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‘I WILL NEVER DO DRUGS BECAUSE OF ALL I HAVE LOST, AND I HOPE YOU WON’T EITHER’

Gabriel Benjamin of Tunnel Hill Elementary prompts emotional response from audience with his first-place DARE essay at 12th annual recognition program sponsored by Whitfield Sheriff’s Office, Kiwanis Club of Dalton

By MITCH TALLEY

Gabriel Benjamin brought the audience to its feet – and a tear to the eyes of his listeners – after reading his award-winning essay at the 12th annual DARE (Drug Abuse Resistance Education) recognition program held May 15 at the Dalton Trade Center.

Gabriel Benjamin of Tunnel Hill Elementary receives a standing ovation after reading his first-place DARE essay during the annual recognition program. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

“I will never do drugs because of all I have lost, and I hope you won’t either,” the Tunnel Hill Elementary fifth-grader wrote in his essay. “I am lucky to have a father who chose me over drugs, but I know there are some children who are put into foster homes with strangers and will never see their real family ever again because of drugs, either because they can’t quit or they’re in jail for a very long time.”

Benjamin’s essay was  honored as the best out of the hundreds written by this year’s DARE graduates from 13 elementary schools in the county.

“Can you imagine the courage that it takes to write an essay like this when you’re 10 years old?” emcee Terry Phelps asked the audience after listening to Benjamin  read his essay. “Wow! Great job!”

Benjamin (who has since turned 11 in February) and the other school-level winners were recognized and treated to a buffet lunch by the Kiwanis Club of Dalton and the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office.

As first-place winner for the county, Benjamin received a wooden plaque and a $100 cash prize. Arianna

The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office and the Kiwanis Club of Dalton honored these fifth graders for writing the top DARE essays in their schools during the 12th annual DARE recognition program May 15 at the Dalton Trade Center. Pictured are (from left, front row) Rylie Pinson, Pleasant Grove Elementary; Octavia Woodward, Valley Point; Tina Quintanilla, Cedar Ridge, third place; Sandra Ramirez, Varnell; Rachel Mason, Cohutta; Tristyn Sutton, New Hope; Gabriel Benjamin, Tunnel Hill, first place; Abby Stanley, Antioch; Danahi Reza, Dug Gap; Litzy Reyes, Dawnville; Shea Poe, Beaverdale; and Amaya Cruz, Eastside; (back row) DARE leader Lt. Wayne Mathis, Deputies Nathan Center and Ron Kirby, Sgt. Tammy Silvers, Sheriff Scott Chitwood, and Sgt. Darlene Crider. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Garcia of Westside, second-place winner and recipient of a plaque and $50 cash, was not able to attend the program because she has transferred to a school in another county. Tina Quintanilla of Cedar Ridge received a plaque and $20 cash for her third-place essay.

Other school-level winners who were recognized during the program – with family, school officials, and Kiwanians looking on – included:

  • Rylie Pinson, Pleasant Grove
  • Octavia Woodward, Valley Point
  • Sandra Ramirez, Varnell
  • Rachel Mason, Cohutta
  • Tristyn Sutton, New Hope
  • Abby Stanley, Antioch
  • Danahi Reza, Dug Gap
  • Litzy Reyes, Dawnville
  • Shea Poe, Beaverdale
  • Amaya Cruz, Eastside

E’lan Watson, who won the DARE essay contest in 2010 while at Varnell Elementary, returned to talk about how DARE has continued to influence her life, even as she is slated to graduate from The Baylor School in June and head to Auburn University in the fall where she plans a double major in Spanish and Business Analytics.

“This time seven years ago I was sitting in this room about to read my DARE essay for the county competition,” Watson recalled. “When I won I was of course overwhelmed with feelings of pride and joy and excitement because I accomplished something that was so important to me. I wanted to win primarily because my older sister won two years before me.

E’lan Watson, who wrote the first-place DARE essay as a fifth grader from Varnell Elementary School in 2010 , returned to talk at this year’s recognition program about how DARE has continued to influence her life. She is slated to graduate in June from The Baylor School. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

“But now I realize that my DARE experience was much more than a contest,” she said. “DARE has been an extremely important part of my life. It’s more than a program about substance abuse; it teaches important life skills like decision-making. It has completely altered the way I make decisions and approach situations.”

