Arguing erupts over City Park playground

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured, Featured Stories, News
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Blue Ridge, Ga. – It was clear from the onset of the Blue Ridge City Council meeting that tensions were high between fellow council members Rhonda Haight and Mike Panter.

During approval of the minutes from a Special Called Oct. 20, 2020 council meeting Haight made the motion to accept the minutes but with it being noted that Panter had brought forth non agenda items at this meeting and that this was illegal according to the Open Meetings Act.

During this meeting Panter asked to speak and used this time to point out the history of dysfunction within the city council.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

View of playground in City Park showing height of slide.

Mayor Donna Whitener pointed out that it was a council member who had made the request for this for the time to speak.

“It doesn’t matter if it was a council person,” Haight responded to the Mayor’s comments, “I’ve never been allowed to do that.” 

The motion to accept the minutes with the added note passed 3-2 with council members Robbie Cornelius and Panter opposing.

Contention didn’t stop there, as Haight then moved to have the agenda amended, moving Panter’s line item (Presentation of playground and Purchase) from Action Agenda Items to Purchasing Approvals.

Haight stated that according to the city charter and for clarification in minutes that the item should be moved: “Are we going to be purchasing?”

Council member Nathan Fitts backed Haight stating, “If we’re going to go by procedures, let’s do it correctly.” Fitts added that everyone needs to get on the same page.

“An action item can be an action item where you are taking action on something and a purchasing approval,” City Attorney James Balli clarified whether the item had to be moved. “Legally you can do it under either one.” 

The motion to move the item passed with only Panter in opposition and council member Harold Herndon expressing his opinion that it didn’t really matter.

Panter had previously presented to the public his research and opinion on the route that should be taken when considering reopening the City Park’s playground area.

During his presentation at the current meeting Panter reiterated that his concern is with safety and the lack of upkeep the city has done in maintaining the playground area. 

Panter advocated for using rubber padding in lieu of mulch and stated that while the initial cost would be over $60,000, the benefits of not having the upkeep of mulch would save the city money in the years to come.

“We had two grants of over $150,000 offered to the city,” Panter stated of the park’s history, “We got zero because we couldn’t make a decision.” 

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Panter presenting his research and findings into reopening the City Park playground.

Arguing among council and mayor erupted over who had been previously responsible for the decisions made about the park and playground.

“Ms. Whitener went down to the park yanked all the equipment out and left it totally blank,” Haight said of the park’s two year saga of renovation between 2015 – 2017.

Haight acknowledged that there was a grant for $120,000 to be used in the park but that the grant was for a botanical garden and not for the playground. 

Mayor Whitener retorted to Haight, defending the landscaping that began but was later removed, “You were moving the park to the other side.” 

“And yes I did want it to go at the other end but it was too late at that point,” Haight responded to Whitener’s remark.

One thing that the two did agree on was that $12,000 was spent during this time on sod that was later removed and a sprinkler system.

Conversation became more heated when Whitener pointed out that council member Haight’s husband had been involved with the park at that time. Haight acknowledged that her husband had volunteered some of his time but was not involved in the ultimate decisions that were made.

“I think you’ve told so many lies over the years, you don’t even know what the truth is,” Haight spoke directly to Whitener.

Fitts tried to steer the conversation back to addressing the playground as it is today instead of discussing the history: “We need to do what is best for the citizens right now. What would it take to get the park open to code?”

Cornelius finally made a motion to purchase the turf option presented by Panter, stating that the problem should just be fixed rather than “putting a band-aid on it”. The motion, however, failed to pass with only Panter and Cornelius voting in favor.

“I’m not interested in taking the liability and doing that,” Panter said when suggested that the city use mulch for now.

Haight responded to Panter,  “Just because we voted you down, you don’t want to participate even though you’re over the park?”

“I’ve done my job,” Panter responded “You do your job. I’ve done mine.”

Haight motioned for $10,000 to be spent in bringing the playground up to code with the use of mulch and to address drainage issues in the area. This motion passed 3-2 with Cornelius and Panter in opposition.

Planning, Zoning and Project Manager Jeff Stewart agreed to take on the project of the City Park playground and will oversee the steps necessary to reopen the playground to the public.

