Two charged with murder

Justin Payton Hooker of Dalton and Nadya Catherine Schwartz of Chatsworth have been charged with the murder of Kenneth Bunn of Chatsworth.
Bunn’s body was found under the Conasauga River Bridge on Carlton Petty Road on Monday. His body was identified “through pictures, clothing, tattoos, and other information provided by witnesses,” according to a release from the Murray County Sheriff’s Department.
Hooker and Schwartz were arrested on Thursday. They are now in the Murray County Jail.

Health Department limits services

North GA – In order to protect our clients, health department staff, residents and communities and to better shift our focus on our coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic response, the North Georgia Health District is limiting services to only the most crucial public health services.

At all public health departments in Cherokee, Fannin, Gilmer, Murray, Pickens and Whitfield counties, these are the services that are currently offered until further notice:

  • Birth Control
  • STD/HIV testing
  • Immunizations for children 5 years of age and under
  • Tdap vaccinations
  • Hepatitis A vaccinations
  • Medicaid enrollment for women’s health and pregnancy
  • WIC vouchers

Protective measures in place at our county health departments, include:

  • Residents are urged to make an appointment for services.
  • Visitors will be screened at health department entrances for symptoms of COVID-19, including fever or cough, or if they have tested positive for the virus.
  • To help limit the number of people entering the health department and maintain social distancing, adult clients are asked to enter the health department alone, instructing any other adults or older teens who may be accompanying them to remain outside or in their vehicle.
  • Children who are clients are to be accompanied by one adult.

These measures are in place for the safety of our clients, health department staff, residents and communities.

Local county health departments in North Georgia may be reached at the following numbers:

  • Cherokee: Canton (770) 345-7371 Woodstock: (770) 928-0133
  • Fannin (706) 632-3023
  • Gilmer (706) 635-4363
  • Murray (706) 695-4585
  • Pickens (706) 253-2821
  • Whitfield (706) 279-9600

We regret this inconvenience to the public, but it is part of the North Georgia Health District effort to protect our communities as we respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

For easy access to the latest COVID-19 updates and recommendations from both the Georgia Department of Public Health (DPH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), log onto our COVID-19 Information for North Georgians web page at http://bit.ly/COVID19-Updates-NorthGA.

Food bank needs donations

CHATTANOOGA – The Chattanooga Area Food Bank is preparing for a possible 30% increase in the need for our services during the COVID-19 pandemic. We anticipate an additional cost of up to $100,000 every month to cover the growing need caused by coronavirus and the economic impact that will follow. If major food donors like manufacturers or grocers are unable to continue donating food to us, costs could grow to $400,000 monthly
The Chattanooga Area Food Bank has launched Operation Feed Our Neighbors to address this critical need, but can only do so with the community’s support.
Empty store shelves may be a very familiar sight for the 1 in 8 people overall – including 1 in 5 children – who face hunger in Southeast Tennessee and Northwest Georgia. But stocking up isn’t possible for them when putting food on the table is a daily struggle.
Who needs help?
* For thousands of children, the free and reduced meals they receive at school may be the only food they can count on. With school out, they may not know where their next meal will come from.
* Parents who have to miss work to care for children out of school may be putting their paychecks and ability to buy food at risk.
* Seniors at highest risk from coronavirus are being told to prepare supplies to stay at home, but they may be already struggling to balance the cost of food with medicine, utilities, rent and other necessities.
* Still more people face unsure futures as businesses are closing or significantly reducing services.
* We are now serving people who have not needed our services in the past.
In this time of uncertainty, gifts of money and time will put nutritious food into the hands of those who need it.
Every $1 helps provide 4 meals. Of every dollar donated, 95 cents goes straight to food and programs. Volunteers provide essential support.
As the community supports each other by practicing safe health habits, we need help to feed the children, families and seniors who most need us during this time.

About the Chattanooga Area Food Bank
Founded in 1972, the Chattanooga Area Food Bank’s mission is to lead a network of partners in eliminating hunger and promoting better nutrition in our region. In its 20-county service area in southeast Tennessee and northwest Georgia, 1 in 8 people, including 1 in 5 children, are food insecure. Annually, the Food Bank distributes more than 13 million meals through its network of partner agencies to serve children, families, seniors, veterans and others who are facing hunger. The Food Bank is a proud member of Feeding America, the largest hunger relief umbrella nonprofit organization in the U.S. For more information about the Food Bank or to how to get involved, visit chattfoodbank.org, like us on Facebook, or follow us on Instagram, Twitter or LinkedIn.

