NCDHHS provides safety guidelines as early voting begins

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RALEIGH — The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services is providing guidelines for voters and local polling locations to help protect the health of North Carolinians during the voting process. In addition, NCDHHS and the NC Department of Public Safety Division of Emergency Management provided personal protective equipment to local election boards and locations.

North Carolina residents who plan to vote in-person should wear a face mask and keep it on throughout the voting process, stay 6 feet apart from others while at the polling location, and wash their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds before and after voting.

“Everyone should make their voting plan, and just like going to the grocery store, take your mask and wait apart from others. I’ll be voting in person during early voting,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy K. Cohen, M.D.

NCDHHS also issued guidelines to local polling locations to protect people while they vote, work or volunteer at voting locations. Masks are required in public and voting places must have enough masks to provide one to anyone who does not have one. If a voter has an exception for wearing a mask, election workers should try to accommodate them and should not turn voters away.

Election workers at voting locations must routinely clean and disinfect high-touch areas, such as doors, tables and chairs, with an EPA-approved disinfectant for SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — especially during peak voting times. Many locations are providing single-use pens to voters.

The guidelines, adapted from the CDC’s Considerations for Election Polling Locations and Voters, also require elections officials to post signage at each voting place reminding voters and workers about social distancing by staying at least 6 feet away from others. Officials are required to provide physical markers, such as tape on floors or signs on walls, to help ensure people remain at least 6 feet apart.

Additionally, county boards of elections must:

  • Require election workers and observers to wear a mask when social distancing is or may not be possible, unless they state an exception applies.
  • Require election workers to encourage people to wear a mask while they vote or campaign and offer masks to those who are not wearing them.

To monitor the health of elections workers, county boards of elections are required to:

  • Immediately separate and send home election workers who have symptoms when they arrive at work or become sick during the day.
  • Conduct daily symptom screening of workers before opening the voting place each day.
  • Post signage at the main entrance asking people who have a fever and/or a cough not to enter. Signage from the NCDHHS Know your Ws campaign is available to download.

All 100 county election offices have received gloves and face shields for poll workers; disposable masks for workers and others who do not have a mask; and hand sanitizer, disinfectant spray and paper towels. Anheuser-Busch and McDonald’s donated a portion of the hand sanitizer to the Association of State Election Directors. NCDHHS and NCDPS are providing the rest of the supplies and equipment. Additionally, the NC State Board of Elections is sending single-use pens to county election offices for use as needed.

Interim Guidance for Election Voting Locations and guidelines for Voting Safely During COVID-19 can be found at https://covid19.ncdhhs.gov/guidance#election-voting.

Governor Cooper Announces $35 Million to Support Child Care Programs

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RALEIGH: Governor Roy Cooper announced that the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (NCDHHS) is providing $35 million in operational grants from federal Coronavirus Relief Funds to help child care programs providing in-person child care during the COVID-19 pandemic. From April through July, NCDHHS has provided over $80 million in monthly operational grants for child care programs that served over 105,000 children statewide throughout the pandemic.

“These grants will help offset the significant financial strains placed on child care to meet health and safety guidelines while serving fewer children,” said Governor Cooper. “Our child care programs have been on the frontlines since the start of this pandemic, keeping their doors open so other workers could keep our economy running and the public safe. A strong and safe child care system is essential to our recovery.”

“Our response and recovery are dependent upon having a strong, high-quality child care system open and available. These operational grants help families go to work and children’s learning to be nurtured,” said NCDHHS Secretary Mandy Cohen, M.D.

The grants will be awarded to licensed child care providers operating in-person during the months of August through October 2020 to help offset the significant financial strains due to the additional expenses to meet health and safety guidelines, while experiencing reduced revenues from lower enrollment. Providers have the flexibility to use these grants to meet their unique individual business and operational needs.

All eligible licensed child care programs will receive some level of operational grants. Specific grant amounts are based on program size, quality, and whether the program serve infants and toddlers.

Throughout the pandemic, NCDHHS has maintained North Carolina’s long history of investments in child care by providing monthly operational grants since April, child care teacher and staff bonuses in April and May, and an emergency subsidy child care program in April and May.

