County Commission begins new meeting schedule Thursday

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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

 

 

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GBI investigates death of Dawson County Detention Center inmate

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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

 

 

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Former Dawson County jailer is behind bars

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – One day after Fetch Your News published an article alleging that a former Dawson County Sheriff’s Office detention officer carried on a romantic relationship with a female prisoner, Luciano Pablo Betancourt was arrested and charged with violation of his oath of office.

Betancourt, who resigned in lieu of termination on Aug. 14, has been placed in the same Dawson County Detention Center where he once guarded prisoners. He could face up to five years behind bars.

In an exclusive interview with Fetch Your News, April Finnegan, 31, said last week that during her incarceration in the detention center, Betancourt “kissed her, put his hand inside her shirt and asked her to send him nude photos of herself.”

Finnegan, who was serving a three-month sentence on probation violation and drug possession was released on July 3. She said she did not report the incident because she had become attracted to the guard.

“I’m not trying to get him into trouble, even now,” she told Fetch Your News. “Everybody in my dorm could tell. Everybody knew what was going on. One of the girls in my dorm even asked him jokingly, ‘Hey Betancourt can you two get married while she’s incarcerated.’”

Georgia law doesn’t take into account whether sex acts between a prison guard and an inmate are consensual, because guards have inherent authority over prisoners. Congress in 2003 passed the Prison Rape Elimination Act, which calls for corrections systems to have a zero-tolerance policy on prison rape.

Sheriff Jeff Johnson told the local newspaper Tuesday that Betancourt’s arrest follows an internal affairs investigation. But Finnegan said she was never questioned by anyone from internal affairs.

According to his personnel file, Betancourt received a written reprimand in July 2017 for another policy violation. The policy states: “Employees shall not fraternize with or engage the personal services of any person in custody; shall not become socially or emotionally involved with prisoners; shall not borrow money or any type of property; or shall not lend money or any property to any person in custody.”

The reprimand states, “Officer Betancourt had spent time with 2 females in (cell) E-4 every shift he had worked between the dates of June 29 and July15. Betancourt would stop and spend two minutes talking with the 2 females, had the females out cleaning the showers in their whites (shirt and underwear) and remained in the pod while they were off camera in the shower. Betancourt remained at the table nearest the shower where he had full visual contact with the inmates. Thus far, there has been no allegation made by the inmates and Betancourt expresses he does understand the potential for accusations from these behaviors.”

 

 

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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Dawson County Jr. High student charged with making terroristic threats

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Dr. Damon Gibbs

DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – An unidentified 15-year-old student at Dawson County Junior High School was taken into custody Friday (Aug. 10) morning, charged with making terroristic threats and one count of transmitting a public alarm.

Dawson County School System Superintendent Dr. Damon Gibbs said via email today the threat was reported Thursday afternoon and the student was immediately removed from the school

Following an investigation by the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office the student was arrested.

Gibbs issued the following statement, “The Dawson County School System takes all threats seriously and, as always, the safety of our students is our top priority. I want to thank Sheriff (Jeff) Johnson and his staff for acting quickly and handling the situation professionally. The school system will deal with the student per the Code of Conduct to ensure the ongoing safety of our student body.”

Fetch Your News will have more information as this story develops.

 

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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Dawson County to hold departmental budget hearings next two weeks

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. – A process that often goes unnoticed by the public, but which plays a key role in how tax dollars get spent will play out over the next two weeks when Dawson County’s department heads appear before the Board of Commissioners to request funding for their departments.

The hearings begin Monday and will be held Monday through Thursday for the next two weeks in the Dawson County Administration Building starting at 9 a.m.

The process can be tedious and, at times contentious, as department heads defend their requests and commissioners attempt to ensure the county provides the services citizens pay for at a price they can afford. Every dollar is questioned and must be justified to survive the process.

The first to come under Board of Commissioners’ scrutiny Monday will be the Superior and Drug Court, followed at half-hour to 45-minute intervals by Tax Commissioner, Development Authority and Finance.

On Tuesday,  commissioners will hear budget requests from the Public Defender, Elections Superintendent, Extension Service, Probate Judge and Public Works/Transfer Station.

Magistrate Court, Family Connection, Good Shepherd Clinic and Sheriff’s Office will bring their spending plans to commissioners on Wednesday.

The Sheriff’s Office budget is expected to get very close scrutiny. Sheriff Jeff Johnson sued the county last year when commissioners approved a $900,000 increase in the previous year’s budget. But Johnson maintained it wasn’t enough so he went to court.

The sheriff lost the lawsuit and the good will of the commissioners in the process. Commissioners believe the sheriff wastes too much money by not utilizing the county’s Purchasing Department more and by not submitting purchases to a competitive bidding process.

Week one closes out with budget requests from the coroner, facilities department, IT, clerk of court/board of equalization, and county manager/county government.

 

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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Commissioners approve 52-acre senior-living campus-style development

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DAWSONVILLE, Ga. — A major mixed-use, senior-living campus-style development at Hwy. 400 and Castleberry Road moved one step closer to reality Thursday when the Dawson County Board of Commissioners agreed to amend the existing zoning of the 52.42-acre site from Commercial Planned Comprehensive Development.

The request was made by Richmond Honan Development and Acquisitions, LLC. The county Planning Commission recommended approval.

Plans for the development include 130,000 square feet of medical/office space, 31,500 square feet of retail, 141,000 square feet of assisted living space and 70,000 square feet for a 128-room hotel. Stipulations approved by commissioners include a maximum of 200 independent living units, 40 loft dwelling units above the retail space and 60 senior-living duplexes.

County commissioners approved a request by the Sheriff’s Office for two additional school resource officers (SRO) and additional funding for off-duty officers to handle traffic control at the schools for July 1 through Dec. 31.

The board also granted Sheriff Jeff Johnson’s request for a permit to hold a 51-mile motorcycle ride for Relay for Live April 14 from 9 a.m. until noon. The event will begin and end at Dawsonville’s Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

Following a public hearing, the board voted 4-0 to approve a draft Capital Improvements Element as part of the county’s consideration of an impact fee program.

Under new business, the board also approved:

⦁ A request to upgrade a part-time clerk position in the Magistrate Court to full time;

⦁ An increase in pay for a clerk in the Magistrate Court who has achieved Georgia Information Crime Center Certification;

⦁ An annual salary increase of $5,000 for the county attorney;

⦁ The purchase of emergency medical supplies for Emergency Services;

⦁ Ratification of FY 2018 Homeland Security Grant Program application in the amount of $14,400 with no county match required;

⦁ Writing off old debt for ambulance service deemed uncollectable;

⦁ The appointment of Jo Ann Overstreet Hause to the Tax Assessor Board; and

⦁ The appointment of George Lyons, Bob Speight and Judy Baer to the Tree Preservation Committee. Commissioners took no action on five requests from residents of Gold Creek to be annexed into the city of Dawsonville.

Chairman Billy Thurmond read a proclamation declaring April National Donate Life Month that was adopted unanimously by the board. LifeLink is Georgia’s non-profit organ and tissue recovery organization. More than 5,000 people in Georgia are awaiting a transplant. One donor can save 75 lives. Each day, 22 people die because an organ does not become available. To sign up for organ or tissue donation, visit www.donatelifegeorgia.org.

 

 

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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Commissioners to vote on beefed up school security

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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

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Commissioners will consider additional school resource officer funding

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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

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