Murray County Sheriff’s Office seeks public’s help

The Murray County Sheriff’s Office has issued the following press release:

On Monday, March 16, 2020, at approximately 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), the Murray County Sheriff’s Office responded to Carlton Petty Road at the Conasauga River Bridge regarding an unidentified deceased white male appearing to be in his twenties.

The area was processed by investigators of the Murray County Sheriff’s Office and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation. The male was transported to the GBI Crime Lab for an autopsy by the State Medical Examiner.

If anyone has information regarding this incident or happened to see anything suspicious between the dates and times of Sunday, March 15, through Monday, March 16, at approximately 1600 hours (4:00 p.m.), please call the Murray County Sheriff’s Office at 706-695-4592 ext. 339 or the Georgia Bureau of Investigation Region One at 706-624-1424.

Covid-19 Concerns

Per the Murray County – Commissioner’s Office:

As the COVID-19 virus continues to impact the global community, Murray County is taking steps to protect our employees, their families, county residents and those with business to transact with our offices. At the same time, we want to maintain, as much as possible, continuity of operations.

Relying on recommendations and information provided by government authorities, the World Health Organization and the Centers for Disease Control, Murray County will be closing all offices to public access at the end of day on Wednesday March 18, 2020. We expect to return to normal operations on Monday April 6, 2020.

During this period, all offices will be staffed Monday-Friday 8:00am-5:00pm in order to provide essential services and information to our citizens. Of course, public safety operations will continue 24/7 services. Many of the services the county provides can be accomplished by phone, email or by the postal service.

Listed below are links to county offices with information regarding services available during this period and ways to contact each office.

Murray County Commissioner Greg Hogan encourages everyone to follow the recommendations of healthcare professionals in order to keep all families safe and to put this threat behind us as quickly as possible.

Please see www.murraycountyga.org for more information.

Perdue staff to work from home

ATLANTA, GA – In response to President Trump’s national emergency and Governor Kemp’s public health emergency declarations, along with the advice of our nation’s public health experts and medical professionals, U.S. Senator David Perdue (R-GA) today announced that his offices will begin telework procedures starting Monday, March 16. All staff will be available remotely in both Georgia and Washington, D.C.

“The health and safety of Georgians is my top priority,” said Senator Perdue. “At this time, we have decided to take additional measures to protect the safety of our staff and the constituents we welcome into our offices every day. Our team remains fully operational and ready to assist the needs of all Georgians, and that will not change. We all play a role in combating the spread of this virus, so I urge everyone to be vigilant and take extra precautions now to keep our communities healthy.”

While Senator Perdue’s team will be teleworking, staff members are ready and available to serve the needs of Georgians. Adjusting operations temporarily in order to ensure our staff and others stay healthy will not affect the quality of service that constituents have come to expect when they contact Senator Perdue’s offices.

 

If you or someone you know needs assistance during this time, you can still contact our offices by phone or by email, and we will get back to you promptly.

To help prevent the spread of viruses, the CDC recommends:

  • Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
  • Avoiding touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
  • Staying home when you are sick
  • Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe
  • Washing your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds

If you have recently traveled to areas where there are ongoing outbreaks of coronavirus, and you develop fever with cough and shortness of breath within fourteen days of your travel, or if you have had contact with someone who is suspected to have coronavirus, stay home and call your health care provider or local health department right away. Be sure to call before going to a doctor’s office, emergency room, or urgent care center and tell them about your recent travel and symptoms.

For additional information, visit Senator Perdue’s website, the Georgia Department of Public Health’s or the Centers for Disease Control’s websites.

