Arrest Report - Monday July 13, 2020

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office forMonday July 13, 2020:

COVID-19 Testing Hours Change At Chattooga Health Department

Starting today, hours are changing for getting free, drive-up COVID-19 testing at the Chattooga County Health Department.

The Georgia Department of Public Health Northwest Health District is changing testing hours at its Northwest Georgia drive-up COVID-19 testing locations throughout the district which includes Chattooga and surrounding counties.

Beginning today, Monday, July 13th, free testing will be available Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. until noon.

Free COVID-19 testing is available to all Georgians, and anyone can be tested.

Last Day To Register To Vote In Runoff Election

If you aren’t registered to vote and you would like to vote in the August 11th Republican Primary Runoff, today is the last day to register to vote.  Thanks to a ruling by a Federal judge and instructions from Georgia’s Secretary of State, non-registered voters will be able to vote in the runoff election as long as they get registered by the end of the business day today.  You can register online Here at the Secretary of State’s website.  You can also register in person at the Chattooga County Registrar Office.  Voters in Chattooga County will be deciding the Republican candidates for two local races – Chattooga County Commissioner and Chattooga County Probate Judge.  Also, voters can cast a ballot in the hotly contested race for U.S. Congress between Marjorie Greene and John Cowan.

Summerville City Council Meeting This Evening

The Summerville City Council will hold a meeting coming up this evening at 5 PM at Summerville City Hall.  The meeting will be open to the public, but you can also watch the meeting online or listen in.  (Find instructions below).  The council’s agenda is full of items dealing with the ongoing water issue that has plagued the city since earlier this year.  The city is buying water from the Chattooga County Water District and the Town of Trion to meet obligations to some water customers.  The council is expected to approve thousands of dollars in expenditures to those other districts at tonight’s meeting.  You can see the full agenda and instructions for “virtual attendance” below:

Dramatic Rise In COVID-19 Cases Push Hospitals To Capacity

Statewide, health officials released data late last week showing that 82% of Georgia’s critical care beds are in use, matching the largest share filled with patients since officials began releasing statistics in mid-April. However, not every patient in a critical care bed has COVID-19.

One of Kemp’s prime goals has been to avoid overloading hospitals, which could lead to much worse outcomes.

Some parts of the state have far fewer critical care beds available. In three of the state’s 14 hospital regions, fewer than 6% of critical care beds were available, including Athens, Valdosta and Atlanta’s northwest suburbs.

According to state health officials, more than 116,900 people in Georgia have had confirmed cases of COVID-19 and at least 3,000 people in the state have died after contracting the virus.

Numbers on Sunday evening show that Chattooga County now has 81 confirmed cases with five hospitalizations and two deaths.

Richardson RICO Case Hearing Pushed Back To July 27

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The Rome News Tribune reported over that weekend that a hearing involve 13 defendants who are accused of collectively defrauding the school system of over $6 million over a period of years has been set for July 27.

Floyd County Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach has had to postpone the hearings at least twice after courthouse staff tested positive for COVID-19. The courthouse reopened on June 22 after an emergency two-week closure.

The case was set to move forward this year — a previous scheduling order had the trial date set for July 27 — but it was halted under an emergency statewide judicial order issued by the Georgia Supreme Court in March.

According to the indictment, Derry Richardson used his position as maintenance director of the school system to create inflated, and in some cases completely fraudulent, invoices for both construction and maintenance projects.

He is accused of conspiring with the other defendants — which include his family and wife — to defraud the school system.

Richardson as well as Harry Bailey, Russell Burkhalter, David English, Rodney Holder, Dwayne Richardson, Jimmy Richardson, Lisa Richardson, Charles Sherman, Samuel Tucker, Robert Watson, Samuel Sprewell and David Fielder face RICO charges.

Several of the defendants also face theft by taking or bribery charges. While a majority of those accused were arrested in 2016, the criminal case only began to move forward in 2018 after a civil case was finalized.


Tax Deadline Coming Up This Wednesday

Millions of taxpayers are taking advantage of the IRS decision to push back the tax filing deadline due to the coronavirus pandemic. But with the new tax filing deadline of July 15 just days away, those taxpayers need to take some important steps now to get their returns — and payments — to the IRS before then.