Arguing erupts over City Park playground

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, News
Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Blue Ridge, Ga. – It was clear from the onset of the Blue Ridge City Council meeting that tensions were high between fellow council members Rhonda Haight and Mike Panter.

During approval of the minutes from a Special Called Oct. 20, 2020 council meeting Haight made the motion to accept the minutes but with it being noted that Panter had brought forth non agenda items at this meeting and that this was illegal according to the Open Meetings Act.

During this meeting Panter asked to speak and used this time to point out the history of dysfunction within the city council.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

View of playground in City Park showing height of slide.

Mayor Donna Whitener pointed out that it was a council member who had made the request for this for the time to speak.

“It doesn’t matter if it was a council person,” Haight responded to the Mayor’s comments, “I’ve never been allowed to do that.” 

The motion to accept the minutes with the added note passed 3-2 with council members Robbie Cornelius and Panter opposing.

Contention didn’t stop there, as Haight then moved to have the agenda amended, moving Panter’s line item (Presentation of playground and Purchase) from Action Agenda Items to Purchasing Approvals.

Haight stated that according to the city charter and for clarification in minutes that the item should be moved: “Are we going to be purchasing?”

Council member Nathan Fitts backed Haight stating, “If we’re going to go by procedures, let’s do it correctly.” Fitts added that everyone needs to get on the same page.

“An action item can be an action item where you are taking action on something and a purchasing approval,” City Attorney James Balli clarified whether the item had to be moved. “Legally you can do it under either one.” 

The motion to move the item passed with only Panter in opposition and council member Harold Herndon expressing his opinion that it didn’t really matter.

Panter had previously presented to the public his research and opinion on the route that should be taken when considering reopening the City Park’s playground area.

During his presentation at the current meeting Panter reiterated that his concern is with safety and the lack of upkeep the city has done in maintaining the playground area. 

Panter advocated for using rubber padding in lieu of mulch and stated that while the initial cost would be over $60,000, the benefits of not having the upkeep of mulch would save the city money in the years to come.

“We had two grants of over $150,000 offered to the city,” Panter stated of the park’s history, “We got zero because we couldn’t make a decision.” 

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, City Council, City, Mayor, Planning, Zoning and Project Manager, Attorney, Donna Whitener, Rhonda Haight, Nathan Fitts, Robbie Cornelius, Mike Panter, Harold Herndon, Jeff Stewart, James Balli, Legal, Safety, Reopen

Panter presenting his research and findings into reopening the City Park playground.

Arguing among council and mayor erupted over who had been previously responsible for the decisions made about the park and playground.

“Ms. Whitener went down to the park yanked all the equipment out and left it totally blank,” Haight said of the park’s two year saga of renovation between 2015 – 2017.

Haight acknowledged that there was a grant for $120,000 to be used in the park but that the grant was for a botanical garden and not for the playground. 

Mayor Whitener retorted to Haight, defending the landscaping that began but was later removed, “You were moving the park to the other side.” 

“And yes I did want it to go at the other end but it was too late at that point,” Haight responded to Whitener’s remark.

One thing that the two did agree on was that $12,000 was spent during this time on sod that was later removed and a sprinkler system.

Conversation became more heated when Whitener pointed out that council member Haight’s husband had been involved with the park at that time. Haight acknowledged that her husband had volunteered some of his time but was not involved in the ultimate decisions that were made.

“I think you’ve told so many lies over the years, you don’t even know what the truth is,” Haight spoke directly to Whitener.

Fitts tried to steer the conversation back to addressing the playground as it is today instead of discussing the history: “We need to do what is best for the citizens right now. What would it take to get the park open to code?”

Cornelius finally made a motion to purchase the turf option presented by Panter, stating that the problem should just be fixed rather than “putting a band-aid on it”. The motion, however, failed to pass with only Panter and Cornelius voting in favor.

“I’m not interested in taking the liability and doing that,” Panter said when suggested that the city use mulch for now.

Haight responded to Panter,  “Just because we voted you down, you don’t want to participate even though you’re over the park?”

“I’ve done my job,” Panter responded “You do your job. I’ve done mine.”

