Attorney for family of teen found dead in Dawson County jail begins investigation

News

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. –AJ Richman, the lawyer for the family of the man found dead in the Dawson County Detention Center on June 2 issued a statement today (June 18) regarding the death of 18-year-old Jonathan Sanford.

Richman said his law office has started its own investigation to determine whether jail personnel failures contributed to his death. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting a parallel investigation.

“Georgia’s sheriffs are responsible for every aspect of a detainee’s health and welfare,” said Richman. “Our local government needs to be transparent, and we are calling upon the sheriff to share with us how Jonathan died in their custody.”

Richman said in the 18 days since Sanford died, his parents have not been told what caused their son’s death, which prompted their own investigation.
Sanford’s father said earlier this week that Sheriff Jeff Johnson had not spoken to the family since their son’s death.

The family held a demonstration on the city square earlier this week and demanded Johnson’s resignation. Johnson has not returned our phone calls requesting his comment.

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

Angry family members and friends of Jonathan Sanford call for Sheriff Johnson’s resignation

Business, News
Jonathan Sanford

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Some 20-30 family and friends gathered at the roundabout Monday carrying signs and voicing their anger toward Sheriff Jeff Johnson following the death of Jonathan Sanford, 18, who died in the Dawson County Detention Center June 2, less than 24 hours after he was arrested for DUI and possession of marijuana.

Carrying signs that read “Justice for Jonathan?” “Was there a medical check?” “I want answers for my big brother” and “He was only 18. He could have lived.”

Sanford’s older sister, Cheyenne Sanford said, “We’re protesting my brother’s wrongful death. We do not want this to happen to any other family. I hold Sheriff Johnson responsible and every other officer who encountered him that night and did not do anything. This was the first time he had been arrested. It should have been a learning experience for him. Not a death sentence.”

She was particularly angry that Johnson had not personally contacted her family in the nearly two weeks since his arrest.

Sanford’s father Jerry Sanford told Fetch Your News he believes they placed his son in a holding cell and did not check on him even though Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Policy and Procedures requires inmates believed to be under the influence of drugs be “kept under close observation.”

Cheyenne Sanford said her brother’s death has devastated her family. “He leaves behind nephews and neices, little siblings that look up to him. He was their big brother and their hero.”

This is the second time in 14 months that an inmate died in the detention center. On April 10, 2019, 57-year-old Joseph Michael Bishop was found dead in his cell.

The incident is under investigation by the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The body was sent to the GBI Crime Lab and cause of death has not been confirmed.

Fetch Your News tried to reach Sheriff Johnson for his comment but he did not return our call.

Jonathan Sanford Jonathan Sanford

Jeff Johnson, Billy Thurmond win reelection, but voters reject transportation SPLOST

Politics

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — Sheriff Jeff Johnson won a second term without the need for a runoff Tuesday. Board of Commissioners Chairman Billy Thurmond also won a second term but political newcomer Renee Duren threw a real scare into the former Public Safety Director.

Johnson received 3,683 votes (53.92%) to Marcus Sewell 1,757 and Jeff Perry 1,390.

The race for county commission chair went down to the wire. Thurmond a longtime public servant with strong name recognition, survived by just over 200 votes. Thurmond’s total was 3,143 to Duren’s 2,907. The focus of Duren’s campaign was zoning issues and quality of life.

Emory Dooley won the race for District 4 county commissioner, defeating David Pressley by a count of 3,143 to 2,907.

Fed up with a dwindling job market, COVID-19 and the rising racial tensions in the U.S., Dawson County voters were in no mood to raise their own taxes. They voted “no” to the transportation special purpose local option sales tax (TSPLOST) 4.445 TO 3.467.

All races are unofficial until certified by the Secretary of State.

 

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

 

 

 

 

UPDATE: Deceased inmate has been identified

News

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. – The 18-year-old inmate found dead in his cell at the Dawson County Detention Center this morning (June 2) has been identified as Jonathan Sanford of Dawsonville.

The cause of death has not been confirmed at this time.

Sources tell Fetch Your News that Sanford  was arrested Monday on a charge of DUI and was found unresponsive at approximately 6:30 a.m. today. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting the investigation.

This is the second time in 14 months that an inmate died in the detention center. On April 10, 2019, 57-year-old Joseph Michael Bishop was found unresponsive in his cell.

Fetch Your News has reached out to Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson for comment.