Tax season is stressful for many consumers in the best of times, but 2020 has heightened those anxieties. Stay-at-home orders that stretched across the U.S. beginning in March made it more difficult to make in-person visits to tax preparers, while other taxpayers may be struggling with a number of life stressors, including lost income or dealing with COVID-19 illnesses in their families.

About 7.6 million fewer returns have been filed with the IRS as of mid-June compared with a year earlier, says Craig Richards, director of tax services at Fiduciary Trust International, citing IRS statistics. Tax preparers were “stymied because of working from home and not being able to access all of the resources they had while in their offices,” he notes.

Taxpayers need to take action before July 15 to avoid penalties from the IRS.

If you realize you won’t be ready to file by July 15, you have the option of filing an extension, which will provide an additional three months to file your tax return.

But there’s a catch: Even though an extension gives you until Oct. 15 to file, you’ll still have to pay any owed taxes by July 15.

If you fail to pay the IRS by July 15, even if you filed an extension, you’ll face penalties

Arrest Report - Sunday - July 12, 2020

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Sunday, July 12, 2020:

NGEMC To Hold Virtual Member Meeting

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North Georgia EMC’s 84th Annual Meeting will be the first of its kind in the history of the cooperative. The COVID-19 pandemic and subsequent guidelines regarding large gathers prompted the member-led Board of Directors to enact emergency provision to hold this year’s Annual Meeting entirely online.

The video presentation of the 2020 Annual Meeting will be hosted on their website, and member registration will be open from 8:00 a.m., Thursday, Aug. 6 until 5:00 p.m. Friday, Aug. 7. Members will be prompted to view the meeting video and approve the minutes when they register online.

A dedicated line will be available for members without internet access to listen in to the audio of the meeting and complete their registration by phone. For more information on this year’s annual meeting, please refer to the official notice and registration guidelines in the July edition of Georgia Magazine.

All registered members will be entered into a drawing for one of 84 bill credits or $84 on their September bill. The winners of the drawing will be contacted by letter, and the names of all drawing winners will be published in the October edition of Georgia Magazine.

The meeting will be held August 6th and 7th.

DNR Announces $1K Grant For Conservation Teacher

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is offering a $1,000 grant to a third-, fourth- or fifth-grade public or private school teacher in the state who demonstrates exceptional energy and innovation in teaching life sciences. Science specialists covering those grade levels can also apply.

The Conservation Teacher of the Year grant is coordinated by the Wildlife Conservation Section of DNR’s Wildlife Resources Division. Funding is provided by the section’s friends group, The Environmental Resources Network, better known as TERN.

Through education, research and management, the Wildlife Conservation Section works to safeguard Georgia’s native diversity of wild animals, plants and their habitats, while also striving to increase public enjoyment of the outdoors. The purpose of the grant is to recognize and help an outstanding teacher who uses Georgia’s native wildlife and habitats as the context for learning, explained Linda May, DNR outreach coordinator.

“Georgia is home to an amazing diversity of wildlife,” May said. “We want to support a talented teacher who highlights these natural wonders with his or her students in creative ways.”

This fall, another talented teacher will be selected to receive funding based on project design, evaluated through applicant answers to grant proposal questions. Projects that are especially creative and teach about Georgia’s rare or endangered species, as well as solid projects that have no other means of funding, will earn bonus points. Details at

Georgia Revenue Down $1 Billion

Division of Family and Children Services

On Friday,  Georgia’s state government released preliminary numbers showing that the state had more than a $1 billion drop in tax collections for fiscal year 2019-2020.

The exact amount of the budget shortfall won’t be known as state officials are still waiting delayed income tax receipts.

Georgia Governor Brian Kemp and the General Assembly have resisted raising taxes, choosing instead to dip into the state’s “rainy day fund”, which had $2.8 billion at the beginning of the fiscal year.

By statute, the state cannot run a budget deficit.  Experts say that it is not likely that the state’s shortfall in revenue will be less than $1 billion.

Workers Return To Mount Vernon Mills

The past several months have been difficult at best for Chattooga County’s largest employer, Mount Vernon Mills.  In addition to the economic pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic, the mill’s future under current ownership has been in question.

Residents across the area have been keeping up with the news about the mill after Mount Vernon announced the closing of their yarn mill in Northeast Georgia earlier this  year.  In Trion, yarn production stopped for the first time in the mill’s 175 year history.