For more information about child care during COVID-19 in North Carolina, visit www.ncdhhs.gov/divisions/public-health/covid19/child-care.

Suspicious device turns out to be a weather balloon

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suspicious device

On October 1, 2020, Transylvania County Sheriff’s Office Deputies were dispatched to a suspicious device call for service on Cathy’s Creek Church Road. When officers arrived, they were advised by the reporting party that the device was a box that was attached to kite by multiple strings.

The reporting party stated that there was a warning sticker that they had seen which stated that the device may be hazardous and to contact your local police agency. The homeowner had placed the item into a container that did not allow deputies to view the item from a safe distance. Due to not knowing what the device was and being unable to safely examine it from a distance, Henderson County Bomb Squad was requested to respond and examine the package to ensure it was safe.

Images courtesy of Transylvania Sheriff Office.

Henderson County Sheriff’s Office Bomb Squad, as well as an additional Bomb Tech from Asheville Police Department, responded.

The package was determined to be a harmless weather balloon and weather instrument sent into the atmosphere by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA). This particular device was launched from Peach Tree City, Georgia on 07/29/2020 at 7 p.m.

These devices are routinely sent up by NOAA to gather atmospheric conditions and are completely harmless. Finding one in Transylvania County, however, does not happen very often so we want you to be aware that it is possible to find one here, and if they are found they are completely harmless as long as the balloon is deflated. If the balloon is still inflated the gas used in the balloon could be dangerous but there should not be a balloon on the ground still inflated.

If you were to find one of these devices there are mailing instructions on the instrument itself along with a prepaid bag for postage.

If you are ever in doubt about a suspicious device or package please call law enforcement so it can be safely examined.

Weather balloon had several strings attached to it.

Secretary of State unveils new absentee ballot request portal

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ATLANTA-Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unveils a new online portal to make it easier for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots for the November elections. Georgia voters with a driver’s license or state ID card will now be able to request an absentee ballot entirely online.

“Georgia is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to expand access to the ballot and uphold the integrity of the vote,” said Raffensperger. “We are encouraging Georgia voters who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 threat to use our new online absentee ballot request portal to request absentee ballots safely and securely from their computers or phones. This new tool will help counties stay on top of the several million absentee ballot requests expected in November.”

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has developed a website that will allow Georgia voters to request an absentee ballot entirely online. Georgia voters will be able to request their ballot via the portal using their first and last name, date of birth, county where they are registered, and Georgia State ID or Georgia Driver’s License number. Voters will get a confirmation email that their request has been entered into the system. Also, voters can monitor their ballot status on My Voter Page.

The portal is available herehttp://www.securevotega.com/secureabsentee/

Absentee ballots requested for the November 2020 presidential election cannot be sent out before September 15.

In the past, Georgia voters had to download and print an absentee ballot request, then scan and email it or put it in the mail. This new portal saves voters effort and postage and will increase confidence that the request has been received by county elections officials. It also makes it easier and faster for county election official to process absentee ballot requests by minimizing the possibility of data entry errors.

While the State ID or driver’s license number provide a secure safeguard for requesting ballots, the ballots themselves will still be verified by matching the voter signature to their signature on file upon submission. A record 1.6 million absentee ballot requests were received for the June primary, inundating county elections officials. This portal will make processing the large number of absentee ballot requests expected for the November election easier for county election officials to process quickly and accurately.

Rep. Vernon Jones issues statement on Atlanta police reform efforts

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Vernon Jones

ATLANTA – State Representative Vernon Jones (D-Lithonia) today issued the following statement regarding the Atlanta City Council’s recent adoption of a local ordinance which would amend the Atlanta Police Department’s procedures to incorporate various alternatives to use of force:

“The Atlanta City Council’s new police reform policies would require police officers to give a verbal warning before using deadly force, such as firing a weapon to apprehend a dangerous suspect.

“If police officers have to worry about whether to issue a warning or be indicted or punished for doing their jobs, those very seconds spent questioning their actions could cost their lives or lives of citizens of Atlanta.