Follow FYN for updates on this story.

Drugs recovered during Dawson County traffic stop

News

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — A traffic stop on April 23 led to the arrest of a Gainesville man on charges of DUI and possession of and the recovery of a small amount of marijuana and 38 grams of methamphetamine.

Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson reported that Sgt. Zach Smith conducted a traffic stop on a vehicle driven by Michael Vernon Allison of Gainesville for traffic violations including an improper functioning brake light and weaving over the road.

After further investigation and inquiry, Smith determined that Allison was operating his vehicle without valid insurance. Allison was also suspected of operating a vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant.

Georgia State Patrol responded to assist with the DUI investigation.

Allison was subsequently arrested and transported to the Dawson County Detention Center. A search of the violator’s vehicle incident to arrest revealed a small amount of suspected marijuana. Upon entrance into the facility and after being thoroughly searched, deputies’ recovered two baggies of suspected methamphetamine concealed in the offenders pants. The total weight of the methamphetamine is 38 grams.

 

Challengers attack sheriff’s budget, wasteful spending during debate

News

Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSON COUNTY, Ga. — Challengers Jeff Perry and Marcus Sewell wasted little time attacking what they perceive to be Sheriff Jeff Johnson’s poor budget management and wasteful spending during his first term in office when the Republican Party held the first candidate forum of the political season Monday.

In his first year in office, Johnson sued the Board of Commissioners who, he claimed, failed to provide an adequate budget for him to perform his duties adequately. The lawsuit, which cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars, failed.

Perry, a veteran parole officer with 30 years’ experience in law enforcement, did not take direct aim at Johnson, but clearly his remarks referred to the sheriff.

Jeff Perry

“When times are bad you have to look at how you can cut,” he said. “Sometimes you might be faced with furloughs, layoffs. You have to manage that and be able to handle that budget. The difference in my money and your money is I can blow my money. But if I’m dealing with taxpayer money, I have to be accountable. If we’re going to run on Republican ideology of less government, smaller government and less taxes, we’ve got to start with the intergovernmental agencies like the sheriff’s office and road department. We can’t keep raising funds.”

Sewell, is a Captain and Commander of Investigations in the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office said Dawson County taxpayers are not getting the level of service they deserve from the Sheriff’s Office.

He pointed out that the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office budget is only $5.8 million to serve 32,000 residents the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office budget is $9.8 million to serve a much smaller population. “That is a $3.4 million difference,” he said. “So where is that money going?

Johnson bristled at the comparison to Lumpkin County. “I’m not worried about Lumpkin County,” he said. “I’m worried about Dawson County. You are my priority.”

Sewell said he would cut spending by eliminating the purchasing manager and human resources position in the sheriff’s office. The Board of Commissioners has offered to provide those services to the sheriff at no cost but he has declined.

“Over the last three years, we have seen the sheriff spend a lot of money on things that do not benefit us,” Sewell said “I would take the money the sheriff spends on toys and put that into the deputies’ pockets.”

Perry said he would offer his deputies an educational incentive. “That gives you a better-trained and better-educated officer,” he said.

Asked about the most important challenges the sheriff’s office will face in the future, Perry said the growth in population and how to increase the number of patrol officers on the street.

“One thing I want to do is have an auxiliary police force made up of volunteers in the community,” he said. “We send you to training. You work side-by-side with the police officer or deputy and wear the same uniform. What that does is it puts more people on the street at no cost to taxpayers except for the training.”

He also suggested creating a promotion board within the sheriff’s office. “When you run a company and have somebody that has been working with you a long time and has worked hard suddenly you have a promotion come up and they have no chance because you brought in somebody from the outside. at’s going to affect morale. I would propose we have the promotion board fill those positions from within.”

Johnson a veteran of 30 years of law enforcement shrugged off the attacks, calling it “political rhetoric.”

Johnson declared his first three years in office a success. “It obvious we’ve achieved success,” he said. “After three years, we’re enjoying the best retention rate and best recruitment we have seen in years.”

Asked how the sheriff’s office would work together with other county entities like the Board of Commissioners, Johnson said. “Will there be friction? Sure there will be friction. But at the end of the day, we will continue to discuss. We will continue to provide facts and figures to show we have a county in need.”

In closing, Johnson said, “Obviously my opponents don’t have a record to run on. They haven’t been your sheriff. It’s been my honor and privilege to be your sheriff. I’m proud of what we have been able to achieve and accomplish.”