Watson said she even used DARE to write her college essay.

“The essay question was similar for all applications: tell a story of an event that has changed your life and turned you into the person that you are today. I immediately thought of the DARE program. I remember making a promise to Officer Silvers and myself to remain completely drug and alcohol free, and I have no intentions of ever breaking my vital promise. I think the most important thing I’ve learned from this entire experience is that knowledge is power. There’s a quote that I love by Anton Chekhov that reads: ‘Knowledge is of no value unless you put it into practice.’

“I think that’s important to keep in mind, especially for the fifth graders that are about to start this really exciting journey into middle school,” Watson said. “Remember what you learned and don’t be afraid to teach others the value of the DARE program. Also don’t be afraid to say no.”

Jarrod Wright, a student at Southeast Whitfield High School, spoke about his role as a state representative for the youth advisory board for the DARE program and offered words of encouragement to the fifth graders.

E’lan Watson, who wrote the first-place DARE essay as a fifth grader from Varnell Elementary School in 2010 (shown reading that essay seven years ago), returned to talk at this year’s recognition program about how DARE has continued to influence her life. She is slated to graduate in June from The Baylor School. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

“As you go through your life, things will get tough and you’ve got to make sure that just because you wrote an essay doesn’t mean that you’re automatically drug free,” Wright said. “You have to make that promise to yourself and keep going with it all the way through your whole life, really.”

Sheriff Scott Chitwood said that over the past 26 years, the DARE program has reached more than 26,000 youngsters. “As I said at graduation, are we making a difference? I think so because if we save one life, that was worth it,” he said.

The sheriff thanked County School Superintendent Dr. Judy Gilreath and the schools for allowing the DARE instructors to come onto their campuses and teach the DARE program. He praised the school-level winners, saying “these are products of the Whitfield County School System. These are outstanding young men and women, and I’m proud to be a part of it.”

DARE instructor Sgt. Tammy Silvers said the program “is all about the kids, and them putting forth that effort and making that commitment to us that they’re going to stay drug free and they’re going to make good choices in their lives. That’s going to lead to a good track in life.

“If you want to be successful in life,” she said, “you have to follow through and think about the things you are doing in making good choices, choosing your friends wisely. That’s what this is all about is laying that foundation for these kids to make good choices in life.”

She called the essay winners “the cream of the crop,” but pointed out that their victory is just the beginning of their journey. “This is where you take your knowledge and you use it for the rest of your life,” she said, “and you start making those good choices and it’s an everyday thing. You have to do it for the rest of your life.”

Fellow instructor Sgt. Darlene Crider called the essay winners “the leaders” of their schools.

“You see where all these adults are sitting today?” she said. “You may be sitting in one of these places one day or even something else that is your dream. You follow your dreams, but in order to get there, you have to make good decisions and we said that over and over and over in class. You can make one bad decision in your life and it’ll follow you the rest of your life. We don’t want that to happen, so start here.

“You’re going to middle school and on to high school and college,” Crider said, “and do whatever it is that you want to do in life. So you have to start somewhere – you just started, you made a great decision, you wrote a good essay, and  you’ve promised everyone that was sitting in your classroom, your teachers, your principals, your officers, and  your friends, most of all yourself.

“I say this to my students: who is going to be with you for the rest of your lives? Not us. We will be supporting you, and we’ll be there if you need us. But you will be everywhere you are for the rest of your life, so it has to be your decision and if you make a bad one, you’ll stand accountable for that decision. So make good ones.”

 

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WHITFIELD AGENCIES JOIN FORCES TO CARRY TORCH FOR SPECIAL OLYMPICS

By MITCH TALLEY

Whitfield County Director of Communications

Participants in the annual Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Special Olympics Torch Run gathered on the steps of the new facility at the Training Center on Old Prater’s Mill Road. Runners from the Sheriff’s Office, Fire Department, and Department of Juvenile Justice took part in the fundraiser for State Special Olympics on May 10, including (from left, front row) Amber Hayes, Isabelle Beltran, and Allen Gallman; (second row) Brittany Martin, Susan Edgeworth, Jason Phillips, and Amy Phillips; (third row) Jewell Jackson, Sheila Caldwell, Ambur Gibson, and Tammy Silvers; (back row) Wayne Mathis, Lisa Hughey, John Jancewicz, Marcia Pfister, Chris West, Darlene Crider, Nathan Center, Albert Hill, and Ron Kirby. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

The annual Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office Special Olympics Torch Run on May 10 featured some new twists this year, but the end goal remained the same.

“It’s all about the kids,” said Lt. Wayne Mathis, who is the only person in Georgia to have run in all 30 Torch Runs and even took part three times before that in a Special Olympics event sponsored by Sam’s Club in which senior citizens drove campers.

This year, Mathis joined 17 other men and women from the Sheriff’s Office, Whitfield County Fire Department, and Department of Juvenile Justice (District 1) in the Torch Run.

After departing from the old jail downtown for years, this time the runners left from the Whitfield County Training Center on Old Prater’s Mill Road, just outside the new building that was having sod and bushes installed on the morning of the run.

The new nine-mile route led the runners west on Old Prater’s Mill Road onto Cleveland Highway and then Ga. 2, where they made a left turn into Varnell Elementary School. Hundreds of youngsters and teachers lined both sides of the driveway into the school, exchanging cheers and high fives with the runners, who took a water break before heading back onto Ga. 2 on their way to more cheers at Beaverdale Elementary and ending the day at the Murray County line.

The mission of Special Olympics Georgia is to provide year-round sports training and athletic competition in a variety of Olympic-type sports for children and adults with intellectual disabilities, giving them continuing opportunities to develop physical fitness, demonstrate courage, experience joy, and participate in a sharing of gifts, skills, and friendship with their families, other Special Olympics athletes, and the community.

Special Olympics Georgia hosted its annual State Summer Games for almost 3,000 athletes, coaches, and unified partners on May 19-21 at Emory University. Athletes will compete in aquatics, athletics, flag football, gymnastics, soccer, table tennis, tennis, and volleyball, with medals awarded throughout the weekend.

Students and teachers cheer for the Special Olympics Torch Run participants as they pass through the driveway at Varnell Elementary School. (Photos by Mitch Talley).

Leading up to the games, law enforcement officers from agencies all over Georgia teamed up with SOGA in a 1,000-mile torch relay across the state. The “Flame of Hope” lit the cauldron at the Opening Ceremony to signify the opening of the games.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run for Special Olympics, the largest grassroots fundraising program for the cause, began in 1981 when Wichita, Kan., Police Chief Richard LaMunyon saw an urgent need to raise funds for and increase awareness of Special Olympics.

The idea for the Torch Run was to provide local law enforcement officers with an opportunity to

volunteer with Special Olympics in the communities where the officers lived and worked. After three years of successful runs in Kansas, Chief LaMunyon presented his idea to the International Association of Chiefs of Police, which endorsed Special Olympics as its official charity through the Torch Run. Today, all 50 states and more than 40 countries have their own versions of the Torch Run.

The Law Enforcement Torch Run is the largest annual fundraising event benefiting Special Olympics Georgia. This signature event plays a significant role in Special Olympics Georgia’s annual budget.

The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office continues to offer Special Olympics Torch Run T-shirts and caps for sale. If you’d like to make a contribution or a purchase, contact Sgt. Tammy Silvers at the Sheriff’s Office at 706-279-1879.

Jewell Jackson of the Department of Juvenile Justice is all smiles as she runs past students at Varnell Elementary School during the Special Olympics Torch Run. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Lt. Wayne Mathis of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office (second from right) marked his 30th Special Olympics Torch Run this year, still the only person in Georgia to have participated in all 30. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

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WHITFIELD/MURRAY JUVENILE COURT JUDGE BLAYLOCK RETIRING MAY 31 AFTER 21 YEARS

By MITCH TALLEY

Whitfield County Director of Communications

Soon to be retired Juvenile Court Judge Connie Blaylock (left) looks over a file with deputy clerk Tina Curtis. The judge’s last day before retirement will be May 31. (Photo by Mitch Talley).