Recently, a group of investors was reportedly looking at purchasing the mill.  Sources tell WZQZ News that that proposal has fallen through.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also played havoc with the mill’s production.  Many of the retailers that rely on the final product of cloth have been closed now for months.

For now, local officials at Mount Vernon Mills are optimistic about getting the mill back up and going and reports released over the past two days indicate that the purchasing of fire-retardant material may be seeing an increase in the coming weeks.

Summerville Facing Hefty Bills From County & Trion For Water

The Summerville City Council will be holding a meeting on Monday evening at 5 PM at Summerville City Hall.  According to an agenda released on Friday, the council will be asked to approve payments for bills the city has incurred purchasing water from neighboring water districts.

The city is currently purchasing water from the Town of Trion Water System to supply Hays State Prison in Pennville.  That bill totaled $14,515.60 for the month of June.  The city also owes a bill to the Chattooga County Water District for water that is being purchased to supply Summerville City Water customers on the eastern side of the city’s service area.  The city owes the county water system $16,166.97 for the month of June.

Council members will spend a good deal of time on water issues at Monday’s meeting as the city continues to try to bring their water system up to EPA standards.

The public is invited to attend Monday evening’s meeting.

Arrest Report - Saturday - July 11, 2020

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Saturday, July 11, 2020:

Chattooga County State Court Resumes Monday At Courthouse Annex

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Chattooga County State Court Judge Jon Dennis says that State Court will resume at the courthouse annex on Monday.

Judge Dennis says no more than 14 people will be allowed inside the courtroom at one time. That courtroom is in the Annex–the same building where tags are bought and taxes are paid–that is, where State Court is normally held, and it is not in the main courtroom, where we held court last month.

Dennis says, “I ask your indulgence and your consideration as many may have to wait outside and enter in shifts. (Maintain social distancing whether inside or outside.) If you are a defendant appearing for arraignment, you are not to bring friends or relatives. We ask that you come alone.

Before entering, all persons will have their temperatures taken and will be given a mask. This mask will be worn properly (covering both nose and mouth) at all times while inside the courthouse.

Dennis said, “Please be advised that my goal is to keep all our citizens safe and healthy. We had a good session last month. We hope to have another good two days, on Monday and Tuesday. I thank you in advance for all your help and for your understanding.”

Lawmakers Consider Legislation To Eliminate Georgia's "Citizen Arrest" Law

The Georgia House Judiciary Non-Civil Committee, which has jurisdiction over Georgia’s criminal laws, is scheduled to meet Monday to hear testimony on the state’s citizen’s arrest law.

As the legislature wrapped up its 2020 session late last month, House Speaker David Ralston, (R-Blue Ridge), said legislation introduced by state Rep. Carl Gilliard, (D-Garden City), aimed at eliminating citizen’s arrests in Georgia, was worth serious consideration.

The right of Georgians to make a citizen’s arrest was at the heart of the fatal shooting last February of Ahmaud Arbery, a 25-year-old black man gunned down while jogging on a street near Brunswick. Three white men, including a father and son, were arrested and charged with murder after a video of the incident surfaced in April.

Gilliard’s bill was among more than a dozen criminal justice and policing reform measures that were filed last month when the legislature returned to the Capitol after lawmakers took three months off to discourage the spread of coronavirus.

During a news conference to call attention to his bill, Gilliard said the citizen’s arrest law is outdated and gives untrained civilians a reason to perpetrate violence in the name of law enforcement.

GNN / Compiled Sources

Tennessee Aquarium & Imax Theater Reopening Next Week

The Tennessee Aquarium and Imax Theater will reopen next Friday.  The popular Chattanooga venues are reminding visitors about Hamilton County, Tennesee’s mask policy during the COVID-19 pandemic.

WZQZ News received a press release yesterday saying, “On Friday, July 17, we will be ready to safely welcome you back to the Tennessee Aquarium IMAX Theater. When the cutting-edge IMAX with Laser projection system springs to life, the auditorium’s six-story screen will be the only option in Chattanooga, and film fans will be able to experience three recent fan-favorites”:

Turtle Odyssey
Superpower Dogs
Great Barrier Reef

The theater’s return to operation will be accompanied by new safety measures including:

  • masks required for all IMAX visitors and staff
  • limiting screenings to 50 people each (There are nearly 400 seats in the theater.)
  • extra time between each showing for theater cleaning

Georgia Power Offers Energy Saving Tips

With temperatures heating up across Georgia this summer and more families spending time closer to home due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Georgia Power encourages customers to minimize the impact of increased energy use on electric bills by following simple efficiency tips.

