BREAKING NEWS: Shooting in Dawson County

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Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson said authorities are investigating a shooting that took place this afternoon at the Chevron station at Georgia 400 and Dawsonville Highway.

Johnson said one of his deputies was giving a man a courtesy ride to the store and had planned to give the man some money to buy a few things when the man started striking the deputy in the face.

According to Johnson, a woman who witnessed the incident pulled a handgun and shot the suspect who then fled across state Route 400 to the McDonald’s restaurant where he assaulted a woman.

Johnson said the deputy, the woman who was assaulted and the suspect have been taken to an area hospital.

No names have been released at this time.

Fetch Your News will have more details as they become available

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Sheriff Prepared to Sue County Over 2018 Budget

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Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — First-year Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson wants a bigger slice of the 2018 county budget than commissioners approved last month and he is prepared to take them to court to get it.

Johnson’s attorney Joseph Homans sent County Attorney Lynn Frey an email requesting additional legal fees for the sheriff regarding the petition for mandamus he intends to file in Superior Court should the county not approve the budget submitted by the sheriff in July.

According to the petition, that request was for $8,961,406. In September county commissioners approved a budget of $8,273,080.

The petition states, “The budget approved by Respondents constitutes abuse of discretion as Respondents failed to fulfill their duty to adopt a budget making reasonable and adequate provisions for personnel and equipment necessary to enable the Sheriff to perform his duties.”

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond

As of Tuesday (Oct. 24), Homans said he had nothad a response from the county.

Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond said, “We are looking at it with our attorney right now. We will discuss it in executive session on Thursday and I will be able to say more about it then.”

The sheriff’s budgeting process is unlike any in state government. Commissioners control the budget, but sheriffs are constitutional officers, elected by the citizens. Their budgets cannot be cut unless the sheriff agrees.

Commissioners contend the budget they approved reflects an increase over the 2017 budget.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sheriff, County Remain at Odds Over Budget

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Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – After the second of three scheduled public hearings Thursday, the Dawson County Board of Commissioners and first-term Sheriff Jeff Johnson remain at odds over the sheriff’s 2018 budget request.

Johnson’s request to provide services that include the jail, K-9, school resource officers, 911 and court is $8,130,477. The sheriff’s budget in 2017 is $6,822,566. Commissioners have proposed $7,344,486, an increase of about half a million dollars but nowhere near what is being requested.

Johnson says, “That amount is inadequate. The amount budgeted last year wasn’t insufficient then. We’re just trying to increase it by a reasonable amount and not be excessive in order to meet what the needs are.”

Comm. Julie Hughes-Nix

He also points to the tremendous growth in retail and residential, especially along the Ga. 400 corridor that will place greater demands on his office. “We’re anticipating a 28 percent increase in the amount of calls we will respond to in 2018,” he said.

The sheriff’s request includes the unfreezing of seven employee positions, one new criminal investigator and a 2 percent cost of living increase for sheriff’s office employees.

Johnson and attorney Joey Homans have asked to meet with commissioners again before the budget is scheduled to be adopted on Sept. 21 to plead their case. As of Friday morning, Johnson said commissioners had not responded to that request.

County officials will point to a Georgia Department of Community Affairs survey that shows Dawson County citizens already pay more to operate the sheriff’s office and jail than any other county in north Georgia. In the 26 counties surveyed, Dawson County citizens pay $273 each, followed by Rabun County where citizens pay $210 each. Nowhere else do citizens pay as much as $200 each.

Johnson says that is an apples to oranges comparison.

“We’re the only law enforcement provider here,” he said. “There is no city police. No other law enforcement entity whatsoever. In all those other counties there is some sort of jurisdiction to help them out.”

But commissioners say that a $1.3 million increase is more than citizens should have to bear.

While next year’s millage will remain the same, homeowners will still see a 4.4 percent increase in their taxes next year.

“I have a tremendous amount of respect for the sheriff and the men and women of our sheriff’s office,” Commissioner Julie Hughes-Nix said. ”It gave me great pleasure to vote for the wage and salary study that provided a well-deserved pay increase for them this year. But we have to be fair to our citizens and do our best to hold the line on spending. The sheriff is asking for an increase of more than $1 million in last year’s budget. I just don’t think we can spend that much more and be fair to the taxpayers.”

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

 

 

 

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Second Budget Hearing is Set for Thursday

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Dawson County Board of Commissioners

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Those who would like a chance to voice their concerns about the proposed fiscal year 2018 budget will have that opportunity when the Dawson County Board of Commissioners holds a called meeting and the second public hearing on the $37.3 million spending bill Thursday at 4 p.m.

The budget proposal represents a 3.7 percent increase over last year’s $36 million budget. If it is adopted in its present form, it will require the use of $1.38 million from the fund balance (reserves.)

