Partnership Between GNTC & Dalton State Creates New Transfer Opportunities

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) and Dalton State College have established articulation agreements that allows students graduating from select GNTC programs a transition opportunity into specific Dalton State four-year degree programs.

The agreements were signed by the president of both colleges in Peeples Hall on the Dalton State College campus on Wednesday, July 28. Both articulation agreements went into effect immediately and have no end date.

The first agreement allows graduates from Georgia Northwestern’s Automation Engineering Technology, Industrial Systems Technology and Instrumentation and Controls Technician associate degree programs the opportunity to continue their education in Dalton State’s Engineering Technology bachelor’s degree program. The second agreement allows graduates of GNTC’s Networking Specialist associate degree program the opportunity to advance into Dalton State College’s Information Technology bachelor’s degree program. As part of these agreements, both colleges have advisors to guide students through the transfer process.

“The signing of these agreements provides additional opportunities for GNTC students and the ability for them to remain in our community to further their education,” said GNTC President Dr. Heidi Popham. “This partnership represents a continued collaboration between GNTC and Dalton State that is focused on providing our citizens various educational pathways.”

“Agreements between Dalton State and our technical college partner Georgia Northwestern, help us better serve the students of our region as well as our local employers,” said Dr. Margaret Venable, president of Dalton State. “It is a winning strategy for us all.”

COVID Cases Steady In Chattooga County

COVID-19 cases have stayed about the same recently and are still very high. The number of hospitalized COVID patients has risen in the Chattooga County area. Deaths have remained at about the same level.

The test positivity rate in Chattooga County is relatively low, suggesting that testing capacity is adequate for evaluating Covid-19 spread in the area.

An average of 5 cases per day were reported in Chattooga County, about the same as the average two weeks ago. Since the beginning of the pandemic, at least 1 in 8 residents have been infected, a total of 3,022 reported cases. Right now, Chattooga County is at a very high risk for unvaccinated people.

January 2021 was the worst month for cases in Chattooga County.

The New York Times

Trion Schools Release 2021-2022 COVID Protocols

Trion City Schools are back in session Thursday and the school system has released its COVID-19 protocols for the new school year.

Like, the Chattooga County School System, Trion Schools are not requiring masks for students or teachers.  Vaccinations are recommended but not required for employees or students.

There are changes being made to quarantining, but if a staff member or student has a member of their household test positive for COVID-19, they will be required to quarantine before returning to school.  A doctor’s note will be needed saying that they should quarantine.

You can see all the information below:

Arrest Report - Wednesday - August 4, 2021

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Wednesday, August 4, 2021:

Federal Prosecutors Say Dr. Gary Smith Prescribed Unnecessary Opioids

North Georgia Healthcare Center, Inc. (“NGHC”), a Ringgold, Georgia, based nonprofit corporation and healthcare provider, as well as its CEO, Delaine Hunter, have agreed to pay $130,000.00 dollars to settle allegations that they violated the False Claims Act by causing the submission of medically unnecessary claims for Schedule II controlled substances to the United States and State of Georgia.

Specifically, the Complaint alleges that Dr. Gary Smith, a former NGHC physician, improperly prescribed opioids without appropriate medical review and judgment of medical necessity.

“Medical professionals are trusted to prescribe controlled substances in compliance with the law and in a manner that protects the health and safety of their patients,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Kurt R. Erskine.  “We will continue to vigorously pursue those who breach that trust using every tool at our disposal.”

“Healthcare fraud is not a victimless crime, with fraudsters often preying on beneficiaries across the country. Especially insidious is the fraud committed by heath care practitioners who are trusted to prescribe only medically necessary, quality services to patients,” said Special Agent in Charge Derrick L. Jackson of the Department of Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General. “Working closely with our law enforcement partners, our agency will continue to protect the public by holding those responsible for such schemes responsible for their actions.”

“We are fighting the opioid epidemic on many fronts, including holding those accountable who improperly prescribe without appropriate medical review and judgment,” said Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr. “These types of allegations will receive our full attention because of the potential harm to Georgians and the improper use of taxpayer dollars.”

“The opioid addiction crisis in this country affects everyone to include the military and their families,” stated Special Agent in Charge Cynthia A. Bruce, Department of Defense Office of Inspector General, Defense Criminal Investigative Service (DCIS), Southeast Field Office.  “This settlement is another step forward in striking at the heart of physician assisted addiction and holding those medical professionals accountable for unethical service.”

To be reimbursable under Government insurance programs such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare, drugs prescribed by a physician must be (1) rendered pursuant to the prescriber’s medical judgment, and (2) reasonable and medically necessary.  Additionally, under Georgia law, only physicians – and not mid-level practitioners such as physician assistants – can write prescriptions for Schedule II drugs, which includes, but is not limited to, opioids such as oxycodone and hydrocodone.  Where a physician assistant interacts with a patient and concludes that the patient requires a Schedule II drug, the doctor that supervises the physician assistant must concur that the pertinent Schedule II drug is medically necessity and must sign the associated prescription.

The Government alleges that physician assistants – and not Dr. Smith –saw most of the patients at NGHC.  Dr. Smith only visited NGHC one afternoon per week, and rarely saw patients or reviewed their charts.  The Government further alleges that Dr. Smith routinely signed stacks of prescriptions (which included, but were not limited to, prescriptions for Schedule II drugs) for patients that he had neither seen nor otherwise evaluated.  Finally, the Government alleges that NGHC’s CEO failed to promptly address this behavior once alerted to it by several NGHC employees.

Dr. Smith, in a separate settlement agreement with the United States Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General, has agreed to a voluntary 10 year exclusion from participation in all federal healthcare programs.  As result, both Dr. Smith and any provider using Dr. Smith’s services will be unable to obtain reimbursement for care provided to any patients insured under a government healthcare program, such as Medicare, Medicaid and Tricare.

The settlement resolves a lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia by a former NGHC employee under the qui tam or whistleblower provisions of the False Claims Act, which permit private citizens to bring lawsuits on behalf of the United States and obtain a portion of the government’s recovery.  The case is captioned United States and Georgia ex rel. Krysta Mangrum v. LabCorp, et al. (Civil Action No. 1-18-cv-312).  The claims resolved by this settlement are allegations only and there has been no determination of liability.

This matter was investigated by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Georgia, the Georgia Medicaid Fraud Control Unit, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General and the Defense Criminal Investigative Service of the U.S. Department of Defense – Office of Inspector General.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Paris A. Wynn and Assistant Attorney General Sara Vann handled this matter.

Press Release from U.S. Justice Department

Summerville Police Respond To Assault At Apartment Complex

Summerville Police responded to an assault at the Pine Hill Apartments last week.  The assault involved a man hitting another and pulling a knife.

According to a report released on Monday of this week, the incident happened on July 27th when a woman called to report that her brother had gotten into an altercation with her boyfriend.

When police arrived they found the woman and her boyfriend outside the residence.  They told police that forty-eight-year-old Gary Cordle had beat the victim with his fists and pulled a knife during the scuffle.  The officer saw injuries to the victim’s face and went in to speak with Cordle.

Cordle admitted to waking up and going to the bed where his sister’s boyfriend was sleeping and beating him with his fists.  When asked why, Cordle told the officer that he didn’t know why he “just got mad.”  Cordle admitted to beating the man and to pulling a knife.

Officers found suspected Oxycodone pills in the possession of Cordle and arrested him on charges drug possession, aggravated assault, simple battery and possession of a weapon during the commission of a crime.

GNTC Unveils The Mohawk Industrial Systems Lab

Georgia Northwestern Technical College (GNTC) is proud to announce its partnership with Mohawk Industries through the company’s recent sponsorship of the Industrial Systems Technology program lab on the Whitfield Murray Campus (WMC) in Dalton.

The Mohawk Industrial Systems Lab will give GNTC students hands-on experience with the same equipment used daily by industrial systems technicians and other professionals in the field of advanced manufacturing.

“GNTC graduates have a great foundation and can fit into a lot of jobs we have at our facilities,” said Linda McEntire, director of technical training at Mohawk. “When applicants come from this program, they can go straight into our workforce without a lot of additional training. They can hit the ground running or have a much smaller learning curve for some of our specialized roles.”

The demand for these roles is high, McEntire added. “As Mohawk continues to invest in advancing technology and equipment, skilled multi-craft technicians are needed to handle the different roles and work opportunities offered in our growing industry.”

“These students are so well equipped to come into these jobs and be successful,” said Sherrie Patterson, chair of the GNTC Foundation Trustees.

During the GNTC Foundation’s 2020 Year End Giving Campaign, Mohawk Industries helped contribute to the $90,000 in scholarship funds raised during the campaign. The GNTC Foundation coordinated sponsorship in appreciation of the company’s continued support of the college.

“Mohawk is a great partner of GNTC and employer of our students,” said GNTC President Dr. Heidi Popham. “Our industrial partnerships are fundamental to the workforce development success we see in our communities.  We could not have accomplished what we have this past year without our valued partnerships.”

Mohawk Industries is the leading global flooring manufacturer in createing products to enhance residential and commercial spaces around the world. Mohawk’s vertically integrated manufacturing and distribution processes provide competitive advantages in the production of carpet, rugs, ceramic tile, laminate, wood, stone and vinyl flooring. Their industry-leading innovation has yielded products and technologies that differentiate their brands in the marketplace and satisfy all remodeling and new construction requirements. Mohawk brands are among the most recognized in the industry and include American Olean, Daltile, Durkan, Karastan, IVC, Marazzi, Mohawk, Pergo, Quick-Step and Unilin. During the past decade, Mohawk has transformed its business from an American carpet manufacturer into the world’s largest flooring company with operations in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Europe, India, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Russia and the United States.

Summerville Main Street Hosting Jazz Festival

Summerville Main Street will host a Jazz Festival on Saturday, August 7. This New Orleans themed festival, where fun is the thing and Jazz is the king, is a free public event that will begin at 3:00 p.m. and run through 10:00 p.m.

The event will be held down the East Washington Street Streetscape. The first 2 blocks of East Washington Street from US 27 Commerce Street will be closed to traffic Saturday from 5:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. for this special event. Great music, good food, beautiful art, and many activities are planned for the whole family throughout the evening and into the night.

A highlight of the event is the River Arts District Playhouse – The RAD performance of Ain’t Misbehavin’, a musical show by Fats Waller, to be performed at 8:00 p.m. in the Open Air Pavilion. This show just finished 10 sold out performances in Rome at the RAD Playhouse. Tickets for special seating in the Open Air Pavilion are available for purchase at The RAD.biz or bring your lawn chair to enjoy the performance on the street. Chasity Brunache, chorus teacher for Chattooga High, Menlo, and Lyery schools, has one of the lead roles as Armelia McQueen in the romantic comedy filled with jazz music from the 20’s & 30’s. Chasity has touched many lives in Chattooga County through music and education. She was named Teacher of The Year for 2020, and also serves as the Assistant Band Director for Chattooga High School and the 8th Grade Band Director for Summerville Middle School. Chasity has sung alongside of Phylicia Rashad during her days at Reinhardt University and interned with her vocal coach who worked for Tyler Perry on the set of For Colored Girls.

Music and comedy will fill the air throughout the day beginning at 3:00 p.m. on 2 stages. On the Cook’s Stage The Chicken Gizzards Dixieland Band, made up of the faculty, staff and students of the Chattooga Band Program will kick off the event at 3:00 p.m. followed by the Smooth Jazz Sounds of Jerry & Bengie at 4:30 p.m. and wrapping up with Live Comedy by Brandon Gurley and Ask Tam A Gram at 6:00 p.m. On The Ga Ga’s Stage Singer, Songwriter Hoyt Mangrum will lead off at 3:45 p.m. followed by a USO style performance by Emily Tumlin at 5:45 p.m. and wrapping up with a performance by professional musicians Andrew Horton & Jason Smith at 6:45 p.m.

Jazz fest cooks will not leave visitors hungry with what they have prepared. From New Orleans delicacies, such as Andouille, Jambalaya, and Gumbo to more traditional dishes like barbecue and tasty desserts, there will be plenty of opportunity to discover old favorites, as well as discover new and exotic foods. Tables will be set up on the street for outdoor dining.

A free Scavenger Hunt activity for youth ages 4-16 will be offered at the Summerville Main Street booth beginning at 4:00 p.m. Free Frio Popsicles will be awarded to the first 20 youth to complete the hunt with correct answers. Youth may also want to take part in mardi gras mask decorating or face jewel art.

Visitors will also be able to visit booths with jewelry, arts, paintings, and clothing, much of which are handcrafted. Parking for this event will be at the Summerville Depot and general parking areas in downtown Summerville. For more information on this event visit www.summervillega.org

Man Adds To Charges After Biting Officers At Jail

A twenty-eight-year-old man was arrested this week in Rome while at Olea Olive Oils and Wine in Rome.

According to Floyd County Jail records, Hayden Lee Tucker was arrested at the store on charges of being a public drunk.  Police say that Tucker got into a scuffle with a Floyd County Sheriff’s Deputy and allegedly bit the deputy.

Tucker was charged with several misdemeanors, including: simple assault, public drunk, criminal trespass, battery against law enforcement officers and unlawful acts of violence in a penal institution.

In addition to the misdemeanor charges, Tucker was charged with four felony counts of obstruction of an officer.

Paradise Garden "Fun Folk Art" Online Auction

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This Saturday, the Paradise Garden Foundation will host the second annual “Fun Folk Art” online art auction benefiting Howard Finster’s Paradise Garden in Summerville, Georgia.

The online auction has 25 lots with 70 works of art including master artists Bernice Sims, Benny Carter, S.L. Jones, Jessie Cooper (all pictured), Levent Isik, Lonnie & Twyla Money and many others.

Several Finster Fest self-taught and folk artists are featured in the online art auction including Michael Banks, Martha Sandlin, Peter Loose, James Schroeder, Kim Clayton, and C. Larry Wilson with proceeds benefiting Paradise Garden.

The entire two-day online auction features 688 lots of self-taught art, outsider art, southern folk pottery, quilts and contemporary folk art. Follow the auction starting this Saturday at 10 a.m. Click on the link below:

HERE

Georgia Power Notes Increase In Scams

 

With a recent increase in reports regarding scams and fraudulent phone calls by criminals posing as Georgia Power employees, the company is reminding customers to be aware and follow simple tips to avoid being a target.

Georgia Power urges customers to be cautious when contacted by an unverified person claiming to be a Georgia Power representative. The company will never initiate calls to customers asking for sensitive information or credit card or pre-paid debit card numbers over the phone. Additionally, the company does not call customers to set up automatic payments, to “update” sensitive account information or to ask customers to “pay for a new meter.” The company also does not send employees into the field to collect payment in person or ask a customer to pay with currencies like Bitcoin or to pay anywhere other than an Authorized Payment Location (APL).

Georgia Power also provides the following guidance to customers:

  • If an account becomes past due, Georgia Power will contact the customer via a pre-recorded message to the primary account telephone number or by letter requesting that the customer call Georgia Power to discuss the account.
  • If a customer receives a suspicious call from someone claiming to be from Georgia Power and demanding payment to avoid disconnection or to enroll in a new service or automatic payment process, the customer should contact the company’s customer service line at 888-660-5890. As scammers have tried to promote the use of fraudulent 800 numbers, customers should always check to make sure they are calling the correct Georgia Power customer service line at 888-660-5890, which can be verified at www.georgiapower.com.
  • Be suspicious and hang up if anyone calls saying they need to update your account or automated payment information.
  • Delete all emails that demand immediate payment or personal information or that are from a company that is not Georgia Power.
  • If an employee needs to visit a customer’s home or business for a service-related issue, they will be in uniform and present a badge with a photo, their name and the company’s name and logo. They will also be in a vehicle marked with the company’s logo.

Georgia Power continues to work with law enforcement agencies throughout the state to identify and prosecute criminals who pose as Georgia Power employees in order to defraud customers.

Commissioner Looking For Bids For Tooga Theater

Pursuant to an act of Legislature HB No. 414 (Georgia Laws 1956, Page 2899 as amended), sealed bids will be received by the Chattooga County Commissioner for work on the Tooga Theater located at 10111 Commerce Street, Summerville, GA 30747, as follows:

Paint front of building
Replace windows on 2nd floor
Repair windows on 1st floor
Repair/refinish front doors
Needed information will be available in the Commissioner’s Office located at 10102 Commerce Street, Summerville, GA 30747
Said bids must be sealed with the words “Sealed Bid” written across the outside of the envelope and received in the above address on or before 10 a.m., Friday, August 13, 2021, at which time bids will be opened.
The Commissioner reserves the right to reject any or all bids.
Blake Elsberry, Commissioner

Commissioner Says He Will Roll Back Millage Rate

Chattooga County Commissioner Blake Elsberry announced on Tuesday that he will roll back the millage rate for Chattooga County property owners to help offset an increase in property values.

Commissioner Elsberry says that he will be setting the millage rate at 18.356%, down from last year’s millage rate of 19.617%.  The move will mean a decrease of about 5% in property taxes collected by the county.

Millage rates are the tax rates used to calculate local property taxes. The rate represents the amount a homeowner has to pay for every $1,000 of a property’s assessed value. Homeowners can calculate annual property taxes using the property’s tax-assessed value and the total assigned millage rate.

Elderly Woman Found In Trion Home In Deplorable Condition

 

A Chattooga County couple was arrested in connection with a shocking case of neglect towards an elderly family member.

A Williams Shortcut Road, Trion couple has been charged after their landlord called the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Department because he suspected that an elderly woman was not receiving the care that she needed.  The landlord told a responding deputy that the house had the water shut off.