 

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

 

 

 

ABL Management: “Sheriff acted in bad faith”

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Sheriff Jeff Johnson’s refusal to pay ABL Management $52,060.88 for inmate food services forced Dawson County commissioners to pick up the tab or go to arbitration. During an executive session last week, the Board decided to pay up. The amount, however, will come out of sheriff’s budget.

According to a Demand for Arbitration filed by ABL Management, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson is more than 120 days past due on his payments to the company.

ABL claims Johnson “has acted in bad faith, has been stubbornly litigious and has caused (the vendor) unnecessary trouble and expense.”

The sheriff has said some of the invoices went missing. One county official questioned that. “I don’t know if I buy that. I know if I had missing invoices that totaled more than $52,000 I would have been all over that wanting to know where they are.”

The company sent Johnson a “final notice” more than a month ago. The Board of Commissioners received the Demand for Arbitration Nov. 5. The Board sets the Sheriff’s Office budget each year but the Sheriff’s Office has sole responsibility for operating within that budget.

 

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

 

 

Husband shoots, kills wife outside Dawson County fire station

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga – An unidentified woman was shot and killed outside Dawson County Fire Station No. 7 on Dawson Forest Road shortly after 7:30 Monday (July 29). The shooter was the woman’s husband, who immediately surrendered peacefully to unarmed firefighters.

In an evening press conference, Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson said two cars pulled into the parking lot of the fire station. The male suspect in the second car exited the vehicle and fired several shots into the victim’s car killing her. The couple’s children, ages 8 and 5 were in the victim’s car but were uninjured. They were transported to Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta for evaluation and are now in custody of the Department of Family and Children’s Service.

Both the victim and shooter are 44 years old. Neither is employed by Dawson County.

Dawson County Fire and Emergency Services Chief Danny Thompson said, the firefighters’ families were present at the time of the incident.

“One of our personnel did observe the shooting,” Thompson said. “The incident evolved so quickly and rapidly that the personnel wasn’t able to really take any measures to stop the threat once it occurred. Obviously firefighters are unarmed. He was there with his family. He had his wife and children also at the scene.”

Johnson said shortly before the shooting, the woman made a frantic call to 911.

GBI is assisting with the investigation the incident.

 

 

2020 Dawson County sheriff’s race beginning to take shape

News

Captain Marcus Sewell

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Two potential challengers for Dawson County Sheriff in 2020 have emerged. Jeff Perry, a veteran parole officer, officially tossed his hat into the ring last week and Capt. Marcus Sewell, Chief of the Investigations Division in Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, is expected to announce his campaign next week.

Perry ran against Johnson in the 2016 election and finished third in a four-candidate race. He, of course, hopes to do better this time around.

In making his announcement last week, Perry said, “I am running for Sheriff to serve the citizens of Dawson County because there is nothing more important to me than keeping our families safe, and bringing capable leadership to the top law enforcement position in the county.”

Jeff Perry

Sewell has not made an official announcement but there are campaign-style signs appearing on social media that indicate he soon will. He is a veteran law enforcement officer widely known in Dawson County. He is a graduate of Dawson County High School and served as a deputy for longtime Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle.

Johnson has had a troubled first term as sheriff. In his first year he sued the Board of Commissioners in an effort to get more money for his 2018 budget. He lost the lawsuit and alienated county commissioners and other county officials in the process. Most of them have said privately they want to see Johnson defeated.

Commissioners have also been angered by Johnson’s insistence on hiring someone to handle sheriff’s office finances, a service the county could provide at no additional cost to taxpayers.

The new candidates are almost certain to attack Johnson on his wasteful spending. The unsuccessful lawsuit cost taxpayers tens of thousands of dollars. Embarrassingly, Johnson learned at the end of that budget year, he had nearly $500,000 remaining that he failed to spend. That money could have been used to give deputies a well-deserved pay raise. Instead, it went back into the county’s general fund.

Johnson has also attracted a great deal of negative publicity for personnel issues within the sheriff’s office. For example, in 2018 three detention officers were arrested – two for domestic violence issues and another for unlawful sexual relationship with a female prisoner. That same year, an entire night patrol of on-duty officers was discovered playing badminton and leaving the county unprotected. And, in May 2019, a computer aided dispatch report showed that one sergeant refused to report to the scene of an accident for more than six hours.

