S.A.F.E. Makes Significant Strides Against Domestic Abuse

Community, Featured Stories

Blairsville, Ga – S.A.F.E., also known as Support in Abusive Family Emergencies, has assisted over 309 individuals between July 2018 and July 2019 with significant plans to expand services in the near future.

S.A.F.E. Executive Director Molly Cousin broke down the 2018-2019 numbers, “Of these clients, 104 were outreach (not in the shelter), and 93 lived in the emergency shelter. Of these clients, 112 were children, and 76 were adults. We provided 14,350 services including 469 hotline calls.”

Over the next three years, the organization hopes to expand its shelter space to accommodate more children’s groups and activities. Additionally, S.A.F.E. wants to reach out to the Spanish population as well as educate others in the language. Finally, Cousin addressed a desire to expand awareness of the non-profit in Towns County.


Everyday Clever will play at the event.

One way S.A.F.E.’s hopes for their clients is at their 30th-anniversary event “Rock Against Violence” on September 21 at 6:30 p.m. at Copperhead Lodge. Entertainment includes the band Everyday Clever. Tickets are $10 for ages 16 and up and are available at S.A.F.E. Thrift Stores, Copperhead Lodge, www.safeservices.org, Selah Hair Salon, and Cone and Associates CPA’s Accounting and Tax Services.

“Currently, we have over thirty active volunteers who provide direct service, indirect service, work at the thrift stores or are on our board of directors. Since October 2018, we have received over $30,000 in community monetary donations and the community donated supplies increased significantly in the past year. We are very thankful for such strong support from the community,” stated Cousin.

S.A.F.E. began in 1989 to help those faced with domestic violence, child abuse, or sexual abuse in Union and Towns County.

What started as a 24-hour crisis intervention hotline and support group for women quickly became a grant-funded non-profit organization with support from law enforcement, the judicial system, and social service agencies.

In 1991, Blairsville Jaycees purchased a residence for S.A.F.E to use, and in May of 1991, it officially opened its doors to those in need. Since then, S.A.F.E. has continued to expand its facilities, opening a new facility that can house 16 individuals and meets all ADA and safety requirements, and provides space for all of the services currently offered.

In 2011, the Butterfly House Child Advocacy Center relocated from the S.A.F.E. house to property donated by Union General Hospital. The center allowed for families involved in custody cases to regularly spend supervised visits with their children.

A past client of S.A.F.E had this to say, “If it was not for the people at S.A.F.E. and the Butterfly House Child Advocacy Center’s visitation area, I would not get to see my child that I am working toward getting back to my custody. I was involved in a relationship that was full of domestic violence, and now thanks to everyone at both of these places I am headed in the right direction in getting me and my child back together.”

S.A.F.E. also offers women, children, and men legal advocacy, referral services, children’s programs, family violence assessments/case management, prevention education programs, sexual assault prevention and services, and a family support center program.

When asked about her experience with the organization, Cousin said, “I originally wanted to volunteer with SAFE and see what it was all about. I had no idea what I was getting myself into, but I am so happy it happened that way. The amount of work done on behalf individual client is certainly a lot, but it really changes your outlook on life when you see someone start out somewhat broken and leave successful on their own two feet.”

If anyone needs S.A.F.E.’s services, please call 706-379-3000. Volunteers can also be reached through the Union County Sheriff’s Office, police department, or email at info@safeservices.org.

Union and Towns Partner for the 2020 Census

Featured Stories
2020 Census awareness

Blairsville, Ga – Union and Towns County formed the Trusted Voices committee for assistance with the 2020 census.

With the 2020 Census rapidly approaching – April 1, 2020, Union, Towns, Blairsville, Hiawassee, and Young Harris partnered with the Patrick Malone to form the Trusted Voices committee to ensure maximum participation.

“We had a meeting six week ago with a lady from the Governor’s Office, Anna Miller,” said Mayor Jim Conley “Commissioner Paris put together an agreement with Mr. Patrick Malone who is here tonight that puts [Malone] in charge of the working end of the Census.”

Mayor Jim Conley

Mayor Conley asks for committee members for Trusted Voices.

In the 2010 report, Union recorded around 85 percent of the total population. Towns recorded 87 percent.

Malone hopes to increase Census participation in 2020. The organization serves to encourage individuals to answer the survey through door-to-door visits and community engagements. These efforts will gear up in the fall to promote awareness.

“The committee’s known as the Trusted Voices Campaign. The responsibilities are really minor. It’s just being aware what’s going on with the Census and make sure that we exceed last Census’ participation rate,” explained Malone.

Blairsville City Council appointed Councilman Mary Ruth Cook and Councilman Rhonda Mahan to serve on the Trusted Voices committee to represent Blairsville’s interest. They will have one meeting with Malone and then spread the word in the community.

