LC BOE announces called meeting to allow public to

Lumpkin County High School, News

LUMPKIN, CO.,

The Lumpkin County Board of Education announced a called meeting for Monday, March 25 at 6:30PM.

Lumpkin County School System announced on social media on Friday, March 22 that the purpose of the meeting is to allow Lumpkin residents to express their concerns regarding the recent resignation of Lumpkin County High School principal, Billy Kirk, “Individuals wishing to address the board can get a ‘Public Comment Sign-In’ form from the LCSS after 8AM on Monday, [March 25].” They further explain that “Completed forms should be given to the board secretary prior to the start of the meeting. Each speaker will be allotted three minutes.

When asked what made the LC BOE decide to hold a called meeting, LCSS Superintendent, Dr. Rob Brown, told FYN, “The board wants to give the community an opportunity to share their input on our current issues.”

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UNG men’s tennis team claims Peach Belt win

Sports

DAHLONEGA, GA

According to the University of North Georgia Athletics Department, the UNG men’s tennis team claimed a big Peach Belt Conference win Thursday, as they took out No. 13 Georgia College. The Conference was held at the UNG Tennis Complex, located at Yahoola Creek. The win bumped UNG 7-1 on the season, and 2-0 in league play.

During the doubles tournaments, the Nighthawks won the No. 3 and No. 2 spots. Singles was more challenging, as the Bobcats came out fighting, resulting in a 2-1 loss for UNG. The Nighthawks will travel to Orlando for a four-game road trip.

 

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Four UNG students named Critical Language Scholarship finalists

Community, News

DAHLONEGA, GA

When University of North Georgia (UNG) freshman Daniel Shearer first learned he was a semifinalist for the Critical Language Scholarship (CLS), he was reluctant to celebrate. The member of UNG’s Corps of Cadets was excited, but he wasn’t a finalist — until now. “I feel very fortunate to have won,” he said. “I honestly didn’t have high expectations, but I am glad.”

Shearer and three other UNG students were glad to learn March 1 that they were selected as CLS finalists. The scholarship program is a fully-funded overseas language and cultural immersion program for American undergraduate and graduate students. Its goal is to broaden the base of Americans studying and mastering critical languages and building relationships between the people of the United States and other countries.

Out of UNG’s eight semifinalists announced in January, the four finalists are:

  • Shearer, who is pursuing a degree in East Asian studies with a concentration in Japanese studies and a minor in leadership, will be in Japan.
  • Josh Shepherd, who is pursuing a degree in Chinese and a minor in Spanish, will be in China.
  • Donnie “Jamar” Shumaker, who is pursuing a degree in East Asian studies with a concentration in Chinese and a minor in Chinese language and culture, will be in China.
  • Rachel Wilson, who is pursuing a degree in finance and a minor in Chinese, will be in China.

Of the remaining semifinalists, all four were named alternates. They are:

  • Daniel Barker, who is pursuing a degree in mathematics and a minor in Russian.
  • Hannah Chisholm, who is pursuing a degree in communications with a concentration in multimedia journalism and a minor in Korean.
  • Leah James, a member of the Corps of Cadets who is pursuing a degree in nursing and a minor in Arabic.
  • Julia “Rhiannon” Smith, who is pursuing degrees in psychology and modern languages with a concentration in Russian.

Sponsored by the U.S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs, CLS is highly competitive, with acceptance rates of 10 percent, said Dr. Victoria Hightower, UNG’s assistant director of Nationally Competitive Scholarships. This makes UNG’s accomplishment of four finalists and four alternates significant.

“UNG’s four finalists and four alternates reflect our commitment to cultivating academically talented global leaders,” Dr. Anastasia Lin, assistant vice president for research and engagement at UNG. “This also indicates UNG’s prowess in teaching critical languages.”

Hightower, associate professor of history, agreed.