The election is still a year away, but the campaign is right around the corner.

 

 

 

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

 

Sheriff, attorney threaten reporter, demand retraction

News
Sheriff Jeff Johnson

Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — In complete disregard of the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and in an effort to silence a news reporter, Sheriff Jeff Johnson and his attorney have demanded retraction of an editorial published by Fetch Your News last month regarding a deputy’s refusal to report to a single-vehicle accident on Nimblewill Gap for more than six hours.

 

On June 18, 2019, Joey Homans wrote: “I have been retained by Sheriff Jeff Johnson and Sgt. Larry Busher as a result of the libelous article you published on June 14, 2019 at dawson.fetchyournews.com. Your effort to camouflage and cover your malicious, hateful and libelous obloquy by posting under the “opinion” designation fails.”

 

Joey Homans

Joey Homans

Homans is the former Dawson County Attorney. The Board of Commissioners declined to renew his contract in 2017. He subsequently sued the Board of Commissioners on behalf of Sheriff Johnson in a failed lawsuit that cost taxpayers thousands of dollars.

He concludes his attack on this reporter by stating: “Your article lacks actual, unvarnished truth and was published solely to damage Sheriff Johnson and Sgt. Busher. Therefore, on their behalf, I hereby demand that your June 14 publication be retracted within five (5) days of the date of this letter, that the retraction be clearly stated as such, that the retraction be published in the same manner that the libelous article was published and that no further publication or dissemination of the false statements set forth within your article occur.”

It has been three weeks since the threat was received and there has been no retraction. There will be no retraction. Not in five days, five weeks, five months or five years. What has failed is Sheriff Johnson’s attempt to ignore the First Amendment and frighten this reporter into writing a retraction.

Fetch Your News will have additional articles that focus on the Nimblewill fiasco, including Johnson’s false claim that the accident did not occur in Dawson County. Gilmer County officials are not pleased that Johnson attempted to scapegoat Gilmer County to cover up his sergeant’s failure to respond.

 

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

 

 

 

County Commission begins new meeting schedule Thursday

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – The Dawsonville Board of Commissioners will begin its new meeting schedule Thursday with a work session set to begin at 4 p.m., followed immediately thereafter by an executive session and then a 6 p.m. voting session.

WORK SESSION

During the work session, commissioners will hear a request from Sheriff Jeff Johnson to retire the Sheriff’s Office K9 Kimbo and transfer ownership to the dog’s handler, Lt. Jessica Kraft. Dr. Katie Ferris of the Chestatee Animal Hospital has recommended Kimbo’s retirement for medical reasons.

Public Works Director David McKee will ask for Board approval to retain an on-call, full-depth reclamation service. An invitation to bid (IFB) was released with a sample job at Hightower Parkway at SR53 to the end of the pavement. The lowest, most responsive bid was submitted by ShepCo Paving, Inc. in the amount of $203,500. The pricing received for this sample project will be set for the life of the contract per job at $6.25 per square yard for 10” cement reclaimed base; $152 a ton for Portland Cement; $6 per square yard for haul-off excess material, if required.

Parks and Recreation Director Matt Payne, will present a proposed agreement with the Rotary Club of Dawson County to provide the county with a venue that would house outdoor pickleball courts, batting cages, and an outdoor basketball area at Rock Creek Park.

Payne will also ask commissioners to approve a Dawson County Employee Night at the county swimming pool on May 17. The Parks and Recreation Department has hired lifeguards and pool attendants for the 2019 summer season. To provide a great time for Dawson County employees and families, plus use the night as a training night for our lifeguards and pool workers.

County Chief Financial Officer Vickie Neikirk will give a financial status report for the first quarter 2019.

VOTING SESSION

During the voting session, commissioners will hold public hearings on an alcohol license for Olive Garden Holdings, LLC and updates to the county’s Land Use Resolution.

 Commissioners are expected to vote on a contract with CT Darnell Construction for design-build services for Fire Station 9 for an amount not to exceed $1,736,271 and approve the transfer of funds in the amount of $736,271 to this project.

 A services agreement with Dawson County Humane Society for Treatment and Housing of Animals will also be up for a vote. This agreement memorializes the county’s funding obligation and the Humane Society’s duty to provide housing and medical care services for impounded dogs and cats. The agreement does not obligate the County in 2019 for any money that has not already been budgeted.

The Board will also consider addendum No. 3 to the FY 2019 Legacy Link Contract for Nutrition Program Services. The addendum includes an additional $5,284 from Nutrition Service Incentive Program funding (NSIP State) to be used by year end.

Commissioners must also decide on increased funding for legal fees in 2019. In December 2018, the Board made the decision to utilize outside firm of Jarrard & Davis for legal services after the retirement of in-house attorney. There was $160,413 approved for the County Attorney budget for 2019. Those funds have already been used to pay for legal fees in 2019.

Because of increased need for legal services, as well as costs for clearing up outstanding issues, the county has exceeded the funding available to pay future invoices. Current amount left in the County Attorney budget for 2019 is $19,284. Estimated costs for remainder of 2019 (April – December) will be at least $250,000.

 

 

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

 

 

GBI investigates death of Dawson County Detention Center inmate

News

Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — The Georgia Bureau of Investigation is conducting an investigation into the death of an inmate at the Dawson County Detention Center Monday (April 8).

Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson confirmed via email that Joseph Michael Bishop, 57, of Dawsonville was found unresponsive in his cell at approximately 11:.47 a.m. “Deputies and Emergency Medical Personnel provided first aid, however the resuscitation attempt was unsuccessful,” Johnson said.

GBI Office of Public Affairs Director Nelly Miles said an autopsy has been completed and is pending additional tests.

Fetch Your News will have more details when they become available.

 

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

 

 

Commissioners to vote on beefed up school security

News

CUMMING, Ga. — The shooting rampage at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Florida that killed 17 students and faculty, followed by threats of violence at schools in Dawson, Hall, Gwinnett, White and other Georgia counties this year, has heightened awareness that more needs to be done to protect schools and school children in Dawson County.

The Dawson County Commissioners will consider a request to beef up the county’s school resource officer (SRO) staff during Thursday’s meeting. In order to better utilize the current SRO staff, Sheriff Jeff Johnson has requested funds to provide off-duty payment to cover the costs associated with traffic direction responsibilities.

Currently, the SROs must vacate their primary duties of securing schools to handle traffic direction and control. Johnson says staffing levels do not allow for this function to be handled by the Patrol Component.

School Superintendent Dr. Damon Gibbs has indicated that the Board of Education will support two additional SRO positions as well as share the cost of traffic control. Johnson believes three positions are needed to allow for each school to have an assigned SRO as well as provide a level of relief for officer’s absences due to illness, family emergencies, court subpoena, etc.

Commissioners also will hear a request by Richmond Honan Development and Acquisitions, LLC to amend an existing Commercial Planned Comprehensive Development (CPCD) on 52.42 acres to allow for a mixed-use senior living campus-style development.

Commissioners also will consider:

⦁ Amendments to the 2017 Capital Improvement Element;

⦁ A Sheriff’s Office application for a parade permit for a motorcycle Ride for Relay for Life;

⦁ A request to upgrade the Magistrate Court clerk’s position from part-time to full-time;

⦁ A request to increase the salary for a Magistrate Court clerk who has received Georgia Information Crime Center certification;

⦁ A request to purchase emergency medical supplies for Emergency Management Services;

⦁ A request to apply for the FY 2018 Homeland Security Grant Program for Emergency Services K-9 Search and Rescue Team;

⦁ A request to write off old debts for ambulance billing;

⦁ Board appointments to the Tax Assessors Board and Tree Preservation Committee; and

⦁ Annexation requests by residents of the Gold Creek subdivision.

 

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

Sheriff had nearly $400,000 left in his 2017 budget when he sued the Board of Commissioners

News

Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – Dawson County officials say they do not understand why Sheriff Jeff Johnson sued the Board of Commissioners for a bigger slice of the 2018 budget when he had nearly $400,000 left in the 2017 budget he failed to spend.

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines said, “He actually had about $500,000 left in the budget while we were going through the court hearing. But he reimbursed his staff for accrued leave that was left unpaid at the end of 2016.”

Johnson sued the county in Superior Court, claiming the Board of Commissioners abused their discretion by not providing enough funding for him to adequately perform his responsibilities as sheriff in 2018.

Senior Superior Court Judge Fred A. Bishop ruled in favor of the county, stating, “(Commissioners) exercised their discretion in a reasonable fashion. They have honored their obligation to do so giving all due consideration to the needs of the sheriff and to the entire fiscal picture of Dawson County and its citizens, of which the sheriff’s duties are a key part – but not the only part.”