Haight motioned for $10,000 to be spent in bringing the playground up to code with the use of mulch and to address drainage issues in the area. This motion passed 3-2 with Cornelius and Panter in opposition.

Planning, Zoning and Project Manager Jeff Stewart agreed to take on the project of the City Park playground and will oversee the steps necessary to reopen the playground to the public.

Panter doesn’t back down from decision to close park

Community, Downtown Blue Ridge, Featured, Featured Stories, News

Blue Ridge, Ga. – The Blue Ridge City Council held a special called meeting last week, but due to a lack of a quorum no votes could be taken and business for the city remains at a halt. While lack of a quorum seemed to be a contentious issue, it did not stop the remaining members of the council along with the mayor from presenting information to the public.

Council member Mike Panter has recently come under fire for his decision to close the playground area of the city park. With citizens and even other council members questioning his decision and authority, Panter did not back down from his stance and took the time to explain his reasoning.

“I did not want the liability. I did not want the city to have the liability, and I felt like it was my responsibility to close the park,” Panter said of recent events, adding, “I know I did the right thing.” 

For Panter, the issue of public safety came to his attention during the state mandated shut down of the city park during the onset of Covid-19.

Blue Ridge, Georgia, Fannin County, Playground, Park, Safety, Mayor, City Council, Donna Whitener, Mike Panter, Children

Plans for Blue Ridge City Park Playground area showing where the height of the slide stands at 12 feet.

Panter had examined the 12 inch bumper placed around the park and realized the mulch had not been properly maintained.

Municipal playgrounds are required to maintain a certain depth of “padding” around equipment for safety purposes, and for the City of Blue Ridge that depth should be maintained at 12 inches considering the height of the slide, standing at 12 feet tall.

“How much mulch do you think we have underneath that slide,” Panter questioned and then answered, “three inches.”

According to Panter, the mulch in the city park should be maintained every six months and that the park itself should be inspected once a year.

“We haven’t had any additional mulch added in three and a half years. We have not had an inspection in three and half years since it was put in,” Panter remarked of the current state of the playground area.

Panter discussed a number of options for remedying the situation that included mulching, rubber mulch, and his preferred option of padding and synthetic grass. 

While the synthetic grass option would be more costly upfront, it would allow for proper drainage to be installed and would also come with a 15 year warranty.

Panter stated that “the cost is half (compared to the mulching option) over that 15 year period”.

Mayor Donna Whitener also commented that using the synthetic grass would make the park more accessible for those with mobility issues and for very small children.

“Everything that you look at has positives and negatives,” Panter said of the possibilities to get the park back up and running.

There is expected to be a more in depth discussion on the matter along with costs of the project at the Special Called Blue Ridge City Council meeting to be held on Thursday, Nov. 12.

North Georgia Senior Living by Cameron Hall: Mattie’s Call

FYNTV, Lifestyle

Jessi Barton from Cameron Hall joins Guest Host Rick to discuss about Mattie’s Call.

Two Important Announcements From Georgia DNR

Announcements, Outdoors
open

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

WORKSHOP FOCUSES ON WOMEN AND THE OUTDOORS

 

MANSFIELD, Ga. (Aug. 19, 2019) – Ladies, have you ever wanted to head out to go backpacking or fishing or shooting, but not sure where to start? The Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division can help! The Becoming an Outdoors-Woman (BOW) Workshop, scheduled for Nov. 1-3 at the Charlie Elliott Wildlife Center, provides a practical introduction to a wide variety of outdoor recreational skills and activities.  

 

“BOW workshops focus on learning outdoor skills in a safe and structured environment, giving women from all backgrounds the chance to learn outdoor skills in a positive, non-competitive atmosphere where they can feel confident and have fun,” said Katie McCollum, BOW coordinator. “Available class activities will include shooting, fishing, camping, photography, wilderness survival and more!”

 

BOW is an educational program offering hands-on workshops to women (18 or older) of all physical ability levels and aims to break down barriers to female participation in outdoor activities by providing a safe and supportive learning environment.  

