Secretary of State unveils new absentee ballot request portal

News, Press Release
absentee ballots

ATLANTA-Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger unveils a new online portal to make it easier for Georgia voters to request absentee ballots for the November elections. Georgia voters with a driver’s license or state ID card will now be able to request an absentee ballot entirely online.

“Georgia is constantly searching for new and innovative ways to expand access to the ballot and uphold the integrity of the vote,” said Raffensperger. “We are encouraging Georgia voters who are particularly vulnerable to the COVID-19 threat to use our new online absentee ballot request portal to request absentee ballots safely and securely from their computers or phones. This new tool will help counties stay on top of the several million absentee ballot requests expected in November.”

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger has developed a website that will allow Georgia voters to request an absentee ballot entirely online. Georgia voters will be able to request their ballot via the portal using their first and last name, date of birth, county where they are registered, and Georgia State ID or Georgia Driver’s License number. Voters will get a confirmation email that their request has been entered into the system. Also, voters can monitor their ballot status on My Voter Page.

The portal is available herehttp://www.securevotega.com/secureabsentee/

Absentee ballots requested for the November 2020 presidential election cannot be sent out before September 15.

In the past, Georgia voters had to download and print an absentee ballot request, then scan and email it or put it in the mail. This new portal saves voters effort and postage and will increase confidence that the request has been received by county elections officials. It also makes it easier and faster for county election official to process absentee ballot requests by minimizing the possibility of data entry errors.

While the State ID or driver’s license number provide a secure safeguard for requesting ballots, the ballots themselves will still be verified by matching the voter signature to their signature on file upon submission. A record 1.6 million absentee ballot requests were received for the June primary, inundating county elections officials. This portal will make processing the large number of absentee ballot requests expected for the November election easier for county election officials to process quickly and accurately.

Health Department offering back to school vaccinations

Community, Panther's Corner
testing guidelines vaccinations

GAINESVILLE, GA – District 2 Public Health reminds all parents that now is a good time to get those required school vaccinations. With the challenges and uncertainty that we face with Covid-19, it can be easy to forget about school and necessary vaccines for your child (or children).

Kids need pencils, paper, and other supplies for school. Just as important, children entering kindergarten, middle school, and high school are required to have certain vaccinations and not all children are up-to-date on their shots. To help ensure all children get their vaccines, District 2 Health Departments will hold special clinics for school immunizations at certain locations on these dates:

July 13 – 17                Dawson, Habersham, Union, and White Counties

Seventh-grade vaccines: Monday and Thursday                                 10:00 am to 7:00 pm

Kindergarten and Pre-school:  Tuesday, Wednesday and Friday                8:00 am to 5:00 pm

 

July 20 – 24               Hall, Lumpkin, Rabun, Franklin, and Towns Counties

Seventh-grade vaccines: Monday and Thursday                                 10:00 am to 7:00 pm

Kindergarten and Pre-school: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday                8:00 am to 5:00 pm

 

July 27 – 31                Banks, Forsyth, Hart, and Stephens

Seventh-grade vaccines: Monday and Thursday                                 10:00 am to 7:00 pm

Kindergarten and Pre-School: Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday                 8:00 am to 5:00 pm

Vaccinations are by appointment only to help protect the health of our customers. Please observe social distancing and wear a mask when coming for your appointment.

Dispose of Old Electronics Saturday at NGTC

Press Release
electronics

BLAIRSVILLE, GA – Keep Union County Beautiful (KUCB) in partnership with Document Destruction Services and Atlanta Recycling Solutions are taking old electronics on Saturday, Nov. 9 from 10 a.m. until 12 p.m at North Georgia Technical College. It will be rescheduled if rain is forecasted for that weekend, so please check with KUCB before making the trip.

The organization will request a $5 donation for Mountain Animal Shelter. Over the past four years, the event has raised around $4,000 for shelter animals.

The even is accepting TVs for a $20 fee and old CRT monitors for a $10 fee. The cost is what it takes to recycle televisions and monitors due to the high amounts of mercury in the glass.

Before arriving and to keep the line flowing, please remove and bag all cords/ cables from your devices. The address for North Georgia Technical College is 121 Meeks’ Park Ave., Blairsville, Ga 30512.

A few items will NOT be accepted, which are:

  • Projection/Console TVs
  • Washer/Dryers
  • Vacuum Cleaners
  • Speakers (Wooden)
  • Gas Grill Tanks
  • Battery Powered Tools
  • Liquid Containing Devices
  • Alkaline Batteries
  • Car Batteries
  • Toaster Ovens
  • De-Humidifiers
  • Gas Powered Tools
  • Household Trash
  • Microwave Ovens
  • Radioactive Material
  • Humidifiers
  • Tires
  • Freezers
  • Blenders
  • Mixers
  • Ovens
  • Hair Dryers
  • Ceiling Fans
  • Refrigerators

Originally, the event was scheduled for Oct. 26 but moved due to rain. For more information on disposing of your old electronics, call 706-318-5448.