“This ordinance is taking away police officers’ instincts and training in order to satisfy a political agenda.

“Georgia law prohibits cities in our state from adopting any rule, regulation or policy that would ban a police officer from using a lawful degree of force to apprehend a suspected felon. Furthermore, Georgia law also clearly states that such policies that are in conflict with the state’s laws regarding use of force would be null and void. These police reform policies would conflict with our state laws, meaning they would be unconstitutional.

“I strongly urge the Atlanta city attorney to look closely at this ordinance and advise the mayor of its merit and constitutionality. I also strongly encourage the Atlanta City Council to not consider defunding or making significant cuts to the Atlanta Police Department.”

Representative Vernon Jones represents the citizens of District 91, which includes portions of DeKalb and Rockdale counties. He was elected to the House of Representatives in 2016 and currently serves on the Energy, Utilities & Telecommunications, Human Relations & Aging and Transportation committees. 

Louisville man charged in connection to death of infant son

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Louisville
MARYVILLE, TENNESSEE – Blount County Sheriff James Lee Berrong said an 18-year-old Louisville man was charged Thursday in the death of his infant son.
Corey Ryan Dillow, 18, Red Hill Drive, Louisville, is in custody in the Blount County Correctional Facility. Dillow is charged with criminal homicide and aggravated child abuse. He is being held on bonds totaling $1,250,000 pending a hearing in Blount County General Sessions Court at 1:30 p.m. July 6, 2020.
Sheriff’s deputies responded to Dillow’s residence on Red Hill Drive in Louisville Wednesday where they found the infant unresponsive. Deputies attempted CPR on the infant before AMR Ambulance Service arrived and transported
him to Children’s Hospital in Knoxville where he was pronounced dead.
Investigators are continuing their inquiry into the case. The image is courtesy of BCSO Facebook. 

Kemp, Duncan, Ralston issue statements on the hate crimes bill

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HB 426 hate crimes

Atlanta, GA – Governor Brian P. Kemp, Lieutenant Governor Duncan, and Speaker David Ralston today issued the following statements following the signing of hate crimes bill, HB 426:

“Today we took an important, necessary step forward for Georgia. We stood together as fellow Georgians to affirm one simple but powerful motto: Georgia is a state too great to hate,” said Governor Kemp. “The signing of HB 426 is a sign of progress and a milestone worth applauding. This legislation will enhance public safety and ensure that justice is served for all Georgians – regardless of race, gender, religion, nationality, or sexual orientation. Today we reaffirmed our desire to put progress ahead of politics. While this legislation does not right every wrong, it is an important step, and we will continue to do our part as state leaders to ensure that Georgia is a place where all people can live, learn, and prosper. Working together, will continue to fight for fairness and do the right thing – even when no one is watching.”

“At a time when our nation feels so divided, this day is one of unity,” said Lt. Governor Duncan. “I am incredibly proud of the General Assembly’s collaborative effort, which produced a strong hate crimes bill that protects people in targeted groups and sends a strong statement about our values. I know we will build upon today’s accomplishment and continue to work toward meaningful change for all Georgians.”

“On this historic day, we have made it clear that Georgia rejects hate,” said Speaker David Ralston. “House Bill 426, a bipartisan piece of legislation, demonstrates that Georgia is a welcoming state to each and every person regardless of their race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. I want to applaud the hard work of Chairman Chuck Efstration and Dean of the House, Calvin Smyre, on this bill and thank them for their work.”

Collins Praises Isakson Legacy

Announcements, Politics

GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released the following statement after Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced he will resign from the U.S. Senate at the end of 2019 after 40 years of public service.

“Johnny Isakson has been a standard of public service and statesmanship for decades in Georgia. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians. Johnny faithfully remembers the forgotten, including America’s veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”

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www.dougcollins.house.gov

PRESS RELEASE: Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson

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Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) issued the following statement on the news that Georgia’s senior United States Senator Johnny Isakson will resign from office at the end of the year:

“The loss of Johnny Isakson from public life will leave a void in Georgia which is beyond comprehension. While I respect his reasons, I feel a tremendous sense of personal sadness – Johnny is a mentor, role model and friend. Over a distinguished career in the Georgia House, Georgia State Senate, State Board of Education, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Johnny Isakson demonstrated that civility and reasonableness are virtues that will never go out of style. My family and I will continue to pray for Johnny, Dianne and the Isakson family.”