Nearly 21 years of serving as the only full-time juvenile court judge ever for Whitfield and Murray counties will come to a close for Judge Connie Blaylock on May 31.

Blaylock announced recently she will be retiring at the end of this month from the post to which she was appointed by Superior Court judges in 1996.

“I started part-time in July 1996 and went full-time in January 1997,” she said, sitting in her office on the lower floor of the Whitfield County Courthouse, “and I’ve been here ever since.”

Blaylock originally earned a master’s degree and worked as a sales rep for Phillip Morris for about 6½ years before deciding to go back to the University of Georgia to earn a law degree. After practicing as an attorney for another 6½ years doing real estate, domestic, and juvenile court-appointed work, she was named part-time associate juvenile court judge, which quickly morphed into a full-time job.

“What had been happening was that the Superior Court judges were taking a week a month and in addition to doing their Superior Court work, they were also covering Juvenile Court,” Blaylock explained. “But the caseload had gotten to the point by 1996 that it just wasn’t feasible for them to do that anymore.”

The caseload has grown so much that Blaylock says she now holds court four days a week every week, three days in Whitfield and one day in Murray.

She says that part of the duty for the local Juvenile Court  – which has a staff of 13 employees in Whitfield County and three in Murray County – is hearing all of the cases for anybody under age 17 accused of breaking the law, in what are known as delinquent cases.

“We also hear all of the cases for anybody under 18 who is now what we call a child in need of services,” Blaylock said. “They may be truant from school or they’re having problems out in the community that wouldn’t bring you or I before the court because of our age but they’re having some sort of school issue or parent authority issue or they need some sort of court intervention, typically for truancy. We also hear all of the traffic violation cases for anybody under 18.”

Ironically, the cases that make up the smallest percentage of the court’s workload take up most of the judge’s time – those involving abuse or neglect to children.

Blaylock described her work as juvenile court judge over the past 21 years as “very frustrating” yet “very rewarding” at times.

“It’s meaningful – I mean you feel like you’re making a difference,” she said. “You hear some really bad things, and it’s very frustrating because there are never enough resources. But it also can be very rewarding. I had an email today from a young lady I’d had before my court, and she told me she’s been in the military, married, got kids, out of the military now, getting her college degree.

“Those kind of stories,” Blaylock says, “are few and far between, unfortunately. We don’t always take people from A to Z; sometimes we’re happy getting them from point A to point F or G. You have to take your successes where you can get them. Sometimes not going to prison is a success. I ran into a young man outside the courthouse a few weeks ago, and he told me he wanted to thank me because I saved his life. I said, I don’t know about that but I’m glad we were able to help. He said he works for one of the mills here and has kept and maintained a steady job and has not been to prison, so that’s a success.”

How to gauge success is a point she stresses when she helps train volunteers with the CASA program (advocates for children) or the citizen’s panel (which reviews foster care cases).

“I always tell the volunteers you have to take your successes where they come,” she said. “You know, everybody’s not going to automatically straighten up and fly right just because they walk through our doors and everybody’s not going to live how we as middle-class Americans would prefer that they live.”

She doesn’t enjoy having to remove children from their homes because of abuse or neglect by their parents but says there is “a basic minimum” standard that society expects all parents to meet, with drug or alcohol abuse usually the culprit for parents failing to meet that minimum.

Those hearings related to parental neglect or abuse are now open to the public by virtue of a 2014 law, and Blaylock says that that public access allows other family members sometimes in the dark to get a more accurate picture of what has gone on to cause their children, grandchildren, nieces, nephews, or others to be involved with the court and a more accurate picture of what Mom and Dad are – or are not – doing to get them back.

With retirement now just days away, Blaylock will soon be turning her caseload over to a new judge, who will be selected by the local Superior Court judges. Applicants must be a licensed attorney with at least six years of practicing law, a resident of the state, and live in the circuit once appointed.