The city paid Trusted Voices $500 to utilize the service. Hiawassee and Young Harris also paid $500, but Union and Towns are expected to cover the rest of the cost.

Nita Cagle speaks about life on the campaign trail

Election 2018

BLUE RIDGE, Ga. – Georgia’s current Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle continues to make his way across the state in his bid to become Georgia’s next Governor. Recently Cagle made stops through North Georgia as part of his campaign on a two week venture dubbed the “Cagle Country Bus Tour”.

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Nita Cagle speaks to a group of youths in Blairsville, Ga.

While supporters and undecided voters alike packed venues to hear the candidate speak in their hometown, many were surprised to see another Cagle family member emerge from the bus to give her take on why Casey Cagle, her husband, should be Georgia’s next Governor.

Nita Cagle has been by Casey’s side for 32 years. In these 32 years, the Cagle’s have raised three sons and are currently enjoying the addition of three grandchildren to family, but raising a family and having a life in politics has not always been easy.

Cagle holds the title of Second Lady of the State of Georgia, but she says what she is most proud of is her title as wife, mother and now grandmother of the Cagle household.

“I’m the inaugural member of team Cagle,” Georgia’s Second Lady joked as she spoke of the family’s early years in politics.

Casey Cagle first ran for Georgia Senate District 49 in 1994. At this time both of the Cagles were in their late 20s and just beginning a family.

“Casey had helped a friend run a campaign,” Cagle spoke of how their life in public service began, “Over the next couple of years I saw the spark start.”

Cagle admits that when she first noticed that Casey was showing interest in this field, that she was “a little hesitant” to jump on board, but says that her faith changed her attitude.

“I had many nights, many talks, and eventually a calmness just came over me, and I was okay with it. So when he came to me and said this is something that is on my heart, I already knew,” Cagle spoke candidly of her acceptance to stand by Casey as he joined the political arena.

When asked if she felt she had known of Casey’s intentions before he spoke openly of them, Cagle laughed and said, “Actually he probably already knew. It was just ‘how am I going to tell Nita’.”

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Nita Cagle rallies the crowd for her husband at Glenda’s in Cleveland, Ga.

This career move was not always smooth as Cagle had to adapt to managing her time: “The boys were young. You’re divided because you want to be with them both, be a mom and be a wife.”

Ultimately, through family discussions, Cagle decided that she would become a strong foundation for her family at home.

“You only get one time at it,” Cagle explained the decision and the importance of having an active role in a child’s life, “You don’t get a do over.”

This decision did pose obstacles for the Cagles to overcome as the now Lt. Governor was often called away for his job and for campaigns, but Cagle explained that these obstacles are no different than what many families face: “Whether it’s politics, any job is going to put stress. No marriage is going to be without stress.”

Cagle explained that she has been blessed in that despite the calling of Casey’s career, he has always put his family first, “He’s a homebody, and if it is humanly possible to come home, he is coming home.”

With their children grown, Cagle says being on the campaign trail this time has a much different feel, “It absolutely was harder as they were younger. It got a lot easier as they got older. I’m really energized. I’m really enjoying it.”

Having grown children poses a set of new and exciting challenges when it comes to time management, as Cagle announced that their youngest son recently proposed to his girlfriend and would like to wed in the Fall shortly before the Nov. General Election.

This announcement didn’t slow Cagle down as she smiled and enthusiastically explained, “What better thing to do in the middle of all this craziness, than to shut it all down and to celebrate family, remember why we do it to start with, and welcome a new daughter-in-law into our family.”

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Casey Cagle takes time to boast on his wife Nita via social media.

Cagle added that having been in a house of men for so long, and with her two older sons already married she is excited for the wedding and glad that the male to female ratio is evening out.

With the prospect of becoming Georgia’s First Lady, Cagle has given a lot of time to her platform and her mission if given this duty: “I have several things that I have thought about, and I may or may not narrow down.”

Having obtained a degree and having a background in early childhood education, Cagle taught preschool for a number of years.

“I specifically love the preschool age,” Cagle smiled as she discussed one of her goals if given the title of First Lady of Georgia.

Cagle would like to see preschool education expanded and offered throughout Georgia. She cited the importance of teaching children at a young age and how this early nurturing can carry over throughout their life.

Knowing that not every child is able to receive this kind of early start at home, Cagle would like to see this program offered in more areas, stating that the work put into a child at an early age will benefit society for generations to come.

Cagle would also like to put a focus on small businesses throughout Georgia. She and husband Casey got their start by establishing a small business, so she knows first hand the struggles that entrepreneurs face.

“I would like to champion them, and spotlight them,” Cagle said explaining her passion for this area. She noted that small businesses make up a large portion of the Georgia economy, and she would like to see “mom and pop shops” continue to set up and succeed in our state.