Commissioner Chris Gaines

An end-of-year financial report obtained from Finance Director Vickie Neikirk Friday showed Johnson had $397,319.58 remaining on Dec. 31. That is more than enough to pay for the new computer aided dispatch (CAD) system the sheriff wanted and to pay his staff for their accrued leave time, which went unpaid for nearly two years. Under the county’s financial protocol, that money must not be returned to the county’s General Fund.

District 2 Commissioner Chris Gaines is one commissioner who said the lawsuit – which cost taxpayers about $20,000 in legal fees – made no sense.

Gaines said he does not know if Johnson was aware he had close to $400,000 left in his 2017 budget. However, he questioned why the sheriff needed more money when he did not spend the money he had.

“My goal is for each department to know what their budget is and use it to provide the best service to citizens they can,” he said.

 

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

Sheriff vs. Dawson County heads to courtroom

News

Sheriff Jeff Johnson

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A bitter dispute between Dawson County’s first-term Sheriff Jeff Johnson and the Dawson County Board of Commissioners will finally move into Senior Superior Court Judge Fred A. Bishop’s courtroom tomorrow (Jan. 30).

On Dec. 18, Bishop ordered county commissioners to appear before him to show cause why Johnson’s petition for mandamus “should not be issued as requested and such other relief be granted as the facts of the case may warrant.”

Johnson claims the $8,273,080 budget approved by the commissioners for 2018 is inadequate for him to perform the duties of his office. He has requested his budget be set at $8,961,406.

County Manager David Headley

Commissioners counter that Johnson is wasting taxpayer dollars by not using the county’s Purchasing Department or following the county’s established purchasing policies. They say the 2018 budget they approved represents a one-year increase of close to $1 million and is the largest increase awarded to any county office.

In fact, figures released by the county show that the sheriff’s budget has increased by $2.3 million since 2014. County Manager David Headley said the sheriff’s budget grew by $525,381 in 2015, $348,648 in 2016, $457,632 in 2017 and $985,277 in 2018.

Moreover, a Georgia Department of Community Affairs survey reveals Dawson County citizens pay more per capita to operate the sheriff’s office and jail than any other county in north Georgia. The survey of 26 counties shows Dawson County citizens pay $273 each.

Headley said the county has repeatedly reached out to the sheriff to offer assistance in matters such as human resources, finance and purchasing, and grants and maintenance.

“We have a well-trained staff and policies in place, which can help with compliance with the law and doing things in the most efficient and economical way,” Headley said. “Our offers have frequently been ignored or declined.”

Tuesday’s hearing is set for  9:30 a.m.

 

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

Commissioners will consider additional school resource officer funding

News

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — Increased safety for schools and school children will be on the agenda when the Dawson County Board of Commissioners meets in a Thursday work session starting at 4 p.m.

Dawson County Sheriff Jeff Johnson is expected to request additional funding for three additional school resource officers (SROs). Currently, SROs also must vacate their primary responsibilities to handle traffic direction responsibilities. Johnson says current staffing levels do not allow for this function to be the patrol component.

School Superintendent Dr. Damon Gibbs indicated at a recent school safety meeting, the Board of Education will support two additional SRO positions and share the cost of traffic control.

Johnson will also seek a parade permit to allow for its first Sheriff’s Office Ride for Relay event to benefit Relay for Life. If approved, the 51-motorcycle ride event will be held on Saturday, April 14, from 9 a.m. until noon. It would begin and end at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

Planning and Development Director Jason Streetman will provide the annul amended update to the 2017 Capital Improvements Element as part of the county’s consideration of an impact fee program.

Commissioners will also consider:

⦁ An upgrade of the part-time Magistrate Court clerk position to full-time;

⦁ A salary increase request for the Magistrate Court clerk earning Georgia Information Crime Center Certification;

⦁ A presentation of fiscal year 2018 Homeland Security Grant Program Application for Emergency Services’ K9 Search & Rescue Team;

⦁ A presentation of a resolution for Senior Center 2018 Community Development Block Grant;

⦁ A presentation of a request to write off an old debt for ambulance billing;

⦁ A presentation of a proposed revised alcohol ordinance; and

⦁ Nominations for appointment to the Tax Assessors board and Tree Preservation committee.

 

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

Back to Top

Do NOT follow this link or you will be banned from the site!