“In addition to our students’ qualities of determination, perseverance, and persistence, this success also reflects the encouragement they receive from their mentors throughout the university,” she said.

The four finalists and four alternates also mark an increase in UNG students selected. Last year, three were selected as finalists, and two were alternates. UNG had one finalist and one semifinalist for both 2016-17 and 2015-16 academic years.

Lin said more students are encouraged to apply to scholarships such as CLS after hearing of previous winners.

“I predict we will see more applications and winners in the future because of a growing commitment to scholarships on both the part of our students, faculty and staff,” she said.

Shearer, a freshman from Suwanee, Georgia, plans to use the study abroad experience as a springboard for his future.

“I intend to commission through UNG, and as I am pursuing a degree in East Asian studies, I would love to have a duty station over there,” he said, adding the CLS program will give him an advantage. “Through this scholarship, I will have a greater fluency in Japanese through immersion in the culture that comes through living and working there.”

Students interested in learning more about nationally competitive scholarships should contact ncs@ung.edu for more information. Students wanting to learn about funding and programs to study abroad may visit the Center for Global Engagement website.

 

Arrests are made after motor-vehicle pursuit

Business

LUMPKIN CO., GA

According to a press release from the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, LC deputies were involved in a motor vehicle pursuit, starting in Lumpkin County and ending in Hall County.

The pursuit occurred after an LC deputy attempted to perform a traffic stop on a 2002 Jeep Grand Cherokee that contained four occupants, for defective equipment. The Cherokee failed to stop after the deputy initiated their emergency equipment, and the occupants appeared to be trying to hide items within the interior of the vehicle.

The pursuit ended in Hall County on the block of 5800 Cool Springs Road after the driver lost control of the Jeep Grand Cherokee, leaving the roadway and striking a wooden fence. The occupants all fled on foot, but Hall County deputies apprehended two of the suspects. A Lumpkin County Deputy, along with his K-9, caught the other two suspects, after engaging in foot pursuit.

The suspects arrested were Samantha Woody, Brandon Flanagan, Herman Dover, John Rodgers II. They have been charged with Possession of Methamphetamine, Possession of Marijuana, Possession of Drug Related Objects. The driver, Samantha Woody, was also charged with traffic violations.

LCSO released a statement of gratitude for help in apprehending the suspects, “The Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office would like to thank Hall County and the Georgia State Patrol, for their assistance in the pursuit and capture.”

 

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LC BOE votes against reinstating LCHS principal Billy Kirk

Featured, Lumpkin County High School

LUMPKIN CO.,

The Lumpkin County School System held a special called meeting on Monday morning at 7AM to discuss personnel recommendations, in response to the public backlash over the recent resignation of LCHS principal, Billy Kirk.

The meeting began with a motion to go into executive session, but no other board members second that motion. BOE member, Craig Poore, addressed the sizeable public crowd stating he refused to enter an executive session, “What happened down there [the walk-in at LCHS] was unprofessional, and I am embarrassed by what we did down there. I am not going into an executive session, and I will not sit there and talk about this, where you bow my hands and I can’t speak no more on it.” Poore then went on to explain, “I think the level of unprofessionalism is awful; we ought to be ashamed of ourselves.”

Before adjourning, LCSS Superintendent, Dr. Robert Brown, then presented personnel recommendations to the board, “I have a recommendation for the board to rescind the resignation submitted from Mr. Billy Kirk on March 11, and to recommend him for employment as the principal of LCHS for the 2019/2020 school year.”

After Brown’s recommendation was made, Poore requested to speak his opinion on the walk-in once more, explaining that he would have been more open to considering rescinding Kirk’s resignation if he had not, “gone up there [LCHS]… using and abusing those kids in that building [referring to the walk-in]…” Poore’s comments received a strong reaction from the crowd, as citizens expressed their disagreements. One citizen yelled out, “You’re wrong,” and another asked Poore to “step down” from his BOE position.

Poore further explained his dissatisfaction with Kirk’s decision to allow the students participate in the walk-out without any disciplinary action, “I received 12 phone calls alone from parents that said they didn’t want their child participating in that event [the walk-in].” One LCHS student who was in attendance then responded with, “They didn’t have to,” in which Poore responded, “They may not have had to, but you know what? They were children.” Although students are protected by the First Amendment to the right to free speech, according to the American Civil Liberties Union, (ACLU) schools do have the right to discipline students for participating in a walk-out, “The law in most places requires students to go to school, schools can discipline you for missing class. But what they can’t do is discipline you more harshly because of the political nature of or the message behind your action.”   

Self then presented Brown’s recommendation to the board, with McClure making a motion to approve it. However, no other board members seconded the motion, resulting in the denial of reinstating Kirk as the LCHS principal. Lumpkin County citizen, John Dowdy, expressed his anger with the board’s decision, “You can say no public comment if you want to, but if we aren’t going to get a second on this, [recommendation] all five of you [BOE members] will answer to us [the public] for what you’ve done.”

LC resident, John Dowdy, [far left] expresses his disappointment in the board’s decision regarding LCHS principal, Billy Kirk

Another angry resident, Leigh Ann Linn, told the board, “Richard Woods will receive an email. He’ll receive lots of emails, and the board will be investigated. We are not letting this go.” Linn also told FYN, “It is apparent by today’s meeting that there is a personal agenda from some board members against [Billy] Kirk. Craig Poore made completely false accusations against Kirk. He obviously controls the board and did not hesitate to let us know that if we didn’t like it, we could do something about it in four years. A good man, and family, is being attacked without just cause.” Linn also stated that the fight for Kirk was “far from over.”

Brown released a statement to FYN, regarding the results of the board meeting, “I am very disappointed with the circumstances of today’s called school board meeting. I hope that our school board can work together to get this issue resolved and to ensure our school system continues accomplishing great things. We have seen many successes in recent years, and it is my hope that can get through this conflict and get back on track as soon as possible.”

Poore summed up his statements by telling the crowd that he does not have any regrets, “Four years from now…I’m going to leave here and my conscious is going to be clear.”

The public will be allowed to imput regarding Kirk during the next board meeting, which is scheduled for April 15, at 7PM and will be held at the LCSS Central Office in Dahlonega.

 

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LCHS students hold a peaceful walk-in to show support for the principal

Feature News, News

LUMPKIN CO., GA

Several students at Lumpkin County High School held a peaceful walk-in on Wednesday, to show their support for the LCHS principal, Billy Kirk.

Students at LCHS give cheer on orator in support of principal

The Lumpkin County Board of Education announced to employees on Monday, March 11, that Kirk had resigned without revealing the cause of his resignation. Once this news went public, LCHS students, parents, and staff began sending emails, letters, and phone calls to the Board of Education advocating for Kirk to be reinstated. Other Lumpkin County residents have even begun a petition titled, “Prevent Principal Billy Kirk From Leaving,” which has collected almost 400 signatures in the few hours since it has gone live.

Students at LCHS give cheer on orator in support of principal

Students at LCHS decided to hold a peaceful walk-out to show their support for Kirk. LCHS officials required that students host a walk-in, held in the LCHS gym, for the safety of the students. According to LCSS Chief Financial Officer, Shannon Christian, “We are allowing the students to hold a peaceful protest in the gym, but it is the desire of the principal for no press to be in attendance.” Although all press was denied access to the event, Fetch Your News was able to obtain a video and images of the event.

There were a number of students who spoke out, in support of Kirk, and the crowd erupted when one orator stated, “There are a lot of people at this school who look up to Mr. Kirk as a father figure.”

Lumpkin County Sheriff, Stacy Jarrard, stationed himself outside the LCHS entrance to further ensure the safety of any student that may have decided against going to the gym. Jarrard also told the press, “Let it go on the record that it is not the decision of LCSO to deny media access to this event.”

 

NGHS opening new emergency room and building new hospital in Lumpkin County

Community, Featured

LUMPKIN CO., GA

Northeast Georgia Health System announced in February that they were opening an emergency room in Lumpkin County, in the facility that was formerly Chestatee Regional Hospital. The new facility will open July 1, 2019 and will offer emergency services, as well as some inpatient beds, imaging equipment and other services; however, the emergency room will be open temporarily. NGHS is also currently developing plans for a new hospital facility that will be located along GA-400, near the intersection with Hwy 60. It is expected to be designed in the same fashion as the NGHS Braselton hospital, and will be called Northeast Georgia Medical Center Lumpkin, or NGMC Lumpkin for short.

Offering services at the existing hospital site will preserve the Certificate of Need authority to operate a hospital in Lumpkin County, while also meeting the healthcare needs of Lumpkin and surrounding counties. The anticipated open date for the new hospital is 2022, and it will provide emergency services, inpatient medical/surgical care, imaging services and a focus on outpatient surgery.

NGHS President and CEO, Carol Burrell, expressed her excitement over the upcoming changes, “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.”

NGHS currently leases the former Chestatee Regional Hospital property from The University System of Georgia Board of Regents, so once NGMC Lumpkin is in full operation, the University of North Georgia (UNG) will utilize the former Chestatee Regional Hospital facility for their highly competitive nursing program, as well as other educational purposes. “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.” Dahlonega resident and former executive director of Lumpkin County’s Development Authority. According to Dahlonega resident, former executive director of Lumpkin County’s Development Authority, and former Georgia Senator, Steve Gooch, “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. We’ve all seen the growth and prosperity of a new hospital and associated development can bring, and we look forward to working alongside NGHS to build a better future for our community.”

 

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Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Offices locates runaway juveniles

Community, News

LUMPKIN CO., GA

According to the Lumpkin County Sheriff’s Office, Deputy Michael Gravely met with two complainants at the LCSO, regarding two runaway juveniles on March 3.

Complainant one explained that his fourteen-year-old daughter had her fifteen-year-old-friend staying with her for a sleepover at his Dahlonega residence. Sometime between 8:00PM and 11:30PM, they left the residence, and the complainant was unaware of where they had gone, since the two juveniles did not have permission to leave. After the information was confirmed by complainant two, they both told police that they had spent the night/early morning looking for the missing teens.

Officials searched the known areas and people who might know the juveniles, in an attempt to locate them. A Missing/Lost Persons Report was filed for both teens, and a BOLO was sent out for the local area/surrounding counties. The juveniles were also put on the LCSO media page, with guardian permission.

Investigators learned from an informant, who was the boyfriend of the runaways, that both girls were at the birthday party around midnight and were in good spirits during the party. About 15 minutes after their arrival, both girls left, (presumingly on foot), but returned to the party after some time, in a gray, four-door, passenger vehicle, (possibly a Honda Civic), with a Georgia tag.

They were with two white males, whom he had never met. He noticed the males acting suspicious, by hiding every time a car drove by. The informant further explained that the two males had revealed that they were on probation and had warrants out for their arrests.

The white males also stated that the juveniles had told him that they had run away, and were scared of getting caught, due to the potentiality of juvenile court.

Further questioning led investigators to a Dawson County residence, where the missing juveniles were possibly hiding. Deputy Gravely reports seeing a gray, four-door, passenger sedan with a Georgia tag at the residence, but they could not locate any individuals at the residence.

On March 3, at exactly 8:00PM, Deputy Gravely received text messages from the original complainants, stating that they both believe they had new information on the teen’s whereabouts, and at 8:22PM on March 3, the LCSO posted on their Facebook page that the missing teens had been found, “Both teenage girls have been found safe. I would like to thank everyone for your assistance and prayers during the search.  Thanks! Sheriff Stacy M. Jarrard”

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