COVID task force: Not the time to be complacent
The Gordon County COVID-19 task force is encouraging people to continue following safety guidelines. COVID-19 cases in Gordon County rose to 240 over the last two weeks, compared to 170 in the two weeks prior.
The task force released the following statement:
“Over the last couple of weeks cases in Gordon County, the State of Georgia and the country have increased after multiple weeks of declines in case numbers. As these numbers declined people may have become more relaxed on precautions such as social distancing, avoiding large gatherings, washing hands, staying home if you are sick and the wearing of masks. As these numbers continue to trend upward this is not the time to become complacent and lose the gains we have made. We are asking each citizen and family to please remain diligent to keeping yourself and your family as safe as possible by continuing to observe recommendations from public health officials.
We will continue to monitor situations daily and do all that we can to keep our citizens safe. Since the beginning of this pandemic we have worked diligently to try and stay ahead of this virus as a team here in Gordon County. We ask that our citizens continue to do the things that can be done during this time to help our community as a whole. If you do feel you need to be tested the Gordon County Health Department continues testing at the Gordon County Senior Center which is currently closed to normal operations. The Senior Center is located at 150 Cambridge Court in Calhoun and free testing will be conducted on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8:30-4:30. No appointment is needed for this testing.”
The COVID-19 task force meets every two weeks and communicates daily. It includes members of emergency management, the hospital, and other government officials.
Gordon Central High School and Sonoraville High School go to hybrid schedule as COVID rates increase
Early voting sees record numbers
The Gordon County Elections Office received a verbal pat-on-the-back after Commissioner Bud Owens commended them.
“I’ve had so many people tell me what a great experience it was, that it ran smoothly, the staff was nice,” Owens told the commissioners.
County Administrator James Ledbetter said more than 6,000 people have voted early in Gordon County and the poll workers have worked to keep everything safe.
“They have one who opens the doors for people so voters won’t have to touch the doors,” he said, adding that the voting cards and machines are sanitized after each use.
Alcohol license suspended
The commissioners voted to suspend the alcohol license for Rainbow Corner, 4594 Dews Pond Road, after several violations. The violations include selling alcohol and tobacco to people under the age of 21 and allowing a convicted felon to be the holder of the license. The suspension will remain in effect until at least the November 3 meeting, when the board will decide to reinstate the license or continue the suspension.
The commissioners awarded a contract for janitorial services at the Agriculture Center to ICS Cleaning Service for $9,000. Although it was not the lowest of the seven bids, it was under the $12,000 maximum amount. The lowest bid was Hammi Building Services at $6,771.96 but they did not receive the recommendation because while they currently hold the contract, the county has received complaints about their performance.
“They just weren’t getting the job done, that’s why we put it out to bid,” said Ledbetter.
In other news:
- The board appointed Jim Bradley, the ordinance officer, as the agent responsible for deciding if abandoned mobile homes are derelict, giving landowners another level of due process to get rid of unwanted trailers left on their property.
- Tax bills are mailed.
- Work is underway at the courthouse annex, which will become the main courthouse upon completion. Plans include extending it and adding a level to it.
- The county is interviewing the most qualified candidates for the position of financial director.
Audit finds SPLOST and LOST funds for Gordon County
Gordon County saw a 67-percent increase in Special Local Option Sales Tax, or SPLOST, and a 76-percent in LOST in September 2020 from September 2021. While it wasn’t exactly a mass shopping spree in Gordon County, it was the result of a sales tax coded wrong on the state level.
In September 2020-2021, LOST revenues were $867,534.93, $366,402.95 more than the $501,131.98 in September 2019-2020. SPLOST collections were $1,319,671.18, a $530,553.23 more than the same period last year. That is a total amount of $896,956.
“They can’t share which company it was, but it was a major company,” said James Ledbetter, county administrator. “They had paid $247 million in sales tax that was coded wrong. They found it and gave it to us.”
According to the administrator’s report, Gordon County wasn’t the only county shorted funds as about $247 million dollars was coded as being due to the state and a decision was made to pay all the local governments a lump sum. It was caught during an audit.
Grady bill reduced
Ledbetter said the county was able to get an inmate’s medical bill cut by almost 96-percent. The county received a $159,000 hospital bill from Grady Memorial Hospital. The bill is from a severe self-inflicted inmate injury at the Gordon County Jail.
The bill dropped to $9,000 from $159,000 after Gordon County officials used the medical expense review service, provided by ACCG, to negotiate the bill.
“We have to provide care for inmates,” he said. “But I almost feel guilty about this.”