Finally Cagle discussed an issue that has come up time and time again on the campaign trail and that is of the opioid epidemic that is not just facing the state of Georgia but affecting countless families nationwide.

Georgia, Fannin County, White County, Towns County, Pickens County, Habersham County, Lieutenant Governor, Governor, Casey Cagle, Nita Cagle, Cagle Country Bus Tour, Opiod Epidemic, Small Business, Preschool, Gubernatorial Race, 2018, General Primary, May, General Election, November, Republican, Family

Nita Cagle is all smiles as she introduces her husband Casey Cagle to the crowd gathered in Habersham County.

From speaking with residents in Georgia, Cagle is left with one strong impression when it comes to the opioid epidemic, “It’s everywhere. It does not discriminate. We hear the same story over and over. It’s repeated everywhere.”

While Cagle admits that she is by no means an expert when it comes to this crisis, she says that she cannot deny the need to address the issue and “get the conversation going.” She states that by hearing the heartbreaking stories from families affected by opioid addiction she understands the depth of the problem and that it will not be an easy one to combat.

Being a multifaceted issue with a number of areas that need to be addressed, Cagle said, “If we are blessed enough to be elected, the platform is going to put me in a position to do good and open doors for the people that know about it.”

Cagle would like to increase awareness of the opioid epidemic and at least on one front open the doors for mentoring programs where families struggling with this issue can speak with former addicts on how to help loved ones.

Cagle also acknowledged the successes being seen through Georgia’s Drug Courts, and would like to study the impacts of possibly expanding these programs.

Nita Cagle beams a confidence and sincerity in all that she speaks of, but perhaps her biggest conviction is in that of her husband’s ability to make a great Governor of Georgia.

“The best way to know the kind of leader or character a person is going to have is to look into the home, and that is what I bring to the table,” Cagle stated smiling at her husband, “I’ve been married to a man that is consistent every single day.”

She speaks of his competitive drive and his ability to connect with people, but says that he is also a fair man and one she is proud to have spent the last 32 years by his side.

Cagle’s birthday is May 23, just one day after the General Primary, and she states that this year she doesn’t want any gifts from her husband but instead, “I just want a good clean win on the 22nd with no run-off.”

“He says it’s mathematically virtually impossible,” Cagle said explaining her husband’s response to her wish, but she then added with her contagious smile, “I have seen him do the impossible before.”




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Natalie Kissel


Georgia Presidents Team vice president is guest speaker at March Towns/Union County Presidents Team meeting


The March meeting of the Towns/Union County Presidents Team was held Monday March 12, 2017, at Cabin Coffee located on the Blairsville Square.

Following the invocation, Deb Curlette asked everyone to join in the recitation the Pledge of Allegiance. Pat Thibodeaux provided an Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (ESPLOST) update. Next, a Greet and Grow session was held. All members introduced themselves, and each new member received a special Presidents
Team button. Members who attended the “Let Trump Be Trump” event in Marietta shared the highlights of our exciting evening with guest speakers Corey Lewendowski and David Bosse.

The monthly activity was an event called “Build It and They Will Come Legally,” a post card campaign, which was sent to Republican members of Congress. Members addressed and mailed 200 postcards.

Union County Board of Education candidate Joan Anderson spoke to the Presidents Team and answered member’s questions.

The highlight of the meeting was a presentation by Claire Harrison, vice president and founding member of the Georgia Presidents Team (GA PT). Claire’s enthusiasm and support inspired us to form our Towns/Union County Presidents Team! Claire was joined by David Brandenburg, editor of the GA PT Newsletter.

The Towns/Union County Presidents Team has members from Fannin, Towns, and Union
counties. We invite interested individuals to join us at our meetings. Additional information
about the Presidents Team can be found here: https://presidentsteam.org/ and https://unioncountygagop.com/affiliated-organizations

The Towns/Union Presidents Team meets the second Monday of every month at noon at
Cabin Coffee. The April meeting will be held on April 9, 2018.

Cutline: Front, Claire Harrison, vice president, GA PT.
Front row, left to right: Dena Gooch, also first vice president Union GOP; Melissa Griggs, Towns County PT; Betty
Luca, co-chairperson, Towns PT, also co-chairperson of Union/Towns Tea Party; Betsy Young, also
president of Towns GOP; Linda Hill, also secretary of Union GOP;
Middle row, left to right: David Brandenburg, board member of GA PT; Chuck Luca, co-chairperson of Towns PT,
also co-chairperson of Union/Towns Tea Party; Doug Sheetz, also District 2 chairperson of Union GOP, Deb
Curlette, chairperson of Union PT; Joan Anderson, guest, UC School Board candidate;
Back row, left to right: Jim Breece; Bill Royce; and Carl Anderson, Union Co.

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