 

Weekend workshops begin on Friday morning and end on Sunday. Between meals and special presentations and events, participants can choose from about 20 professionally-led classes, ranging from such topics as firearms, wilderness survival, fishing, orienteering, outdoor cooking, nature photography, astronomy and hunting. Sessions range in intensity from leisurely to rugged (strenuous).

 

“Although classes are designed with beginners and those with little to no experience in mind, more seasoned participants will benefit from the opportunity to hone their existing skills and try out new activities,” says McCollum. “All participants will receive enough instruction to pursue their outdoor interests further when the workshop is complete.”

 

Registration for BOW is now open. Participants can choose to bring their own tents and gear, or stay at the lodge at Charlie Elliott, part of a popular complex including a wildlife management and public fishing area. Cost per person, which includes food and programming, ranges from $220-265 (dependent on lodging choice).

 

For more information, including registration details and a complete listing of classes offered, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/BOW or call (770) 784-3059.

 

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

 

GEORGIA HUNTER EDUCATION INSTRUCTOR OF THE YEAR ANNOUNCED

 

SOCIAL CIRCLE, GA (August 19, 2019) – Outreach and involvement helped secure Game Warden Josh Cockrell of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ (DNR) Law Enforcement Division as the Hunter Education Instructor of the Year, according to the Georgia DNR Wildlife Resources Division.  

 

This award is presented annually in recognition of an instructor who displays outstanding efforts in educating sportsmen and women on wildlife conservation, and the importance of safety while hunting. 

 

“Teaching students to be safe, responsible, ethical hunters is the goal for all instructors” says Jennifer Pittman, hunter development program manager.  “Game Warden Cockrell is an exceptional example of the type of instructor that can encourage and inspire young hunters.” 

 

MORE ABOUT THE HONOREE

 

Game Warden Josh Cockrell: Some of the highlights of Game Warden Cockrell’s hunter education efforts include his involvement with several events. The annual Wilkinson County Quail Hunt targets new hunters that recently completed their hunter education class. Josh actively recruited new kids to attend, solicited donations, and was responsible for event set up, and coordination of the event. In February, Game Warden Cockrell assisted with the annual Squirrel hunt at a Lake Oconee Georgia Power campground, escorting two new hunters throughout the event. In addition to these, Josh worked at both the FFA convention in Macon and the Buckarama in Perry. These events see a steady flow of the public, and rangers have to be prepared to answer almost any kind of question. Game Warden Cockrell showed good knowledge about a variety of topics, including multiple hunter education questions.

 

For more information about hunter education, call the WRD Hunter Development Program Office at (706) 557-3355 or visit https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation.    

 

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GDOT Pleads for Safe Back to School Driving in Northwest Georgia 

Announcements
Safe Driving for Back-to-School Season…
GDOT Pleads for Safe Back to School Driving in Northwest Georgia 

WHITE, Ga. – Students heading back to school means more traffic, increased congestion and the need for extra safety precautions. From school buses loading and unloading, to kids walking and biking, to parents dropping off and picking up – dangers abound.

As back-to-school gets into full swing, Georgia DOT urges drivers to put safety first – especially in and around school zones, buses and children.

  • Pay attention to school zone flashing beacons and obey school zone speed limits.
  • Obey school bus laws.
    • Stop behind/do not pass a school bus that is stopped to load or unload children.
    • If the lights are flashing and the stop arm is extended, opposing traffic must stop unless it is on a divided highway with a grass or concrete median.
  • Watch for students gathering near bus stops, and for kids arriving late, who may dart into the street. Children often are unpredictable, and they tend to ignore hazards and take risks.

According to the National Safety Council, most children who lose their lives in school bus-related incidents are four to seven years old, walking and they are hit by the bus, or by a motorist illegally passing a stopped bus.

“It’s never more important for drivers to slow down and pay attention than when kids are present – especially in the peak traffic hours before and after school,” said Grant Waldrop, district engineer at the DOT office in White.

Research by the National Safe Routes to School program found that more children are hit by cars near schools than at any location. Georgia DOT implores drivers to watch out for children walking or bicycling (both on the road and the sidewalk) in area near a school.

“If you’re driving behind a school bus, increase your following distance to allow more time to stop once the lights start to flash. The area 10 feet around a school bus is the most dangerous for children; stop far enough back to give them space to safely enter and exit the bus,” Waldrop explained.

Whenever you drive – be alert and expect the unexpected. By exercising a little extra care and caution, drivers and pedestrians can co-exist safely in and around school zones. Let’s make this new school year safer for our children. 

# # #

Sports talk Thursday with Lauren Hunter-Beware the foul ball

Sports

Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb is currently on the IL after taking a line drive to the head on Saturday. But not just any line drive- a 102 mph ball directly off the bat.

My first reaction to hearing about the hit was shock- then amazement when I saw that not only did he take the hit, he walked off the field by his own power. I don’t know about you- but that probably would’ve been it for me.

Reports came out that Newcomb was doing well with no serious symptoms. However as we know from recent research with concussions and head injuries, it’s better not to take any chances.

Obviously the incident with Newcomb was not from a foul ball, but it has gotten me thinking about my experience in baseball with foul balls. Baseball fans are no strangers to ducking from a stray ball every now and then.

Sean Newcomb getting checked out by Braves staff after getting hit on Saturday. Credit: Yahoo! Sports

So the question I want to pose here is this: what added precautions should parks take, if any, to make baseball safer?

It’s not a new topic. It’s a question that everyone asks any time there’s another incident at a game where a fan is struck by a foul ball or flying bat. In fact, in May of this year a foul ball off the bat of the Chicago Cubs center fielder Albert Almora Jr. hit a young girl in the stands. Although reports said that the girl seemed alert and in no serious danger, the incident caught the attention of the MLB and Almora Jr. was visibly upset the rest of the game.

According to ABC News, in December 2015 the MLB issued recommendations that parks put up netting which “shields from line-drives foul balls all field-level seats that are located between the near ends of both dugouts … and within 70 feet of home plate.”

However based on the wording of this quote, the netting was only a recommendation.

During my time at Coolray Field with the Gwinnett Braves there were countless a times a foul ball made its way into the stands. I can recall several times where fans were hit, and even one instance where a staff member got struck. I myself got bopped by one the year before I started working there, although it was not near as fast or serious as some of the others.

Some park-goers might argue that netting or other protective barriers should be ALL around the park. Others will say that obvious places, like right behind home plate or down along the baselines, should be shielded but others are not necessary.

As for myself, I agree with the latter position. If you’re sitting directly behind home plate and a foul ball comes off the bat and directly behind the batter, there’s nothing you can do in the almost-instant amount of time that ball comes at you. In this case, not only is netting the best solution, it’s the ONLY solution.

Same goes for, at least in my opinion, along the baselines where dugouts are located and at least halfway down depending on the ballpark. If memory serves me correctly at Coolray Field the netting stops at the end of the dugouts and gives fans along the rest of the baseline a good view at a safe distance.

An example of a warning sign at Fenway Park. Love the directness! Credit: MPR News

Of course no matter where you sit at a ballpark there’s always a slight chance a ball can reach you. That’s why at most, if not all, ballparks there’s a warning to fans before the game to watch for balls and other flying objects. At SunTrust Park there are signs placed up in the stands with a similar warning. Such is the best way to protect parks from legal trouble while not angering fans who want to view a game without a net in front of them.

Another point to consider is that if there is netting all around a field, there’s not a chance to get a game ball. Baseball fans of all ages love to catch a ball at the game, and it’s even more thrilling if it comes off the bat of your favorite player. There’s no need to sacrifice a great game experience for a potential safety concern.

The best way to protect yourself at a baseball game is to be aware of your surroundings. I’ll admit that part of the reason I got hit was because I wasn’t paying attention. I understand that even the quickest human reflexes may not be enough to stop a flying baseball. But I was not doing myself any favors by not watching the ball when it came our way. If you purchase a ticket in an area where there is not protection, then you are responsible for being aware of the potential threat.

2019 STATEWIDE TURKEY HUNTING SEASON OPENS MARCH 23

Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


2019 STATEWIDE TURKEY HUNTING SEASON OPENS MARCH 23

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 18, 2019) – Georgia turkey hunters are ready for the season to open on Saturday, Mar. 23. The 2019 turkey hunting season should be a fair season, similar to 2018, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.  