Other finance news:
The Government Finance Officers Association of the United States has awarded the Certificate of Achievement for Excellence in Financial Accounting to Gordon County. The Certificate of Achievement is the highest form of recognition in the area of Government Accounting and Financial Reporting. The award demonstrates the commitment of Gordon County Government to clearly communicate its financial picture to the public. Gordon County has received this recognition every year since Al Leonard became Finance Director in the early 2000’s.
The Oostanaula community in Gordon County might see some upgrades to the Brookshire Park. The passive park may include a pavilion and picnic tables. The county applied for a grant to help fund the upgrades. No estimate on cost is available as the work has not been bid out.
Macey Silvers of E-911 was recognized for seven years service with Gordon County.
The Gordon County Board of Commissioners approved two zoning applications. Clyde and Cindy Burchett’s request to rezone property from A-1 to RA-A was approved and Oasis Detox Spa’s request to rezone from A-1 to O-I Office Institutional was conditionally approved, pending completion of the driveway.
Early voting begins October 12 in the elections office on the bottom floor of the Courthouse Annex.
A peaceful protest supporting Kyle Rittenhouse brought out about 20 men and a few women to the Gordon County Courthouse Saturday afternoon. Kyle Rittenhouse was arrested and charged with murder after shooting three rioters in Kenosha, Wisconsin, sparking worse rioting and have divided the nation into those who view the incident as self-defense and those who see it as unprovoked.
“We are here to support Kyle who was wrongfully arrested for defending himself from a violent organization,” said a black man in attendance. He didn’t want to give his name because he was a member of a militia.
Others, like Lisa Deyton, shared her name and her opinion. “We have our voice. We want justice for Kyle.”
She and her husband, Joshua, are militia members and came from Blairsville to show their support.
Another man said he was Adam Freeman, but quickly added with a chuckle,”It’s four words.”
WATCH WHAT THE EVENT ORGANIZER SAYS.
He said he was there to show his support for a multitude of issues, including Kyle, saving children, and aggravation for COVID-19. He switched out his signs, rotating through and several cars honked their horns, other rolled down their window and shouted support and encouragement. Motorcyclists rode by and threw up a finger wave in support. Trucks would squeal tires and one car played “Dixie.”
Ryan Myers, who organized the event, said he wanted the public to know he wanted peace for his child, and he supports people being able to express their opinions.
“I blame his situation on the government for not protecting it’s citizens and the media dividing us,” said Myers. “It’s not right that kids on both sides are being indoctined and feeling like they have to do this.”
The Gordon County Board of Commissioners approved a memorandum of understanding for payment in lieu of taxes for CFL Flooring , which is building a new facility in Gordon County at their meeting on Monday.
“This is a major investment into Gordon County,” said Jim Ledbetter, county administrator. CFL Flooring Solutions will spend about $70 million on the new manufacturing facility on Hwy. 41, near Adairsville. The tax abatement will be broken down over a 10-year period, years one through four will have a 100-percent abatement; years five through seven 50-percent; years eight and nine at 20-percent; and the last year at 10-percent.
The company will hire about 300 employees with an average salary of $20 per hour with benefits.
Gov. Brian Kemp said the impact would be felt in region.
“We are thrilled that CFL has chosen Gordon County to expand their business operations to more effectively reach their customer base,” said Kemp. “The impact of this announcement will be felt across the region as the company seeks to employ 300 hardworking Georgians.”
Founded in Shanghai in 2004, CFL employs 3,500 at three factories, multiple offices, and distribution centers around the world. Thomas Baert, owner and president of CFL, stated “This marks a next step in our plan to become a global company, and we are looking forward to contributing to the economic well-being of the community in Calhoun, Gordon County, and Georgia.”
“The CFL factory and showrooms in Calhoun will drastically increase convenience of working with our partners and distributors,” said Tom Van Poyer, CFL owner and CEO. “Being able to supply products produced in the United States will allow us not only to sustain our leadership position in product design and product innovation, but also create a platform allowing second-to-none service through reduced delivery times.”
WATCH THE GC BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS MEETING
CFL will locate to a newly constructed 252,000-square-foot facility at 3576 US Highway 41 in Calhoun, with plans to build another 250,000 square feet in the near future. Perry Coker, CEO of CFL North America, added “This certainly is another major step for CFL. Most of our customers have been true partners for many years, and we have grown together. It just makes sense to make this commitment to produce closer to them, and all the benefits that go with that. But we still also have the advantage of using all our assets around the world to continue to provide unique and innovative flooring products.”
New Travel Center near Union Grove
The new Buc-ees Travel center is progressing with opening tenatively scheduled for October.
“Opening day is a moving target,” said Ledbetter.
