbon-cutting in Ellijay, Georgia, on July 24, 2019.

However, the facility’s impact reaches so much farther than the city limits or the county’s borders. Today marked a celebration for the region and for the state. Representatives statewide joined together for this ribbon cutting including Gilmer Commission Chairman Charlie Paris, Gilmer Post Commissioner Karleen Ferguson, Pickens Commission Chairman Rob Jones, Fannin Commission Chairman Stan Helton, Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, State Senator Steve Gooch, State Representative of District 11 Rick Jasperse, Ellijay City Mayor Al Hoyle, Gilmer Schools Superintendent Dr. Shanna Downs, and many representatives from the Ellijay and East Ellijay City Councils and Gilmer Board of Education. Efforts from many organizations have led into combined organizations such as the Greater Gilmer Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation.

That Foundation was the birthplace of the initiative to build CORE. According to Kent Sanford, Executive Director of the Greater Gilmer JDA and part of the Greater Gilmer Community Foundation, a 14-month birth cycle has finally come to full fruition.

While the celebration was a culmination of efforts so far, it is only the beginning. It is a project that holds great impact on the future, according to Ralston who said, “It will create jobs in our area. The jobs of tomorrow will be possible because of the work that goes on in this building.”

Speaker of the House, David Ralston announces a $420,000 state grant for the CORE facility to applause from attendees at the ribbon-cutting on July 24, 2019.

Ralston also dedicated support to the facility as he announced, “Because of the local commitment to the CORE building the State of Georgia, through our OneGeorgia Authority, is awarding $420,000 to this project to be used for Facility purchase and improvement costs. This $420,000 grant is historic. both in terms of its dollar amount and the impact it will have on this project and community.”

Ralston continued speaking about the economic development and job creation in the county before offering the second announcement of the day regarding the Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center.

Ralston stated at the ribbon-cutting, “I am proud to announce that the new North Georgia of the Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation will be housed right here in Ellijay in this facility. The office will be led by Janet Cochran.”

Ralston’s office later offered a full Press Release on the announcement stating the center serves as a central information and research hub for rural best practices, including community planning, industry-specific assistance and cooperative efforts with community partners. The center was proposed by the House Rural Development Council in 2017 and was created by House Bill 951, which was enacted in 2018.

The Georgia Center for Rural Prosperity & Innovation, also known as Georgia’s Rural Center, was officially announced to open a North Georgia Office at Gilmer’s CORE facility during a ribbon-cutitng on July 24, 2019.

These announcements were applauded by those present and praised by the Chairman of the Gilmer Chamber, John Marshall, who said, “Mr. Speaker, once again you have proven yourself to be the very epitome of a stalwart and faithful advocate not only to your hometown and all the other communities in these beautiful North Georgia Mountains, but to each and every corner of the state of Georgia.”

President of the Gilmer Chamber, Paige Green also praised the facility as the realization of a dream for the community that has spread to benefit not only one county but something larger that now spans the region.

Today was a celebration of completing the first steps of a larger plan for the facility. Though it is now open, it is only the first phase of that dream. Director Sanford noted last year that the hopes for the facility include two more phases.

In Phase II, the foundation will continue renovation onto the second floor to open up a larger area for education and training in a 1,200 square foot space upstairs.

In Phase III, hopes for the CORE Facility could extend into the schools for things like STEM Classes, STEM Saturdays, or other forays into education connection. Consolidating resources for these could include shared STEM kits or a shared expense for a STEM subscription service involving 3d-printing necessary components. However, specific details into PHASE III have yet to be finalized.

Ultimately, the CORE wants to continue spreading and growing this larger community where possible. Opportunities that may come have yet to be revealed, but one ribbon-cutting today, one celebration, can lead to something bigger than imagining tomorrow.

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Georgia Election Run-Off Results

Election 2018

 2018 Georgia Election Run-Off Results

Tonight marks the run-offs for election races in Georgia, these results are unofficial until approved by the Secretary of State.

 

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 756,016 votes   51.97%

John Barrow (D) – 698,770 votes   48.03%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 749,805 votes   51.83%

Lindy Miller (D) – 696,957 votes   48.17%

 

 

Check for local results by county here:

 

Gilmer

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,337 votes   83.13%

John Barrow (D) – 880 votes   16.87%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,250 votes   81.79%

Lindy Miller (D) – 946 votes   18.21%

 

Pickens

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,408 votes   84.01%

John Barrow (D) – 839 votes   15.99%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,325 votes   82.70%

Lindy Miller (D) – 905   17.30%

 

Fannin

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,522 votes   81.89%

John Barrow (D) – 779 votes   18.11%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,454 votes   80.57%

Lindy Miller (D) – 833 votes   19.43%

 

Dawson

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,985 votes   85.83%

John Barrow (D) – 658 votes   14.17%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,939 votes   85.02%

Lindy Miller (D) – 694 votes   14.98%

 

White

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,063 votes   82.78%

John Barrow (D) – 845 votes   17.22%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,960 votes   80.82%

Lindy Miller (D) – 940 votes   19.18%

 

Union

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 4,246 votes   80.92%

John Barrow (D) – 1,001 votes   19.08%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 4,108 votes   78.65%

Lindy Miller (D) – 1,115 votes   21.35%

 

Towns

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,161 votes   79.95%

John Barrow (D) – 542 votes   20.05%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,105 votes   78.22%

Lindy Miller (D) – 586 votes   21.78%

 

Murray

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 2,699 votes   88.99%

John Barrow (D) – 334 votes   11.01%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 2,691 votes   88.84%

Lindy Miller (D) – 338 votes   11.16%

 

Lumpkin

Secretary of State

Brad Raffensperger (R) – 3,378 votes   78.47%

John Barrow (D) – 927 votes   21.53%

 

Public Service Commission, District 3

Chuck Eaton (R) – 3,337 votes   77.89%

Lindy Miller (D) – 947 votes   22.11%

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