“Reproduction in 2017 was lower than the four-year average, so that could mean a lower than usual supply of 2 year-old gobblers across much of the state in 2019,” explains Emily Rushton, Wildlife Resources Division wild turkey project coordinator. “However, that lower average comes between two better years, so hopefully other age classes will remain plentiful.”

With a bag limit of three gobblers per season, hunters have from Mar. 23 through May 15 – one of the longest seasons in the nation – to harvest their bird(s).  

What should hunters expect this spring? The Ridge and Valley, Piedmont and Lower Coastal Plain should have the best success based on 2017 reproduction information. The Blue Ridge region had a poor 2017 reproductive season, but saw a significant jump in 2018, so there may be a lot of young birds in the woods. The Upper Coastal Plain saw reproduction below their five-year average for the past two years, so numbers in that part of the state may be down.

Cedar Creek and Cedar Creek-Little River WMA Hunters, take note! The 2019 turkey season will run April 6-May 15 on these properties. This is two weeks later than the statewide opening date. This difference is due to ongoing research between the University of Georgia and WRD, who are investigating the timing of hunting pressure and its effects on gobbler behavior and reproductive success. Through this research, biologists and others hope to gain insight to the reasons for an apparent population decline in order to help improve turkey populations and hunter success at Cedar Creek WMA and statewide.

Georgia Game Check: All turkey hunters must report their harvest using Georgia Game Check. Turkeys can be reported on the Outdoors GA app (www.georgiawildlife.com/outdoors-ga-app), which now works whether you have cell service or not, at gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, or by calling 1-800-366-2661. App users, if you have not used the app since deer season or before, make sure you have the latest version. More information at www.georgiawildlife.com/HarvestRecordGeorgiaGameCheck.

Hunters age 16 years or older (including those accompanying youth or others) will need a hunting license and a big game license, unless hunting on their own private land.  Get your license at www.gooutdoorsgeorgia.com, at a retail license vendor or by phone at 1-800-366-2661. With many pursuing wild turkeys on private land, hunters are reminded to obtain landowner permission before hunting.

 

Conservation of the Wild Turkey in Georgia

The restoration of the wild turkey is one of Georgia’s great conservation success stories.  Currently, the bird population hovers around 300,000 statewide, but as recently as 1973, the wild turkey population was as low as 17,000. Intensive restoration efforts, such as the restocking of wild birds and establishment of biologically sound hunting seasons facilitated the recovery of wild turkeys in every county. This successful effort resulted from cooperative partnerships between private landowners, hunters, conservation organizations like the National Wild Turkey Federation, and the Wildlife Resources Division.

The Georgia Chapter of the National Wild Turkey Federation has donated more than $4,000,000 since 1985 for projects that benefit wild turkey and other wildlife. The NWTF works in partnership with the Wildlife Resources Division and other land management agencies on habitat enhancement, hunter access, wild turkey research and education. The NWTF has a vital initiative called “Save the Habitat, Save the Hunt,” focused on habitat management, hunter access and hunter recruitment.

“Hunters should know that each time they purchase a license or equipment used to turkey hunt, such as shotguns, ammunition and others, that they are part of this greater conservation effort for wildlife in Georgia,” said Rushton.  “Through the Wildlife Restoration Program, a portion of the money spent comes back to states and is put back into on-the-ground efforts such as habitat management and species research and management.”

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations .   

 

Photos courtesy of Brian Vickery. After watching his older sister have two successful seasons, 7 year-old Luke is able to take his first bird during the special opportunity youth turkey hunting season.

REVIEW TURKEY HUNTING SAFETY TIPS BEFORE SEASON BEGINS

Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

REVIEW TURKEY HUNTING SAFETY TIPS BEFORE SEASON BEGINS

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 18, 2019) – Before you head to the woods this Spring in pursuit of a gobbler or two, the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division encourages all hunters to take some time to review important turkey hunting safety tips.

“Firearms safety knowledge is critical to keeping you, and others, safe while in the woods,” advises Jennifer Pittman, statewide hunter education administrator with the Wildlife Resources Division. “In addition to firearms safety tips, hunters should review and practice safety precautions specific to turkey hunting.”