All the company asked for was the county, city, and Developmental Authority pay for a redlight at the intersection of Union Grove Road, Johnson Lake Road, and Belwood Road, at a cost of $655,000.
Senior Center being used for COVID-19 testing
The commissioners approved a Memorandum of Understanding Between Gordon County Board of Health and Gordon County Senior Center for COVID-19 testing. They will offer drive-through testing on Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 8 a.m.-12 p.m. and some Saturdays.
The senior center has been closed since the pandemic, although it has been operating a nutrition program.
READ ABOUT THIRD-PARTY TAG RENEWALS CHARGING HIGH AMOUNTS
In other business, the Gordon County commissioners
- Recognized Heath Derryberry, Gordon County Fire Department, for 16 years of service.
- Approved filling a vacant position at the E-911.
- Approved ACCG Safety Discount Verifications for Workers’ Compensation Fund and for Property and Liability Insurance
- Approved Malt Beverage, Wine and Liquor License for Town and Country Store
- Approved naming commissioner Bud Owens as the voting delegate for the ACCG 2021 agenda
- Approved a Declaration of Surplus Property for the Sheriff’s Department for a 2004 Chevy Tahoe VIN#1GNEC13V84R290863
ATLANTA – On August 24, fire investigators with the Office of Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner John F. King issued a warrant charging Joshua R. Hazelwood, 42, of Rydal, with Arson in the 1st Degree. He was already in the custody of the Gordon County Sheriff’s Office on other charges.
The Arson charge stems from a fire that occurred around 4:00 a.m. on Saturday, August 22, at 1422 Shope Lake Road in Rydal. The fire was started on a gas stove and completely destroyed the 47-year-old, 2,136-square-foot home.
“Thanks to the work of local Gordon County officials, we were able to quickly identify and charge the subject in question,” said Commissioner King. “This type of crime is extremely dangerous and we take seriously the work of bringing these individuals to justice.”
Commissioner King’s Fire Investigations Unit assisted the Gordon County Fire Department and Gordon County Sheriff’s Office with this investigation.
The mission of the Office of the Insurance and Safety Fire Commissioner is to protect Georgia families by providing access to vital insurance products and safe buildings through fair regulation that creates economic opportunities for all Georgians.
Two members of the Gordon County jail staff and one inmate has tested positive of COVID 19, according to a press release from the Gordon County Sheriff’s office.
The inmate had been receiving treatment for an unrelated condition when he tested positive. He remains hospitalized in a regional facility for the original medical issue. Other staff members, as well as inmates who have complained of fever, have been tested, but those tests are still pending. The staff members who tested positive or who are waiting on results have been put on leave. Inmates who have shown symptoms or have been tested have been quarantined.
Jail staff continues to decontaminate the facility, which can house 376 inmates. Jail medical staff have been working to identify and treat any inmates with symptoms.
All inmates have access to telephone and email, although in-person visitation remains restricted.
Resaca Confederate Cemetery was recently vandalized amid growing tensions between those wanting to remove all reminders of slavery and those who want to preserve history. No arrests have been made but the incident is under investigation by the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department. According to the report made by Deputy E.L. Kirby with the Gordon County Sheriff’s Department, some of the flags were laid down to spell “Stop Racism.”
John Biddy, Commander, Gen. Stand Watie Camp #915, Sons of Confederate Veterans, said none of the grave markers were damaged. All the damage was done to the second Confederate flag, which features a white rectangle two times as wide as it is tall, a red quadrilateral in the canton, and inside the canton is a blue saltire or St. Andrew’s cross, with 13 white stars.
The first Confederate flags, which feature three horizontal stripes alternating red and white, with a blue square. Inside the square are white stars.
Read more about the cemetery here.
“It was probably just a little bit of ignorance in history,” Biddy said as to why the St. Andrew’s cross flags were targeted but not the others. “There were several Confederate flags.”
Although the damage was minimal, Biddy pointed out the flags were purchased by a private citizen and placed on the graves, but the alleged vandals removed the flags, threw them in the center of the cemetery and stomped on them.
The incident happened between 1 p.m. and 8 p.m. Tuesday, June 20.
The 2.5 acre lot, located off U.S. Highway 41 was founded on October 25, 1866 when John Green’s family returned to their plantation to find the bodies of Confederate soldiers buried in crude, makeshift graves across their yard.
Mary J. Green and her sister began working toward giving the soldiers a proper burial and although many in the area were left in poverty, they were able collect donations. John Greene, the superintendent of the Georgia Railroad, gave his daughters the land for the cemetery. Many of the 450 graves are unknown and only one civilian is buried there – Mrs. E.J. Simmons who was the president of the historical society and headed the movement to place a memorial stone in the cemetery.