Blaylock will be honored for her service to area children during a retirement party in the vending area on the main floor of the Whitfield County Courthouse on May 31 from 1 to 4 p.m. The public is invited.

While the judge says she is “excited” and “looking forward” to her retirement, she adds “I’ll miss it and I’ll miss the people, but I don’t think I’ll miss the stress.”

WHAT IS JUVENILE COURT?

The Whitfield County Juvenile Court is an independent juvenile court organized under Chapter 11 of Title 15 of the Official Code of Georgia. The Court is dedicated to serving the residents of Whitfield County and Murray County by hearing all cases involving allegations of dependency, unruly conduct and traffic violations of children under the age of 18 years, delinquency matters or concerning children under the age of 17 found within its jurisdiction. If, after adjudication, a child is found to be in need of treatment, rehabilitation or supervision to safely remain in the community, the court will provide access to appropriate treatment programs whenever feasible.

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Scholarship To Dalton Student, Success In Bilingual World

Hernandez’ Work In Community Leads To Help Getting To College

“Dalton Rotary Club member Rob Bradham presented Morris Innovative High School senior Marco Hernandez with the Dalton Rotary Club “Service Above All” Award earlier this month. Hernandez plans to attend Georgia Northwestern Technical College this fall.”

(Whitfield County, Georgia) When Morris Innovative High School senior Marco Hernandez walks across the graduation stage in Dalton, Georgia May 26, it’s not just a diploma he’ll be leaving high school with. A historic sense of pride will accompany Hernandez as he will become the first person in his family to graduate from high school.

Paving the way for his five brothers and sisters to succeed, organizations in the Dalton, Georgia area have decided to do the same for him. To help with collegiate expenses, the First Bank of Dalton, in partnership with the Roman Open Charities, has awarded Hernandez $500. He was also awarded the Roman Open Charities Scholarship for $1,000. Also, the Dalton Rotary Club awarded the soon-to-be 2017 high school graduate with their “Service Above Self” Award.

Hernandez, 19, plans to take his first classes at Georgia Northwestern Technical College later this year. The Dalton, Georgia resident plans to build a life helping others in need. “I really want to be a social worker with families and schools,” said Hernandez. “But, I really want to have a non-profit organization that would help the homeless and the children of new families that move into the area. Giving back to my community by doing social work is the best way I can think of to begin my life.”

Beyond his academics, Hernandez has actively worked with the Greater Dalton Chamber of Commerce, the Northwest Georgia Healthcare Partnership, and the Dalton City Schools Central Office. “I want to work with people and help them see their potential,” said Hernandez.

One of Hernandez’ many passions is working with the Translation Academy at Morris Innovative High School. Hernandez, along with many other students, helps assist anyone who speaks Spanish fluently, but not English. The Academy helps train not only the importance of being bilingual, but also the importance of being an active part of the community around you. Nearly half of the residents in Dalton, Georgia are Hispanic. “I just want to be able to help the businesses and the people in the community, too,” said Hernandez.

The Translation Academy was launched five years ago by Paige Watts, a Spanish instructor with Dalton City Schools. “During their time in the Translation Academy, students realize their value to the community, the vast opportunities that are available to them, as well as how to pursue their future goals,” said Watts. The academy works with students and adults in the community, alike. More than 60-percent of the students in the Dalton City School system are Hispanic.

With the support of his parents, Joaquin and Marisol Hernandez, the future Georgia Northwestern freshman says it’s been a real team effort for him to get where he is today. “Just all of the teachers and staff at the school, as well as the organizations that I have got to work with, have really helped me decide to pursue this career,” said Hernandez. “I’m just thankful and plan to take full advantage of all of this.”  

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 14,151 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,956 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 6,195 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.  For more information about GNTC, visit us at GNTC.edu or contact a Student Help Center on any one of our six campus locations at 866-983-4682.  For information online, visit the college at GNTC.edu, as well as on GNTC’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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Governor Approves Expansion For Georgia Northwestern

Whitfield Murray Campus To Add New 80,000-square foot facility

“One of several drawings of what developers have in store for the brand new campus building for Georgia Northwestern Technical College. The new addition to GNTC’s Whitfield Murray Campus in Dalton, Georgia is tentatively scheduled to be completed by late 2018.”

(Whitfield County, Georgia) Opportunity for technical education in Whitfield and Murray Counties received a tremendous boast on May 1, 2017, with the approval of funding for the construction of a new class room and industrial lab building on the Whitfield Murray campus of Georgia Northwestern Technical College.

On Monday, Governor Nathan Deal signed off on the State of Georgia’s Fiscal Year 2018 budget. Included in the legislation is $18.7 million to build a 75,000-square foot facility located on the GNTC campus serving Whitfield and Murray Counties. This will be the first new construction on the Whitfield Murray campus of GNTC since the establishment of the campus in 2010. The addition of the new building was made possible in large part by the transfer of approximately 23 acres of land to the Technical College System of Georgia by the Whitfield County School Board. The donation of land will allow the college to expand classroom space adjacent to the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy and enhance opportunities for high school and college students to develop the occupational skills and knowledge needed by area business and industry. GNTC has received tremendous support from Governor Nathan Deal, state elected officials, local elected officials, the Dalton-Whitfield County Chamber of Commerce, the Whitfield County School System, area businesses, local industry and the entire community since the opening of the campus.

“For more than a decade, access to a wide range of technical career education opportunities has been lacking in our communities,” said Joe Yarbrough, President of the Carpet and Rug Institute. “Georgia Northwestern Technical College has demonstrated that it has the ability to respond quickly to the needs of the business community. GNTC is the entity that has proven its ability to offer the educational programs needed to develop the skills required to fill the gaps.”

Pending the approval of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools Commission on Colleges, programs at the college’s latest construction may include Business Administrative Technology, Chemical Technology, CNC/Machine Tool, Computer Information Systems, Criminal Justice, Diesel Mechanic, Early Childhood Care and Education, Electronics, Engineering Technology, Health Information Technology, Industrial Systems, Logistics, and Welding.

Now that the funding has been awarded, a groundbreaking for the expansion will take place this summer. College administrators are hopeful they will be able to begin moving into the new building in the latter half of 2018. The new addition may possibly host its first classes in late 2018 or early 2019. Growth is expected to take place quickly, though. Since hosting its first classes five years ago, the WMC student body is now four times larger than it was in year one.

“The Whitfield Murray Campus is seeing very big growth in a short amount of time,” said Pete McDonald, President of Georgia Northwestern Technical College. “We could see enrollment at the campus grow to 4,000 students within the next five to ten years.” The WMC shares the current campus site with the Northwest Georgia College and Career Academy on Maddox Chapel Road in Dalton, Georgia.

With its unofficial title of “The Carpet Capital of the World,” the city’s companies see the importance of this next step in Dalton; not only for companies already in operation, but for the companies who may be looking for a new site to do business. “The expansion of Georgia Northwestern will enable the current and future workforce to develop the highly technical skills necessary to succeed within the flooring industry and other manufacturing fields,” said David Morgan, Vice-President of Manufacturing of Shaw Industries Group, Incorporated.

Administrators are anticipating more growth among high school students, too, as a result. GNTC is among the best when it comes to enrolling and educating the area’s teenagers by way of the “Move On When Ready” (MOWR) program. Expanding the WMC, a campus which currently sits next door to the Northwest Georgia Career and College Academy, will help expose more students to the program. MOWR helps Georgia’s high school students earn college credit at no cost to them or their families.

“Ultimately, to bring jobs to the area, we need to have something like this,” said Vann Brown, a member of the GNTC Board of Directors. The WMC is one of six campuses the college offers in Northwest Georgia. The others are located in Catoosa County, Floyd County, Gordon County, Polk County, and Walker County, Georgia. Currently, GNTC offers more than 200 programs to nearly 6,000 students on-campus and online. GNTC has offered programs across the region for more than 50 years.