Additionally, the company’s fuel rate reductions of approximately $10.26 per month this summer and a bill credit of $11.29 last month for a typical residential customer using an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours a month are providing direct relief on summer bills. The company is also offering energy assistance programs to help those in need.

Tips, Tools & Resources

Whether customers own a home or rent, tailored tips are available at, which also includes access to a free Online Energy Checkup and a variety of rebates and incentives for both homes and businesses.

Georgia Power’s My Power Usage program, a free service connected to many Georgia Power online accounts, allows customers to track their daily energy use, project their monthly bill, and set daily or monthly usage alerts.

Simple tips focused on savings as the summer heats up, include:

  • Set it for the season: Set thermostats to 78 degrees and use fans to keep you feeling cooler. For every degree higher you maintain your thermostat, you can see up to a 3-4% decrease in energy use.
  • Feel the flow; free your filters: Clean or change your air filters monthly. Dirty filters can block airflow, making your system work harder to keep you comfortable. Clear spaces around your air returns and vents to prevent airflow blockage.
  • Phase out phantom energy loss: Unplug your electronic devices when not in use and use smart power strips. Consider energy-saving settings, which are often available on newer equipment and appliances.
  • Manage your spin cycle: When washing clothes, try to wash and dry full loads only, and in cold water.
  • Cool down the kitchen: Use your oven sparingly. Consider cooking options such as the microwave, slow cookers and outdoor grills.
  • Fill your fridge: Solids and liquids are easier to cool than air. Try to keep your refrigerator set to the temperature recommended by the manufacturer for optimal performance.
  • Keep the heat out: Close your curtains and blinds during peak hours of the day to keep the sun’s heat out.

Relief on summer bills

On May 28, the Georgia Public Service Commission (PSC) approved Georgia Power’s plan to reduce its fuel rates by 17.2 percent and total billings by approximately $740 million over a two-year period. The implementation of a special interim reduction will provide customers additional relief during the COVID-19 pandemic through even lower fuel rates over the summer months. The lower fuel rate and special interim reduction will lower the total bill of a typical residential customer using an average of 1,000 kilowatt-hours by a total of $10.26 per month from June through September 2020.

Georgia Power also announced last month that the typical residential customer using 1,000 kilowatt-hours would receive an $11.29 credit on their June Georgia Power bill. This reflected implementation of a one-time $51.5 million credit for customers, also approved by the PSC.

Energy Assistance Programs
Georgia Power partners with nonprofit, community and faith-based organizations to offer assistance programs to those in need. These programs include:

  • Georgia Power’s Senior Citizen Discount – Georgia Power customers 65 years of age or older who meet the income requirements for eligibility can receive up to $24 a month off their bill.
  • Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) – Georgia Power supports the Division of Family & Children Services to help qualifying, low-income households pay their home energy bills.
  • The Salvation Army’s Project SHARE – Established in partnership with The Salvation Army, Georgia Power customers can provide assistance to residents in the same community for expenses, such as utility bills, housing, food and medical necessities.

Visit for more information.


Solar Power Company Seeks Property In Summerville

Inman Solar Logo

A solar power supplier is expected to make a presentation to the Summerville City Council next week.  Inman Solar, a commercial solar power supplier, will have a representative at Monday’s council meeting.

According to the company’s web site, Inman Solar is a Southeast-based company that specializes in designing and installing commercial and utility-scale solar power systems.  The company says, “Our customers are business owners and investors, and we focus on helping them capture incentives that make solar a smart business investment. We don’t just design, build, and engineer systems – we own and operate several solar assets ourselves. And we’re certified by the National American Board of Certified Energy Practitioners, who sets the standard for solar installations.”

According to the agenda for Monday’s meeting, Chris Cates from Inman Solar will make a presentation concerning property at the Summerville Industrial Park.


Arrest Report - Friday July 10, 2020

Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Friday July 10, 2020: