It’s official: NGHS to build hospital in Lumpkin Co.

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GAINESVILLE, Ga. — Northeast Georgia Health System (NGHS) announced plans to offer hospital services at the former home of Chestatee Regional Hospital later this year and begin developing a new replacement hospital along Georgia 400 in Lumpkin County.

“We’re thrilled to share this exciting news, which ensures people in and around Lumpkin County will have local access to the high-quality health care they need for generations to come,” says Carol Burrell, president and CEO of NGHS.  “We appreciate the patience of the community as we’ve worked to create solutions that are high-quality, sustainable, and deliver on our mission to improve the health of the community in all we do.”

“This is an answered prayer for those of us who have lived and worked in Lumpkin County for decades,” says Donna Whitfield, MD, a fifth-generation Dahlonega native and internal medicine physician with Northeast Georgia Physicians Group who has practiced in Lumpkin County for 18 years.  “The roots of NGHS run deep in this area, which it’s helped care for since Northeast Georgia Medical Center Gainesville opened in 1951, and we know there’s no other organization better suited to start a new era of healthcare in this community.”

The NGHS team has already started working to open an emergency department – along with some inpatient beds, imaging equipment and other services – in July 2019 at the existing building that was once home to Chestatee Regional Hospital.  The new hospital facility will be called Northeast Georgia Medical Center Lumpkin, or NGMC Lumpkin for short.  Complete emergency services will be provided 24/7/365 by the same group of physicians that care for emergency patients at all Northeast Georgia Medical Center (NGMC) hospitals.

“Our physicians and Lumpkin County EMS already work very closely together, as the majority of emergency trauma, cardiac and stroke patients from the area have been transported to NGMC Gainesville for years,” says Mohak Davé, MD, chief of Emergency Medicine for NGMC.  “Now, we look forward to providing excellent emergency care for people in Lumpkin County and surrounding communities – closer to their homes.”

While offering services at the existing hospital site will preserve the Certificate of Need authority to operate a hospital in Lumpkin County and meet the short-term needs of the community, planning has also begun for a new replacement hospital facility to sit on 57 acres NGHS already owns along Georgia 400, near the intersection with Highway 60.  The new facility is tentatively scheduled to open in 2022 and expected to provide emergency services, inpatient medical/surgical care, imaging services and a focus on outpatient surgery.

“When we recently interviewed and surveyed people in the Lumpkin County area, the overwhelming majority told us three things – they need an emergency room, they want a new hospital that meets the needs of the community, and they trust and prefer Northeast Georgia Health System to care for them,” says Louis Smith, president of Acute and Post-Acute Operations for NGHS.  “We heard them, and we intend to deliver on all three counts.”

The number of beds and operating rooms at the new replacement hospital facility will be determined during the planning process, which will also explore innovative ways to deliver care.

“As the population and needs of this area grow, creating a new healthcare destination presents an opportunity to explore new ideas and expand the way people think about hospitals,” says Dr. Whitfield.  “I’m extremely interested in understanding how we can use digital technology, for things like virtual visits, and involve aspects of integrative medicine which include holistic care for the mind and spirit – not just the body.”

As the transition from the existing hospital facility to the new hospital facility is on the horizon, planning for how the existing facility will be used long-term is also in the works. NGHS currently leases the former Chestatee Regional Hospital property from The University System of Georgia Board of Regents. At some point in the future, the University of North Georgia will likely relocate some of its health sciences programs and services to the property.

“These positive changes in our local healthcare landscape create exciting opportunities to enhance the way we teach and prepare our students,” says Dr. Bonita Jacobs, president of the University of North Georgia (UNG).  “We look forward to the potential to collaborate with NGHS and other local providers.”

Other local leaders are optimistic about other ways a new hospital could impact the community.

“I’ve driven and supported efforts to establish a new hospital in Lumpkin County and expand UNG’s healthcare programs on the Dahlonega campus, in large part because of the role healthcare plays in today’s economics,” says Senator Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega resident and former executive director of Lumpkin County’s Development Authority.  “We’ve all seen the growth and prosperity a new hospital and associated development can bring, and we look forward to working alongside NGHS to build a better future for our community.”

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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Update from the State Capital: Week 2

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By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

ATLANTA — This week began with a day off to reflect upon one of Georgia’s greatest, Martin Luther King Jr., whose ideals of peace and justice are woven into everything we do here at the Capitol. After our day of remembrance, we returned to the Gold Dome and hit the ground running with budget hearings.

Budget week started with Joint Senate and House Appropriations hearings, which included presentations from several state agencies as well as Governor Brian P. Kemp, on the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 and General Fiscal Year 2020 budgets. As Secretary of the Appropriations Committee, I am happy to say that the state’s budget continues to be in good shape, with the FY20 budget topping $27 billion for the first time. Below are some highlights for the two budgets.

Proposed Amended FY19 budget which totals around $26.9 billion:

  • $68.8 million for school security grants. This total amount will be appropriated at $30,000 per school statewide.
  • $491,300 in initial funding to support the Atlanta-region Transit Link Authority.
  • $69.3 million for transportation as a result of HB 170.
  • $35.7 million additional funding to the Forestland Protection Act grant for repayment to counties and local systems.

Proposed General FY20 budget which totals around $27.5 billion:

  • $34.8 million in total funds to the Department of Economic Development to increase economic development throughout the state and to bring additional businesses and jobs.
  • $33 million in additional lottery funds to provide a three percent increase in the award amount for HOPE scholarships.
  • $32.6 million appropriated to the Department of Transportation for additional resurfacing projects and capital projects.
  • $100 million in bond funds for the repair, replacement and renovation of bridges throughout the state.

The General FY20 budget addresses our state’s continuing commitment to economic growth. Governor Kemp has proposed $34.8 million in total funds to the Department of Economic Development to continue the economic expansion that Governor Deal so successfully cultivated.

The state’s growing need to address transportation infrastructure is accounted for in the Amended FY19 budget. An additional $69.3 million in projected revenues resulting from House Bill 170 – passed during the 2015 Legislation Session – will be added to the Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) budget.

I am very happy to see that a piece of legislation we passed a couple of years ago is still making positive impacts for GDOT. The General FY20 budget includes $100 million for roadway improvements, as well. I will utilize my role as Vice Chairman of the Transportation Committee to ensure that this investment in Georgia’s infrastructure does not go to waste.

Next week, standing committees will begin to hold meetings and legislation will continue to be introduced in the Senate. I will continue to work on legislation that addresses broadband expansion and will keep you updated as the pace picks up and this session gets busier. As we move forward over the next 36 legislative days, please do not hesitate to reach out with questions, concerns and feedback. It is always great to hear from my constituents, and our door is always open.

For a full breakdown of the Amended Fiscal Year 2019 budget – House Bill 30 – please follow this link: http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/Documents/2019_FiscalYear/AFY_2019_Govs_Rec_Bill.pdf

For a full breakdown of the General Fiscal Year 2020 budget – House Bill 31 – please follow this link:  http://www.house.ga.gov/budget/Documents/2020_FiscalYear/FY_2020_Govs_Rec_Bill.pdf

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov

 

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Sen. Gooch, Rep. Tanner will be waiting tables at Celebrity Waiter Breakfast fundraiser Friday

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Public service will take on a whole new meaning at the 10th annual Celebrity Waiter Breakfast Friday morning at Longhorn Steakhouse on Ga. 400.

State Senator Steve Gooch, State Rep Kevin Tanner, Sheriff Jeff Johnson and a host of county commissioners and school board members as well as members of the Dawson County High School Drama Department will serve breakfast with a smile starting at 7:30 a.m.

It’s all for a good cause. The event is a fundraiser to support Dawson County Family Connection in its work recruiting foster families, offering child sexual abuse prevention, training and bringing awareness to the community of the negative consequences of substance abuse and addiction has on families and children.

 

Tickets can be purchased at the event or in advance by calling 706-265-1981 or by email at rbliss@dawsonfamilyconnection.org.

Family Connection Coordinator Nancy Stites said, “We are a non-profit and this is our only fundraiser. The proceeds help to support the work that we do and to bring awareness to the organization.”