Turkey Hunting Safety Tips:

  • Never wear red, white, blue or black clothing while turkey hunting. Red is the color most hunters look for when distinguishing a gobbler’s head from a hen’s blue-colored head, but at times it may appear white or blue. Male turkey feathers covering most of the body are black in appearance. Camouflage should be used to cover everything, including the hunter’s face, hands and firearm.
  • Select a calling position that provides at least a shoulder-width background, such as the base of a tree. Be sure that at least a 180-degree range is visible.
  • Do not stalk a gobbling turkey. Due to their keen eyesight and hearing, the chances of getting close are slim to none.
  • When using a turkey call, the sound and motion may attract the interest of other hunters. Do not move, wave or make turkey-like sounds to alert another hunter to your presence. Instead, identify yourself in a loud voice.
  • Be careful when carrying a harvested turkey from the woods. Do not allow the wings to hang loosely or the head to be displayed in such a way that another hunter may think it is a live bird. If possible, cover the turkey in a blaze orange garment or other material.
  • Although it’s not required, it is suggested that hunters wear blaze orange when moving between a vehicle and a hunting site. When moving between hunting sites, hunters should wear blaze orange on their upper bodies to facilitate their identification by other hunters.

For more hunting information, visit www.georgiawildlife.com/hunting/regulations .

BEFORE TURKEY SEASON BEGINS, DO YOU NEED A HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE?

Outdoors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

BEFORE TURKEY SEASON BEGINS, DO YOU NEED A HUNTER EDUCATION COURSE?

SOCIAL CIRCLE, Ga. (March 18, 2019) – Do you need hunter education before you head to the woods? You have options! Hunters in need of the Georgia hunter education course can choose to go completely online or attend a classroom course, according to the Georgia Department of Natural Resources’ Wildlife Resources Division.

“In 2018, over 14,000 people completed the Georgia hunter education course – either online or in a classroom,” says Jennifer Pittman, statewide hunter education administrator with the Wildlife Resources Division. “I am glad that we can continue to offer both classroom and online options, as it gives students a choice of what works best with their schedules, especially those with time constraints.”

The four available online courses each require a fee (from $9.95 – $24.95) but all are “pass or don’t pay” courses. Fees for these courses are charged by and collected by the independent course developer. The classroom course is free of charge.  

Completion of a hunter education course is required for any person born on or after January 1, 1961, who:

  • purchases a season hunting license in Georgia.
  • is at least 12 years old and hunts without adult supervision.
  • hunts big game (deer, turkey, bear) on a wildlife management area.

The only exceptions include any person who:

  • purchases a short-term hunting license, i.e. anything less than annual duration (as opposed to a season license).
  • is hunting on his or her own land, or that of his or her parents or legal guardians.

For more information, go to https://georgiawildlife.com/hunting/huntereducation or call 770-761-3010.

Amazon Eclipse Glasses Recall

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Georgia Department of Public Health encourages “eclipse glasses” for 2017 total eclipse – Press Release

Health

Pesticide Safety Month and Apple Producers Meeting

Outdoors

Hundreds of people get sick each year from inappropriate pesticide use.  Pesticides are used in homes, workplaces, apartments, farms and other places where humans need to control pests such as weeds, insects, fungi, rodents and even viruses. Of the 11 states participating in the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) pesticide safety program, workers reported 853 serious injuries from pesticides in 2011.  During National Pesticide Safety Education Month this February, University of Georgia Cooperative Extension personnel are urging homeowners, and all Georgians, to learn more about the safe use, storage and disposal of pesticides.

According to Dr. Mickey Taylor, UGA Extension Pesticide Safety Education Program (PSEP) Coordinator, “pesticide safety education is key to helping homeowners and pesticide applicators, both commercial and agricultural, safely and effectively use available pesticides to protect their homes and crops and livelihoods.  At the same time, they want to protect themselves, their employees and colleagues from any potential ill effects of pesticide use in addition to protecting their families and neighbors. As good stewards of the land, pesticide users want to preserve our environment for the future.”

UGA Extension’s PSEP promotes the safe, responsible use of pesticides by individuals and commercial groups by providing training programs, materials and educational resources covering pest identification, personal safety, safe storage and disposal of pesticides, environmental protection, pesticide drift and runoff prevention, threatened and endangered species protection, water quality protection, and food safety.

One way that UGA Extension reinforces safe pesticide usage is to conduct workshops, meetings, and trainings in which pesticide usage and safe handling is taught.  One such course coming up is the North Georgia Commercial Apple Production meeting.  It will be held on Wednesday, February 21st at the Gilmer County Public Library on Calvin Jackson Drive in Ellijay.  There are other regional trainings held for producers.  If you would like information about those trainings, contact me in the Gilmer County UGA Extension office.

Dr. Taylor is also the editor of the UGA Extension “Georgia Pest Management Handbook.”  The handbook is revised and published annually.  It has information about labeled pesticides that can be used by homeowners and commercial producers. Copies of the handbook are available for purchase through the UGA market place at ugaextensionstore.com and there are copies in the UGA Extension county offices if you would like to view one before purchase. Remember to always read the label before you use or store any pesticide.

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Georgia State Patrol Making Final Preparations for the Thanksgiving Travel Period

Community, Featured

State troopers urge safety for the Thanksgiving holiday. The holiday travel period is 102 hours and it begins at 6 p.m. on Wednesday, November 23, and ends at midnight Sunday, November 27.

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“Troopers will be focusing on occupant protection violations, and keeping a close eye out for impaired drivers and other traffic violations that could potentially cause a crash,” said Colonel Mark W. McDonough, Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Public Safety. “We want to make holiday travel as safe as possible,” he added.

Last year, during a similar 102-hour period, troopers investigated 788 traffic crashes across the state that resulted in 377 injuries and nine fatalities. In addition to the traffic crash investigations, troopers arrested 319 people for driving under the influence while issuing 9,620 citations and 15,729 warnings.

Troopers will not only be patrolling the interstates but the secondary roads as well. Make sure that everyone in your vehicle is wearing a seat belt and that small children are properly restrained in a child safety seat. Also, do not drive distracted and obey the posted speed. If you know that you will be consuming alcohol, designate a sober driver. “Sadly, each holiday period more than one-half of the people killed in motor vehicle crashes are impaired or not using safety belts,” Colonel McDonough said.

The Georgia State Patrol will also be teaming up with law enforcement officials from across the state for a concerted effort to encourage safe travel through Operation Click It or Ticket, Georgia’s high visibility seat belt enforcement program and Operation C.A.R.E., or Combined Accident Reduction Effort. Operation C.A.R.E. is a nationwide traffic safety initiative aimed at reducing the number of crashes, injuries and fatalities on the nation’s roads by balancing high visibility enforcement with educational outreach.

The holiday traffic count will be updated throughout the holiday travel period on the Georgia Department of Public Safety Twitter page: https://twitter.com/ga_dps.

HUDGENS URGES CAUTION WITH HOLIDAY COOKING

News

downloadHUDGENS URGES CAUTION WITH HOLIDAY COOKING

 

Atlanta – Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner Ralph Hudgens urges Georgians to use caution while cooking this holiday season and remember to keep an eye on reheating leftovers.

 

“We’ve had 11 fire deaths in Georgia this year in which the cause was cooking-related,” Hudgens said. “Over the years we have seen many fires caused by a range top that was left unattended.”

 

Hudgens suggested the following tips for cooking safety:

 

  • Always set a timer when cooking, so you won’t forget to turn off the range top or oven.

 

  • If a pan catches fire, cover it with a lid immediately and turn off the burner.

 

  • Don’t fight a grease fire with water, as it may make the fire worse. Consider purchasing a fire extinguisher to keep in your kitchen.

 

  • Wear tight-fitting sleeves when cooking. Loose clothing can contact a burner and ignite. If this happens, remember “stop, drop and roll.” Stop where you are, cover your face with your hands, and roll over to smother the flames.

 

  • Never use a cooking stove to heat your home.

 

  • Install an adequate number of smoke alarms. Most fatal fires start between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m., while the family is asleep. The advance warning of a smoke alarm may mean the difference between life and death.

Pet Safety on the 4th of July!

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