Among the goals set by commissioners in drafting the budget was creation of a realistic, revenue-based budget that would require no increase in the millage rate and at the same time provide improved funding for all departments that would allow them to an improved level of service.

Sheriff Jeff Johnson

Some of the challenges the board faced this year included the $1.08 million cost to implement staff salary increases recommended by last year’s wage and salary study an 18 percent increase in the cost of employee health insurance and increased operational needs of multiple departments.

The Sheriff’s Office is seeking the largest budgetary increase of about $500,000 from $6.82 million last year to $7.3 million this year. Sheriff Johnson has said growth in commerce along the Ga. 400 corridor and the addition of several major residential developments requires additional staff and funding.

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Lt. Governor Casey Cagle Visits Dawsonville

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From left Sen. Steve Gooch, Bill Elliott and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Former NASCAR great Bill Elliott — better known as Awesome Bill from Dawsonville —  and a large contingent of community leaders welcomed Lt. Governor Casey Cagle to Dawsonville Wednesday morning.  Cagle is in the midst of a 17-stop bus tour of north Georgia to promote his campaign for governor.

You have to wonder if Elliott gave the Hall County Republican some inside tips on how to make a quick pit stop because after spending a little quality time with Dawson County community leaders and a quick stump speech, Cagle sped off to Pickens, Gilmer, Gordon, and Whitfield counties.

Before getting back on the road, Cagle visited with Commission Chairman Billy Thurmond, Commissioners Jimmy Hamby and Chris Gaines, Mayor James Grogan, County Manager David Headley, Sherriff Jeff Johnson and Chamber President Christie Hayes.

Former Commission Chairman Mike Berg introduced the lieutenant governor who didn’t need much of an introduction since he once represented the county as State Senator and has been lieutenant governor for eight years.

Cagle’s said he would focus on transportation, jobs, education and providing broadband to rural areas of Georgia

Cagle said, Georgia needs a transportation plan to accommodate a population growth of about 4.5 million people in the next 15 years.

“We have to get busy with a two-year strategic plan built around transportation that is able to go under, go over, go around, whatever is required to prepared ourselves for the kind of growth that is coming.”

On jobs, Cagle said he wants to build a world-class workforce second to none. “As I woke up this morning there were 150,000 jobs available today and out of that 150,000, 25 percent need four-year degrees but 75 percent need industry certification or a two-year degree. So, I want to make sure we are aligning education with what industry needs.”

On education he said, “The college and career education network I created reshapes the way we deliver education, giving our kids more options.”

Cagle also repeated his pledge of 500,000 new jobs during his first term in office and $100 million in tax cuts in the first 100 days.

Cagle said he understands how important broadband access is to education and to attracting business to Georgia and he fired a salvo over the heads of broadband internet providers.

“We’re going to have best in class as it pertains to rural broadband,” he said. “I’m going to set a standard that I expect every single provider in this state to reach. I know we have a problem with last mile so we’ll be looking at technology that will allow us to provide that. But I’m not going to accept any excuses. The providers are going to get in gear to make this a reality or we’re going to find someone that can. It’s just that simple.

Asked if the state school board members should be elected or appointed, he said, “Many people believe that the superintendent should be appointed almost like a cabinet position. I don’t believe that having an elected state school board is going to fundamentally improve education.”

On what has been a highly controversial religious freedom bill, Cagle said, “I and the other candidates have signed a pledge that if there is a federal mirror Xerox copy of what is already federal law that comes to my desk, I will sign it. There are a lot of social issues out there that are very divisive. As a born-again Christian, with a strong belief in religious freedom, I don’t want anyone trampling on that. As governor, I am also not for discrimination. So we’re not using this in a way that will cloak ourselves in a way that allows us to discriminate. So, these are balancing acts. We’ll do it in a way that doesn’t cost us business.”

 

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com

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Sheriff’s Office Employee Charged with Forgery

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Katie Ann Moore worked at the Dawson County Detention Center

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A Dawson County Sheriff’s Office employee was arrested Tuesday and charged with forgery in the first degree, a felony charge.

Moore, who has worked at the sheriff’s office since May 2015, was a detention officer at the Dawson County Detention Center.

A resident of Murrayville and member of the Georgia National Guard, Moore is accused of presenting a false document regarding the date she was to report for duty with the National Guard.

After an investigation, it was determined the document was fictitious.

Multiple messages left on Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson’s office and cell phone have not been returned.

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Walmart Evacuated After Bomb Threat Sunday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson confirmed Monday afternoon that it was a bomb threat that led to the evacuation of Walmart off Ga. 400 Sunday.

In an email, Johnson said the Sheriff’s Office received a bomb threat at approximately 6:29 p.m. Sunday. Deputies responded and a three-hour search was conducted utilizing Explosive Detection K9s and handlers from both the Cherokee and Forsyth County Sheriff’s Offices.

Johnson said that after a thorough search, the scene was cleared and the store reopened.

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