General Assembly approves emergency declaration  

By Dave Williams
Bureau Chief
Capitol Beat News Service

ATLANTA – The General Assembly ratified Gov. Brian Kemp’s public health emergency declaration Monday in a one-day special session that took several hours longer than expected.
The governor called the special session last Friday, one day before he declared the first public health emergency in Georgia’s history to give him additional authority to deal with the coronavirus crisis.
Lawmakers convened under the Gold Dome just three days after suspending the regular 2020 session indefinitely due to coronavirus.
Unlike the political conflicts that typify the 40-day regular sessions, legislative leaders called for and got bipartisanship on Monday.
“Now is the time for us to speak with one voice and act with one heart,” Rep. Calvin Smyre, D-Columbus, the longest serving member of the state House of Representatives, told his colleagues from the House podium.
The emergency declaration gives Kemp the power to limit the size of public gatherings, a step the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is recommending, and to restrict travel.
While the governor has yet to do either, he called up as many as 2,000 members of the Georgia National Guard during the weekend to work with local governments to ensure adequate supplies of medical equipment, food and shelter.
Georgia Senate Majority Leader Mike Dugan, R-Carrollton, said handing the governor unique executive powers is needed to “get in front of” the spreading virus. He noted the expanded powers include limiting truck operations and boosting support for the state Department of Public Health to keep elderly and chronically ill Georgians safe.
“This is one of those situations where half the population is going, ‘Are they overreacting? And the other half is going, Are they doing enough?’ ” Dugan said. “Unfortunately, the only way to know if we were overreacting is to not do anything and to see where the disease takes us.”
House Speaker David Ralston pledged his chamber’s help with the crisis in a brief address to House members before Monday’s vote.
“We will do what we must to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of the people of Georgia,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “There is no higher obligation that we have.”
While Democrats and Republicans stuck together in passing the resolution, the votes came only after House and Senate leaders spent hours behind closed doors hashing out a disagreement over the measure’s wording.
The original House version of the ratifying resolution called for the public health emergency declaration to last until April 13 unless Kemp acted to renew it beyond that date, subject to the General Assembly ‘s approval of the extension.
The Senate resolution, however, left the decision on renewing the emergency declaration strictly up to the governor.
Because of the dispute, a special session that began shortly after 8 a.m. lasted until after 3:30 p.m.
Lawmakers eventually agreed to schedule another special session April 15 to ratify any extension of the emergency declaration Kemp decides to issue. However, the governor will have the authority to renew the declaration unilaterally if the General Assembly is unable to return to the state Capitol because the coronavirus has rendered such large gatherings unwise.
Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, D-Stone Mountain, said he thought the arrangement devised Monday would be enough to provide a legislative check on the governor’s power amid uncertain times.

“I think we have to be optimistic that he’s going to work for the best interest of Georgians and the state,” Henson said.
The Senate passed the resolution unanimously. It cleared the House 142-1, with Rep. Matt Gurtler, R-Tiger, voting “no.”

Staff writer Beau Evans contributed to this report.

Superior Court open, but limited

Following Governor Brian Kemp’s declaration of a Public Health Emergency due to the spread of COVID-19, Chief Justice Harold Melton of the Supreme Court of Georgia has entered an Order Declaring a Statewide Judicial Emergency affecting all courts and clerk’s offices in the State of Georgia through April 13, 2020.
In order to protect the health, safety and liberty of all citizens of this State, Chief Justice Melton has ordered that courts should remain open, to the extent feasible, but should give priority to “essential functions”. Some essential functions are: 1.) cases when an immediate liberty or safety concern is present requiring the attention of the court as soon as the court is available 2.) criminal search and arrest warrants, initial appearances and bond reviews 3.) domestic abuse temporary protective orders and restraining orders 4.) juvenile court delinquency detention hearings and emergency removal matters, and 5.) mental health commitment hearings.
It was further ordered that, to the extent court proceedings are held, they should be done in a manner to limi the risk of exposure, where possible.
As jury trials have not been designated as immediate essential function during this emergency, and as the selection of juries necessitates the gathering of large groups of citizens in one place, creating a greater risk of exposure, all Superior Court jury trial weeks scheduled in Whitfield and Murray Counties from today’s date up to and including April 13 are hereby canceled. Citizens who have received jury summons for any date up to April 13 shall disregard them and should not report for jury duet. Defendants who are scheduled for trial dates up until April 12 should not report on these dates and will be mailed a new court date as soon as possible.
All superior Court civil and domestic calendars are hereby canceled until April 13, with the exception of Temporary Protective Order hearing calendars. Ex Parte motions for Temporary Protective Orders and emergency custody matters will continue to be heard by the Presiding Judge. Judges will be available to rule on and issue orders on civil or domestic consent agreements.
Criminal Non-jury calendars will continue as scheduled, but the Superior Court Judges will work with the District Attorney’s Office, Public Defender’s Office, private attorneys, and the Clerks of Superior Court to restrict these calendars to essential cases only, focusing primarily on cases involving defendants who are currently in confinement.
 
For any further information, please visit the Whitfield County or Murray County websites at www.whitfieldcountyga.com or call the Court Administrator’s Office at 706-278-5897.

Municipal Court suspends dates

City of Chatsworth Municipal Court will be rescheduling all court dates from March 18 until at least April 13. On March 14, the Honorable Harold D. Melton, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Georgia, did order and declare a Statewide Judicial Emergency in the State of Georgia. The nature of this emergency is the continued transmission of Coronavirus/COVID-19 throughout the State and the potential infection of those who work in or are required to appear in our courts.

Chatsworth Municipal Court will mail new court dates to the address that is on file with the court system. We would encourage anyone that is concerned about their court date to contact 706-422-3028 between 8:00 am – 5:00 pm. We apologize for any inconvenience that this may cause.