Arrest Made in McCaysville Child Molestation Investigation

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

McCaysville, GA (August 22, 2019) On Wednesday, August 21, 2019, Kevin Joseph Warbington of McCaysville, GA, age 32, was arrested and charged with aggravated sexual battery and two counts of aggravated child molestation.  

On Wednesday, July 31, 2019, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation was requested to assist the McCaysville Police Department with a child molestation investigation.  During the investigation, the GBI requested that the Spartanburg County South Carolina Sheriff’s Office locate Warbington at an address off of Jordan Road in Lyman, South Carolina. On August 21, 2019, deputies were able to locate and arrest Warbington on the listed charges.  Warbington will be booked into the Fannin County Detention Center upon arrival in Georgia.  

 

The Braselton Police Department and the Jackson County Sheriff’s Office have also been instrumental in assisting the GBI and McCaysville Police Department with trying to locate Warbington.  

Georgia DOT Continues Cable Rail Repair Along I-575 in Cherokee

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Georgia DOT Continues Cable Rail Repair along I-575 in Canton, GA

 
CANTON Ga. – A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew resumes today its work on repairing the cable rail along Interstate 575 in Cherokee County.  Work will proceed daily between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

It is Georgia DOT position that guardrail and cable rail maintenance and repair are essential to keeping our roadways safe for the traveling public.  Our maintenance workers do their best to keep track of the damage to guard/cable rails and make repairs as quickly as possible in order to preserve road safety.

Each day, hundreds of Georgia Department of Transportation employees and contractors work on dozens of highway, bridge and intersection improvements throughout the state.  Their work often brings them and heavy machinery in close proximity to travel lanes. Fifty-seven Georgia DOT personnel and many more motorists, passengers and contractors’ workers have been killed in highway work zone accidents since 1973.  Please help us prevent these tragedies by slowing down; being especially attentive and cautious as you pass through construction work zones; and always driving responsibly.  Safer Driving; Safer Work Zones; For Everyone.  For information on the Department of Transportation, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov.  You also may follow us on (www.facebook.com/GDOTNW) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/GDOTNW).

GDOT Continues Asphalt Repair in Cherokee County

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Press Release: GBI Crime Lab Identifies Counterfeit Pills

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Benton MacKaye Trail Association Press Release

Community

PRESS RELEASE:

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) is seeking volunteers to help with trail maintenance for an upcoming work trip.

According to Barry Allen, Georgia work trip coordinator for the BMTA, a work trip is planned for Saturday, Dec. 9, on a section of trail near Fall Branch Falls in Fannin County. This month’s Georgia work trip will focus on completing the re-route at Fall Branch Falls. Allen stated there are a few more steps needing to be installed, which will require hauling timbers, along with a 50-foot section of trail to dig. Also, a number of water diversions just upstream from the falls will be put in place.

Allen hopes to have work completed for the day around lunchtime and mentioned he would bring his grill with him if the weather is nice to grill some burgers and brats for a post-work lunch.

All work trip participants are asked to wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeve pants and shirts, work gloves and, for cold-weather trips, multiple thin layers that can be easily shed one at a time. Also, a daypack for storing food, water or other items is always a good idea for work trips. Food and water are not supplied by the BMTA on work trips; however, tools are provided by the Association. The BMTA recommends workers to bring at least two liters of water for the trip.

Those interested can meet either at The Iron Bridge Café and General Store on Aska Road across from Shallowford Bridge, at 8:00 a.m. or at Fall Branch Falls at 9 a.m.

The Benton MacKaye Trail spans three states – Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina – and nearly 300 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Davenport Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is enjoyed by thousands of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts each year.

For anyone with questions or needing further information, contact Barry Allen at [email protected] or 770-294-7384.

Press Release – Georgia Department of Insurance

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