Georgia Northwestern Technical College provides quality workforce education to the citizens of Northwest Georgia. Students have the opportunity to earn an associate degree, diploma, or a certificate in business, health, industrial, or public service career paths. This past year, 14,151 people benefited from GNTC’s credit and noncredit programs. With an annual credit enrollment of 7,956 students, GNTC is the largest college in Northwest Georgia. GNTC has an additional enrollment of 6,195 people through adult education, continuing education, business and industry training, and Georgia Quick Start.  For more information about GNTC, visit us at GNTC.edu or contact a Student Help Center on any one of our six campus locations at 866-983-4682.  For information online, visit the college at GNTC.edu, as well as on GNTC’s Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, Google+, WordPress, and YouTube channels. GNTC is a unit of the Technical College System of Georgia and an Equal Opportunity Institution.

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Man Charged With Kidnapping After Grabbing Children At Park

By Bruce Frazier:

The Dalton Police Department arrested 48-year old Jeffrey Melvin Bishop Wednesday evening on charges that included kidnapping after parents and children at Al Rollins Park reported that Bishop was harassing children on the playground. Witnesses say Bishop touched at least two children, grabbing one boy by the arms from behind and holding him against his will until the boy’s father intervened.

The incident happened shortly after 6:00 pm at Al Rollins Park on Threadmill Road. Witnesses reported that a white male, later identified as Jeffrey Bishop, started approaching kids in the playground area. One family told police that Bishop was chasing their 3-year old daughter around near a swing set, telling the girl she was pretty and to come to him. The girl’s mother told him to leave. The girl’s mother also reported that she saw Bishop touch another boy before he approached her daughter, but that boy and his family left the park before officers arrived. A short time later, Bishop approached a group of boys and tried to talk to them, but the boys ignored him. A 10-year old boy told officers that Bishop grabbed him by the wrist and tried to get him to go into the woods with him. The boy refused. Bishop then grabbed a 9-year old boy by his arms as he was tying his shoes. The boy struggled but could not get away until his father confronted Bishop, telling him that police were being called. Bishop then turned and ran away towards Thornton Avenue.

Responding Dalton officers were able to get a description of Bishop and located him a short distance away walking on Thornton Avenue near Cedar Street. Officers determined that he was intoxicated. After interviewing witnesses further, officers arrested Bishop and charged him with battery, kidnapping, false imprisonment, cruelty to children in the first degree, and pedestrian under the influence. At the jail, Bishop was also served with a Whitfield County warrant for failure to appear.

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Regents Approve 2% Tuition Increase for Dalton State

DALTON–(April 18)–The Georgia Board of Regents Tuesday approved a 2 percent tuition increase for Dalton State College for fiscal year 2018. Tuition and mandatory fees for an in-state student taking 15 credit hours at Dalton State will rise $48 per semester from $2,058 this year to $2,106 next year. Included is a modest increase in the school’s athletic fee which will rise from $83 per student per semester to $100.

Out-of-state tuition will rise from $5,661 for 15 semester hours to $5,774.

The modest increase follows a year when tuition rates were not raised at all by the BOR, and Dalton State’s fees increased by only $30 a semester to fund a new student health center.

“With the generous support of the governor and legislature, we continue to focus on college affordability, while providing quality education,” said Steve Wrigley, chancellor of the University System of Georgia. “Keeping tuition increases to a minimum allows the University System to provide a quality education balanced with the critical need to keep public higher education affordable.”

“We believe the rich educational experience we offer our students is an outstanding value given our low tuition and fees,” said Dalton State President Dr. Margaret Venable. “We take our access mission very seriously and work hard to keep high quality college education within the economic grasp of families in the northwest Georgia region.”

The USG continues to offer some of the lowest tuition rates among peer state public higher education systems. Out of the 16 states that make up the Southern Regional Education Board, the USG has now become the sixth lowest state in tuition and fees for four-year institutions.

In addition, the USG will cut its online core curriculum (e-Core) tuition rate from $169 per credit hour to $159 for FY18. The University System also provides free, open-source, online e-textbooks through the Affordable Learning Georgia initiative. Last year the USG was ranked by national publisher Open Stax at Rice University as number one in the nation of any school or school system for saving students the most money by providing free textbooks worth more than $3.5 million in 2016.