 

 

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. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. 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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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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Broadband Access Moving Forward

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By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

The Senate reconvened for legislative day five on Monday. Standing committees started meeting to adopt their rules in preparation for bill hearings starting next week. Several pieces of legislation were introduced this week and many more will be dropped as we progress through the session. In the next couple of weeks, I will be proposing legislation addressing the findings of the Joint Senate and House Study Committee on High Speed Broadband Communications Access for All Georgians.

The study committee held regional meetings around the state during the interim to hear from rural Georgians about the challenges and opportunities that exist with broadband access. After hearing from citizens and stakeholders, it is clear that broadband access is an issue that must be addressed across the entire state. Greater access to this resource has proven to increase quality of life and serve as an economic development tool.

The legislation I plan to propose is based on the committee’s recommendations and findings. As the legislation moves through the legislative process, I plan to meet with stakeholders, constituents and people around the state to ensure that any proposed legislation will benefit all Georgians.

For the full overview of the final report, please follow this link: http://www.senate.ga.gov/sro/Documents/StudyCommRpts/2016FinalReportBroadbandAccess.pdf

My work at the Capitol relies on your feedback, so please continue reaching out to discuss legislation with me. I am proud to serve over 200,000 constituents who reach out via email, phone calls and visits to provide feedback. My staff and I appreciate these efforts and want to reassure each and every one of you that every phone call, email or office visit is taken into consideration when casting my vote in the Senate chamber. Although we may not be able to respond immediately, your voices are heard. Please do not hesitate to call or email me at any time. I am in office to serve you!

Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

 

Finalizing Georgia’s Budget

Featured, Politics

Georgia Senate

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Contact:          Ines Owens, Acting Director
Ines.Owens@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028

Finalizing Georgia’s Budget

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

As the General Assembly marches closer to Sine Die, our constitutional duty of passing a balanced budget for Georgia’s government has become our biggest priority for the last few legislative days. The Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) general budget, House Bill 44, is near completion. The Senate and House both have their own versions and each is standing steadfast, so the $25 billion budget will now head to a Conference Committee that will work to come up with a compromise on a budget that is fiscally responsible.

There are a few allocations in HB 44 that I would be glad to see make it out of the Conference Committee. Among them are appropriations for our education system. Under the Senate version of HB 44, teachers across Georgia would get a two percent increase in their base salary and the Teachers Retirement System would receive an additional $223.5 million so it can be fully funded. Additionally, the Senate’s version would provide nearly $17 million to buy new school buses.

Currently, Georgia Public Broadcasting provides video streams of both the House of Representative and Senate chambers. Since the Senate wants to be as transparent as possible to all of Georgia’s citizens, there’s a $485,000 appropriation for the Senate Transparency Project, which would include video streaming of Senate proceedings and committee meetings.

There are also some line items that will directly benefit Senate District 51. The proposed budget would allocate $150,000 to the Young Farmers programs in Fannin County. Also, $1.1 million would be allocated to purchase equipment for a new convocation center and the renovation of Memorial Hall for the University of North Georgia in Dahlonega. The Senate FY18 budget recommendation also includes $100,000 in airport aid for the Blairsville Airport.

I’m proud that we are appropriating funds through conservative fiscal policies. If you have any questions about the budget or any legislation that is pending, please reach out to my office. As the pace picks up during our final two weeks, I will keep your input and interests in mind to ensure that legislation we pass will benefit you, your families and Georgia.

For the full version of HB 44 and details related to the Senate version, follow the link below:

http://www.senate.ga.gov/sbeo/en-US/AppropriationsDocuments.aspx

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

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2017 Budget Hearings Update

Politics

 

2017 Budget Hearings Update

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

The Senate reconvened for week two after a day off in observance of Martin Luther King Jr. Day. This week was dedicated to Senate and House Appropriation Committee’s budget hearings. Governor Nathan Deal and Georgia’s various agencies outline their policy and budget proposals to the committee members. We also heard from several state economists who presented a positive outlook of Georgia’s economy. They echoed the Governor’s remarks that our state remains number one in the nation for business growth. We are at near full employment and our Rainy Day fund now exceeds $2 billion.

On Tuesday, Governor Deal elaborated on the budget plan he introduced last week in his State of the State Address. Among the governor’s recommendations for the Fiscal Year 2018 (FY18) general budget is a $2 billion allocation for transportation funding. These funds will go towards improving and upgrading aging aspects of our transportation infrastructure, such as road repaving, road expansions and bridge repairs. These upgrades will ensure that our state’s roadways remain safe and easily traversable for all those who travel in or around our state.

Education has been and will remain a top priority for us this year. Our graduation rates are at an all-time high and our test scores are outpacing the national average. In order to keep up with the growing demands of our public education system, Governor Deal has recommended an additional $133.2 million for enrollment growth and training, as well as $240 million in bond packages to fund the construction of new schools and school equipment. The HOPE scholarship remains an important pathway to higher education for so many of Georgia’s students and the governor has recommended an additional $49.3 million in order to ensure that pathway remains open.

You can find Governor Deal’s proposed Fiscal Year 2017 amended budget and the Governor Deal’s proposed Fiscal Year 2018 general budget online at https://opb.georgia.gov/.

In the coming weeks, we will begin to hold committee meetings in order to individually evaluate legislation. Your feedback is important to my work on your behalf, so please continue reaching out to discuss legislation with me. I take every phone call, email or office visit into consideration when casting my vote in the Senate chamber. Please do not hesitate to call or email me at any time. I am in office to serve you!

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

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The Halfway Point

Featured, Politics

Georgia Senate

 

 

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Contact: Ines Owens, Acting Director
Ines.Owens@senate.ga.gov
404.656.0028

 

The Halfway Point

By: Sen. Steve Gooch (R – Dahlonega)

This week marked the halfway point of the 2017 legislative session and the end of week six here at the state Capitol. From committee meetings, to the many special guests we honored on the Senate floor, it has certainly been a busy week here, and the pace is sure to continue in the next 20 days.

This week I had the privilege of honoring two talented and smart young ladies from District 51, Taylor Burrell, Miss Apple Capitol, and Chandler Sherry, Miss Apple Capitol’s Outstanding Teen. These two women will represent our area in the Miss America and Miss America’s Outstanding Teen preliminary competitions. It was wonderful having them on the Senate floor and I am grateful for their willingness to representing our district with pride.

This week was full of important legislation, so I am going to give you a basic rundown of some of the bills we heard on the Senate Floor, all of which passed and will now travel to the House for consideration:

Senate Bill 2, “The FAST Act – Fairness, Accountability, Simplification, and Transparency – Empowering Our Small Businesses to Succeed” supports businesses, big and small and will reduce the regulatory burdens placed on Georgia’s small businesses. It aims to simplify the licensing processes and to eliminate nuisance taxes.

Senate Bill 3, the “Creating Opportunities Needed Now to Expand Credentialed Training Act”, would encourage high schools and industries to participate in credentialing programs that would allow high school students to earn certified industry credentials while still in school. Areas of focus under this bill include industries in the career, technical and agriculture education programs.

Senate Bill 45, or the “upskirting bill,” would make the observation, filming, video recording or photography under or through an individual’s clothing to view intimate body parts illegal in Georgia. This bill is needed to amend the current outdated law because of today’s technology saturated society. It’s good to see our privacy being protected and our laws being update to reflect changes in modern technology.

Senate Bill 89 would provide investments for railroads to help support transportation across the state. As our state becomes more populated and our economic opportunities expand, it’s important that our infrastructure needs follow as well. By increasing funding to railway, we ensure that our state’s infrastructure needs in freight rail are met for years to come. This bill is extremely important to my colleagues and me and will keep Georgia on the right track for economic success and prosperity.

As always, it is a pleasure to represent you in Atlanta. Your opinion means a lot to me and I hope you will reach out to my office if you have any questions, comments or concerns about pending legislation. Thank you!

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Sen. Steve Gooch serves as Majority Whip of the Senate Majority Caucus. He represents the 51st Senate District which includes Dawson, Fannin, Gilmer, Lumpkin, Union and White counties and portions of Forsyth and Pickens counties.  He may be reached at 404.656.9221 or via email at steve.gooch@senate.ga.gov.

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