When a deputy arrived on the scene, he talked with the brother of the man who lived at the residence.  The brother told the deputy that the couple had borrowed his car and he was there to look after the elderly woman while they were gone.  When the deputy entered the house, sacks of trash were everywhere and there was a strong odor of dog feces throughout the house.

When the deputy entered the room where the elderly lady was staying, he observed roaches crawling around the woman.  The deputy said there was so much dog feces on the floor, he found it difficult to keep his footing.

While the deputy was speaking to the woman, the couple who were in charge of caring for her came home.  After questioning the elderly woman, the deputy placed Mary Odell and Erby Odell under arrest for cruelty to an elderly person.

The deputy stated, “The whole time I was there from I noticed that neither Mr. Odell or his wife Mary Odell was worried about (the elderly woman); they were more worried about their dogs and  if they were going to go to jail, what they were going to do about the animals.”

The elderly lady was taken by Redmond EMS for medical treatment.

Meet The Teacher Night K-5 On Wednesday

Arrest Report - Tuesday August 3, 2021

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Tuesday August 3, 2021:

Chattooga Chamber Announces "Member Of The Month" - Trade Day

The Chattooga County Chamber of Commerce has selected Ye Olde Trade Day Grounds as the Member of the Month for August 2021.

Trade Day was started in 1976 by Jane Schlachter. Larry came on the scene in 1983, and the two have been working diligently to build Trade Day as THE place to be on Tuesdays and Saturdays. They moved the vendor area from the front lot to across the train tracks two years ago to the day. We caught them celebrating the birthday. Check out Jane’s balloon! They added a pavilion, concession stand and restrooms, and now use the front lot for parking.
Trade Day attracts visitors and locals alike. It is one of the top 4 attractions in Chattooga County. You can spot the ad above in the August issue of Georgia Magazine. It is part of the Chamber’s marketing plan for the Explore Georgia grant they received this summer. We are running an ad on Facebook leading up to the World’s Longest Yard Sale slated for next weekend.
Jane & Larry love meeting a broad range of shoppers and vendors, and they’re looking forward to making even more connections as many yard sale enthusiasts take a side trip to 12071 Highway 27 in search of treasures. Discover Trade Day TODAY!

"World's Longest Yard Sale" Starts Thursday

The 127 Yard Sale is commonly referred to as “The World’s Longest Yard Sale”. That’s because it really is the longest yard sale in the world. To be exact, it’s 690 miles long and the route travels through 6 states; Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, Tennessee, Georgia, and Alabama. The yard sale kicks off this Thursday, August 5, 2021.

The majority of the route follows Highway 127 from Addison, MI in the north to Chattanooga, TN in the south. From Lookout Mountain, GA to Gadsden, AL the route switches to Lookout Mountain Parkway. Both are scenic drives allowing you to appreciate the beautiful countryside of these states all while enjoying the fun and excitement of The World’s Longest Yard Sale.

The route for the World’s Longest Yard Sale makes its way through Chattooga County on the way to Gadsden, Alabama.

You can learn more about the route and the details of the World’s Longest Yard Sale HERE

Public Health Director Talks Uptick In COVID Cases

The latest statistics show Georgia’s COVID-19 cases have soared in the past week. Georgia health officials reported that Georgia’s COVID-19 cases have jumped 204 percent in 14 days.

Hospitalizations in Georgia have increased by about 50 percent in the past 14 days, and deaths have increased by about 18 percent in the same period. Vaccination has stalled statewide and only 40% of Georgians are fully vaccinated, the health agency said.

This weekend, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, the Director for the Georgia Department of Public Health, will be featured on the Georgia News Network’s “Georgia Focus” program to talk about the uptick in the number of COVID cases and the state health department’s response.

“Georgia Focus” can be heard weekly on WZQZ 99.1 FM and AM 1180 at 6 AM on Sundays.

Walker Takes Job With City Of Rome

Doug Walker is well-known name in local media in Northwest Georgia.  He spent many years on the radio at WRGA and the former South 107 as news director and was most recently working as the associate-editor with the Rome News Tribune.  Monday morning, the City of Rome announced that Walker is taking a position with the city in media relations.

According to a press release from the City of Rome, Walker will join the city communications team beginning Wednesday, August 25, 2021.

He will serve to help expand and enhance public relations and public information efforts for the city across all forms of media including websites, social media, television, and radio.

Walker has served in many leadership roles including President of the Georgia Association of Newscasters, Board of Directors of Chieftains Museum and the Rome-Floyd Commission on Children and Youth Board.

He has a B.A. in communications with a double minor in journalism from Auburn University. His hobbies include photography and travel.