For the past five years, Dalton State has been named among the country’s most affordable four-year colleges by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Affordability and Transparency Center.

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LONG DAY, NIGHT FOR CROWE WHEN ACCIDENT CUTS OFF POWER AT JAIL

14-year maintenance veteran played a key role in repair efforts that lasted till 3 in the morning. For his efforts, he’s been named Whitfield County Employee of the Month for March.

 

By MITCH TALLEY

Whitfield County Director of Communications

 

Billy Crowe

Working in the maintenance department at the Whitfield County Jail isn’t a 9-to-5 job.

Billy Crowe knows that first hand, but he’s not complaining.

In fact, on March 29, a backhoe operator hit one of the main power lines at the jail while working on a drainage problem, causing all of the power to be lost at the correctional center except for what the backup generator could provide.

The accident happened at 1:10 p.m.

Crowe and his partner responded quickly to the scene and determined what would be needed to make the repairs and restore power.  A local industrial supply house agreed to stay open late to make sure all of the parts would be available, and a local electrical contractor was called in to use his expertise in this type of problem to oversee the repairs.

A local industrial supply house agreed to stay open late to make sure all of the parts would be available, and a local electrical contractor was called in to use his expertise in this type of problem to oversee the repairs.

The work began by having to cut the destroyed 225-amp circuit breaker out of the switch box and then pulling out the old wire and replacing it with new wire. This process took a considerable amount of time.

“Billy was on the end of the wire feeding it into the conduit,” said Lt. Emmit Tate of the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office. “This is the important end of the wire because whoever feeds it into the conduit has to insure that the wire does not get skinned as it goes in. Billy fed all 360 feet of this wire into the conduit by himself. An officer had an inmate work crew out feeding Billy the wire as Billy fed it into the conduit. This was a tedious,  hard, and very exhausting job, but it was done without complaint.”

In fact, it was very late before any of the maintenance personnel got anything to eat for an evening meal, according to Tate.

Their efforts paid off when power was restored at 3 a.m., nearly 14 hours after the accident.

“By approximately 3:30, tools had been put up, doors locked up, and the generator had shut itself down,” Tate said. “The maintenance crew was then back at the jail by 8 a.m. for the beginning of their work shift.”

Throughout the month of March, Crowe also replaced all of the vent fan motors in the housing areas of the jail and is now working on the same in the rest of the jail.

“Billy is also on call every other week, which is more often than most county employees,” Tate said. “Billy is very good natured and gets along well with his co-workers.”

For those efforts, Tate successfully nominated Crowe for Whitfield County Employee of the Month for March. To help local residents get to know him better, Crowe filled out the following fun questionnaire.

Name: Billy Crowe

Job title: Maintenance

Time with the county: 14 years

Where I went to high school: Cedar Valley

My role as a county employee: Maintenance tech at Whitfield County Correctional Center

What keeps my job interesting: The people I work with

What gives me a sense of accomplishment on the job: Knowing it’s all done

Where I grew up: Whitfield County

Family: Wife Sherry Crowe, son Brian Crowe

After work, I enjoy: Spending time with my family and working on lawn mowers.

Favorite TV show: Westerns/Lonesome Dove

Favorite meal: Steak and potato

Favorite Whitfield County restaurant: Longhorn

Favorite Whitfield County event: Parade

You can pick anyone from any time in history to have dinner with – who would you pick? Johnny Cash and John Wayne

I’m most proud of: My son, Brian

Cats or dogs? Dogs (we have eight)

Cake or pie? Cheesecake/pineapple upside down cake

Favorite car? ’55 Chevy

Early riser or sleep-in? Both

Favorite vacation ever? Pigeon Forge with family

If I’ve learned one thing, it’s: Work hard

Who has had the most impact on my life: Steve Adams, Granny and Grandpa

If I could have two wishes, they would be: Be rich and live forever

You’d be surprised to learn that I: Enjoy hiking.

The best advice I ever got: To work hard at all I do.

Anything else you’d like to say: I enjoy working for Whitfield County!

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