UCFD Looking for Volunteer and Structural Firefighters

Announcements, Press Release
firefighters

BLAIRSVILLE, Ga – Union County Fire Department (UCFD) is searching for more volunteer firefighters to join their ranks.

Currently, both career and volunteer firefighters make up the UCFD. However, volunteers make up the majority of the department. They have a motivated and dedicated volunteer force that is well trained, but UCFD is always in need of more volunteers.

Several of UCFD’s current volunteers have become increasingly busy and unable to dedicate as much time to volunteering and responding as in the past. The call for new volunteers will assist in lessening the response time to fires and other emergencies

Many have found working in the fire service to be rewarding. UCFD is looking for people that have “firefighter” traits aka knowledge seekers, problem solvers, and helpers. These individuals want to learn new lifesaving skills and be part of the adventure that is the fire service.

Most people see joining the fire department as a volunteer job where they must run into a burning building. Some firefighters do enter burning structures, but there are many jobs in the volunteer fire department that do not involve going into a burning building. There are support roles such as pumping fire apparatus, supporting fire operations, wildland firefighting, search and rescue, and many more. These are essential jobs that must be performed for us to be successful.

Additional UCFD is in need of structural firefighters or people willing to complete the training on interior structure firefighting. It is mentally and physically challenging, but it can be the most thrilling and rewarding experience.

Contact the headquarters station at 706-439-6091 for information on applications or visit the headquarters station at 507 Shoe Factory Rd. Interested people may complete the application, and if accepted, start fire training in November.

 

Census Bureau Employees Verifying County Addresses

Announcements, Community, Press Release
Census Bureau

BLAIRSVILLE, GA – The Union County Sheriff’s Office issued a press release stating field representatives from the Department of Commerce Census Bureau have started making rounds throughout the community.

They will be verifying addresses in preparation for the 2020 Census. If someone visits your home, the sheriff’s office provided information on how to identify Census Bureau employees.

The workers are temporary and can only be verified by calling the Main Census Bureau Atlanta Office at (470) 889-6800. The regional bureau or Department of Commerce offices cannot confirm employment status.

These field representatives will present an ID badge that contains:

  • Their name
  • Their photograph
  • A Department of Commerce Watermark
  • An expiration date

Additionally, they will be carrying a bag or laptop with the bureau’s logo to gather survey information. They will also provide a letter of intent stating why they are at the residence.

Field representatives will work between the hours of 9 a.m. and 9 p.m. and will provide the supervisor’s contact information upon request.

Currently, these workers should only be verifying addresses for next year.

Collins Praises Isakson Legacy

Announcements, Politics

GAINESVILLE, Ga.—Rep. Doug Collins (R-Ga.) released the following statement after Senator Johnny Isakson (R-Ga.) announced he will resign from the U.S. Senate at the end of 2019 after 40 years of public service.

“Johnny Isakson has been a standard of public service and statesmanship for decades in Georgia. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians. Johnny faithfully remembers the forgotten, including America’s veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”

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www.dougcollins.house.gov

PRESS RELEASE: Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson

Announcements, Politics

Speaker David Ralston Thanks Senator Johnny Isakson

ATLANTA – Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) issued the following statement on the news that Georgia’s senior United States Senator Johnny Isakson will resign from office at the end of the year:

“The loss of Johnny Isakson from public life will leave a void in Georgia which is beyond comprehension. While I respect his reasons, I feel a tremendous sense of personal sadness – Johnny is a mentor, role model and friend. Over a distinguished career in the Georgia House, Georgia State Senate, State Board of Education, U.S. House and U.S. Senate, Johnny Isakson demonstrated that civility and reasonableness are virtues that will never go out of style. My family and I will continue to pray for Johnny, Dianne and the Isakson family.”

GDOT Continues Asphalt Repair in Cherokee County

Press Release

Press Release: GBI Crime Lab Identifies Counterfeit Pills

Press Release

Press Release

News

Benton MacKaye Trail Association Press Release

Community

PRESS RELEASE:

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) is seeking volunteers to help with trail maintenance for an upcoming work trip.

According to Barry Allen, Georgia work trip coordinator for the BMTA, a work trip is planned for Saturday, Dec. 9, on a section of trail near Fall Branch Falls in Fannin County. This month’s Georgia work trip will focus on completing the re-route at Fall Branch Falls. Allen stated there are a few more steps needing to be installed, which will require hauling timbers, along with a 50-foot section of trail to dig. Also, a number of water diversions just upstream from the falls will be put in place.

Allen hopes to have work completed for the day around lunchtime and mentioned he would bring his grill with him if the weather is nice to grill some burgers and brats for a post-work lunch.

All work trip participants are asked to wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeve pants and shirts, work gloves and, for cold-weather trips, multiple thin layers that can be easily shed one at a time. Also, a daypack for storing food, water or other items is always a good idea for work trips. Food and water are not supplied by the BMTA on work trips; however, tools are provided by the Association. The BMTA recommends workers to bring at least two liters of water for the trip.

Those interested can meet either at The Iron Bridge Café and General Store on Aska Road across from Shallowford Bridge, at 8:00 a.m. or at Fall Branch Falls at 9 a.m.

The Benton MacKaye Trail spans three states – Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina – and nearly 300 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Davenport Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is enjoyed by thousands of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts each year.

For anyone with questions or needing further information, contact Barry Allen at bmtabarry@gmail.com or 770-294-7384.

Press Release – Georgia Department of Insurance

State & National

“Operation Rattlesnake” Targets On-line Child Predators

Press Release

“Operation Rattlesnake” Targets On-line Child Predators

Decatur, GA (10/10/17) – As a result of a proactive undercover investigation coordinated by the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s Child Exploitation and Computer Crimes Unit (CEACC), the Hall County Sheriff’s Office, and the Hall County District Attorney’s Office, five (5) people were arrested over a four-day period beginning Thursday, October 5, 2017.  Those arrested were charged with O.C.G.A. 16-12-100.2, Computer or Electronic Pornography and Child Exploitation Prevention Act of 2007.  Additional charges may be forthcoming.

“Operation Rattlesnake” was a four-day proactive effort centered in Hall County, GA.  The operation took several months of planning.  The arrestees, ranging in age from 23 to 58, traveled from areas around metro Atlanta with the intent to meet a child for sex.  One person that was arrested was a registered sex offender with previous convictions for child molestation and statutory rape.

The goal of “Operation Rattlesnake” was to arrest persons who communicate with children on-line and then travel to meet them for the purpose of having sex.  In addition, the operation targeted those that are willing to exploit children by purchasing sex with a minor. On-line child predators visit chat rooms and websites on the internet, find children, begin conversations with them, introduce sexual content and arrange a meeting with the children for the purpose of having sex.  The children these predators target are both boys and girls.  Since 2014, the Georgia ICAC Task Force has arrested over 100 people in similar operations.  

Over the course of the multi-day operation, investigators had almost 300 exchanges with subjects on various social media or internet platforms. More than 60 of those were exchanges in which the subject initiated contact with whom they believed to be a minor and directed the conversation towards sex. In some of those cases, the subject introduced obscene or lude content, often exposing the minor (UC) to pornography or requesting the child take nude or pornographic images for them. More than 170 exchanges involved websites used for dating, socializing, or even websites used for classified advertisements.  Although some websites promote themselves as being for “adults-only” it is not uncommon for law enforcement to work cases in which children access these sites, establish profiles claiming to be older, and then find themselves vulnerable to victimization, harassment, blackmail, or assault. More than a dozen subjects were identified as communicating simultaneously with multiple investigators posing as minors. Such activity confirms what investigators uncover conducting these types of investigations: that many predators specifically seek out minors on such websites to groom them as potential victims for sexual contact.

Along with those agencies who participated in the planning and coordinating of the operation, eleven (11) additional law enforcement agencies participated in “Operation Rattlesnake” as members of the Georgia ICAC Task Force. These agencies were:

    1. Brookhaven Police Department
    2. Coweta County Sheriff’s Office
    3. Forsyth County Sheriff’s Office
    4. Gainesville Police Department
    5. Georgia Information Sharing and Analysis Center (GISAC)
    6. Hall County Solicitor’s Office
    7. Hall Multi-Agency Narcotics Squad
    8. LaGrange Police Department
    9. Oakwood Police Department
    10. Richmond County Sheriff’s Office
    11. Roswell Police Department

The proactive on-line investigation was a coordinated effort among the participating law enforcement agencies to combat this activity.  Hall County Sheriff Gerald Couch stated, “This operation is a prime example of interagency planning and cooperation.  I am proud that we were able to host the task force at our facility to carry it out.  Moreover, I hope that these arrests send a loud and clear message: the exploitation of children will not be tolerated in Hall County.  We look forward to working with the ICAC task force whenever needed to stop these predators. Hall County is a great community and we will work relentlessly to ensure that it remains a safe place for our children.” GBI Special Agent in Charge, and Commander of the Georgia Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force, Debbie Garner remarked “The Hall County Sheriff’s Office is one of our most active member agencies.  We appreciate their daily efforts to combat child exploitation.  This type of cooperation and collaboration is invaluable in the effort to keep our children safe from predators who seek to harm them.  This successful operation was a partnership between all the agencies involved. We will continue to aggressively work together to protect our children.”  

The following were arrested and charged in Hall County as part of “Operation Rattlesnake”:

  1. Melo Hairapetian, W/M, Morris, IL, 28 years of age, construction worker
  2. Baribefe Monkpe, B/M, Lawrenceville, GA, 23 years of age, employment unknown
  3. Anthony Jordan, W/M, Newnan, GA, 37 years of age, unemployed
  4. Drake Cook, W/M, Athens, GA, 23 years of age, retail store employee
  5. James Herndon, W/M, Flowery Branch, GA, 58 years of age, pharmacist

The Georgia ICAC Task Force is comprised of 200+ local, state, and federal law enforcement agencies, other related criminal justice agencies and prosecutor’s offices.  The mission of the ICAC Task Force, created by the U. S. Department of Justice and managed and operated by the GBI in Georgia, is to assist state and local law enforcement agencies in developing an effective response to cyber enticement and child pornography cases. This support encompasses forensic and investigative components, training and technical assistance, victim services, prevention and community education. The ICAC Program was developed in response to the increasing number of children and teenagers using the internet, the proliferation of child pornography, and the heightened online activity by predators searching for unsupervised contact with underage victims. By helping state and local law enforcement agencies develop effective and sustainable responses to online child victimization and child pornography, the ICAC program delivers national resources at the local level.  Arrests made by the Georgia ICAC Task Force have been steadily increasing over the last 3 years.  In 2014, the GA ICAC Task Force made 196 arrests.  The Georgia ICAC Task Force made 244 arrests in 2015, and in 2016, the Georgia ICAC Task Force made 340 arrests. The Georgia ICAC Task Force has made over 2,000 arrests since its inception in 2002.  

Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) Press Release

Community

PRESS RELEASE:

The Benton MacKaye Trail Association (BMTA) is seeking volunteers to help with trail maintenance for an upcoming work trip.

According to Barry Allen, Georgia work trip coordinator for the BMTA, a work trip is planned for Saturday, Nov. 25, on a section of trail within the Big Frog Wilderness Area in Tennessee. Blowovers and downed trees will be the focus of the work trip, and Allen hopes to assemble a team of six to seven sawyers to work the trail south of Forest Service Road 221. Participants in this trip can expect about a five-mile out and back hike, Allen said.

Depending on the turnout and the number of certified crosscut workers, a second team may work another section of the BMT that follows Dry Pond Lead Trail north to Kimsey Hwy. (FS 68). Allen stated this section has not been worked in over a year and will likely also need lopper work even if only a few trees are down. This section is four miles one way and is a gradual uphill climb.

All work trip participants are asked to wear sturdy shoes or boots, long sleeve pants and shirts, work gloves and, for cold-weather trips, multiple thin layers that can be easily shed one at a time. Also, a daypack for storing food, water or other items is always a good idea for work trips. Food and water are not supplied by the BMTA on work trips. The BMTA recommends workers to bring at least two quarts of water for the trip.

Those interested can meet either at The Home Depot in Blue Ridge, Georgia, at 8:30 a.m. or at Thunder Rock Campground eight miles west of Ducktown, Tennessee, off of U.S. Hwy. 64 at 9 a.m.

The Benton MacKaye Trail spans three states – Georgia, Tennessee and North Carolina – and nearly 300 miles from Springer Mountain, Georgia, to Davenport Gap in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park and is enjoyed by thousands of hikers and outdoor enthusiasts each year.

For anyone with questions or needing further information, contact Barry Allen at bmtabarry@gmail.com.

Georgia DOT Continues Cable Rail Repair Along I-575 in Cherokee

Press Release

Georgia DOT Continues Cable Rail Repair along I-575 in Canton, GA

 
CANTON Ga. – A Georgia DOT Maintenance crew resumes today its work on repairing the cable rail along Interstate 575 in Cherokee County.  Work will proceed daily between the hours of 7:30 a.m. and 5:30 p.m., weather permitting.

It is Georgia DOT position that guardrail and cable rail maintenance and repair are essential to keeping our roadways safe for the traveling public.  Our maintenance workers do their best to keep track of the damage to guard/cable rails and make repairs as quickly as possible in order to preserve road safety.

Each day, hundreds of Georgia Department of Transportation employees and contractors work on dozens of highway, bridge and intersection improvements throughout the state.  Their work often brings them and heavy machinery in close proximity to travel lanes. Fifty-seven Georgia DOT personnel and many more motorists, passengers and contractors’ workers have been killed in highway work zone accidents since 1973.  Please help us prevent these tragedies by slowing down; being especially attentive and cautious as you pass through construction work zones; and always driving responsibly.  Safer Driving; Safer Work Zones; For Everyone.  For information on the Department of Transportation, visit http://www.dot.ga.gov.  You also may follow us on (www.facebook.com/GDOTNW) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/GDOTNW).

MEDIA ADVISORY — “Released” Premier

State & National

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