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Local
Police: Multi-county drug investigation seizes 4 pounds of meth, reported gang members arrested

Chad Carver Garrison

Jennifer Fowler Garrison

Chassity Brianna Cronan

Charles Logan Willis

Johnny Shane Estes

An investigation involving the sales of methamphetamine over a period of months culminated in the confiscation of over 4 pounds of the drug — as well as the arrest of more than 20 people, most of those on Monday and Tuesday.

For a moment, step back a couple of months. All that culminated within the past few days began when members of the Polk County Drug Task Force noted patterns indicating a large amount of methamphetamine regularly moving between county lines and reached out to their partners in Floyd County.

Initially the investigation wasn’t centered around gang-related activity, but as it progressed it led police to 106 Formby Trail in Aragon and a ranking member of the Aryan Brotherhood prison gang who’d been recently released from Macon State Prison in South Georgia.

On Tuesday, they raided the Aragon residence and found over a pound of meth as well as firearms — two of which had been reported stolen — and items related to the white supremacist gang.

Christopher Shane Smith had only recently been released from incarceration on July 15 on firearms charges, and announced his gang involvement to arresting officers.

“He proclaimed he was Aryan Brotherhood,” said Rome-Floyd Task Force Commander Sgt. Cathy Taylor of the Floyd County Police Department. “He did not deny that at all.”

Smith had also served 15 years in prison prior to his arrest on a firearms charge on aggravated assault and burglary charges. His girlfriend and fellow Aryan Brotherhood member, Amanda Lynn Dempsey, as well as another woman, Debra Lynne Dempsey, were also arrested. All three were charged with trafficking methamphetamine among other charges.

The day before in Floyd County, the investigation led to the arrest of several people after a search at a residence in Beechcreek at 15 Eden Drive — the home of Chad Carver Garrison and Jennifer Fowler Garrison.

Chad Garrison, 35, is charged with felony methamphetamine trafficking, possession and sale of meth, use of a communication device in the commission of a felony as well as conspiracy to violate the Georgia Controlled Substances Act.

Jennifer Fowler Garrison, 34, of 15 Eden Drive, was also arrested on felony charges of possession of methamphetamine and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime.

Police confiscated methamphetamine as well as firearms at the residence.

Of the four pounds of methamphetamine confiscated, valued at around $40,000, most had been sold in bits and pieces over the course of the investigation. Many of those arrested in Floyd County were Chad Garrison’s customers, Taylor said, although he often crossed county lines to make a sale.

Arrests include:

♦ Charles Logan Willis Sr. aka “Ding Ding Charlie” of various motels in Floyd and Polk County.

♦ Chassity Brianna Cronan of various motels in Floyd and Polk County.

♦ Nancie Camilla Hodges, aka “Millie Barrett” of 415 Sciple St., Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Joshua Lewis Owens of 2930 Cedartown Highway Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Natasha Hope Emmett of 2930 Cedartown Highway, Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Danny Glynn Dorris of 106 Formby Trail, Aragon, Polk County.

♦ Ricky Lee Bradford aka “T-Bone,” 4192 Collard Valley Rd, Aragon, Polk County.

♦ Jason Michael Moore of 50 N. Bellview Road, Aragon.

♦ Gary Franklin Owens aka “Jug” of 2930 Cedartown Highway, Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Johnny Shane Estes of 600 Pine Road, Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Kayla Lasha Smith of 599 Clarkwood Road, Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Pagan Elaine Nails, aka “Pagan Goss” of 236 Pea Ridge Road, Rockmart.

♦ Jimmy Carlton Spencer of 18 Hilltop Drive, Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Justin Dean Bullard of 533 Pine Mountain Road, Rockmart, Polk County.

♦ Cecily Grace Summerville of 533 Pine Mountain Road, Rockmart, Polk County.

They’re expecting more arrests in the investigation, Taylor said.

“Once again, the Polk County Drug Task Force has done a great job in identifying and dismantling another large-scale drug distribution enterprise operating in Polk County,” Polk County District Attorney Jack Browning said in a release.

Many of those arrested are charged with various drug and gang-related crimes including methamphetamine possession and use of a telecommunications device to facilitate drug transactions.

Along with task forces from both Rome-Floyd and Polk County, the investigation aided by the Georgia State Patrol, GBI West Metro Regional Drug Enforcement Offices, Drug Enforcement Administration, FBI Safe Streets Taskforce, Georgia Department of Corrections and K9 officers from Floyd County Police Department, Rome Police Department, Polk County and Cedartown Police Department.

“We always welcome any type of information related to drug or gang-related activity,” Taylor said. There are two numbers a person can call to report any suspicious activity to the task force in Floyd County, the crime line at 706-236-5000 and 706-238-5160.


Business
Replacements for Turner McCall Bridge, Big Dry Creek Bridge and Dykes Creek Bridge in the works

People who are concerned about traffic in the city of Seven Hills haven’t seen anything yet if the GDOT timetable for a series of projects locally plays out as the state now projects.

Albert Shelby, Georgia Department of Transportation Director of Program Delivery, provided updates on a series of major of projects in Floyd County.

Replacement of the Turner McCall Boulevard bridge over a Norfolk Southern rail line and Etowah River is at the top of the list. The existing bridge, deemed structurally deficient, was constructed in 1956.

Right of way acquisition is scheduled to begin in the Spring of 2021 with construction bids slated for 2022. The $9 million project will include four 12-foot lanes, two 12-foot auxiliary lanes, a 16-foot raised median and 5-foot sidewalks.

“The project team is currently preparing the environmental approval,” Shelby said.

Two other significant bridge replacement projects are also on the GDOT work list. Plans call for the replacement of the Martha Berry Highway Bridge over Big Dry Creek just before Three Mile Road, and replacement of the Kingston Road Bridge over Dykes Creek.

The bridge over Big Dry Creek was constructed 72 years ago. Right of way acquisition will get underway in 2020 with construction bids early in 2021. That’s a $7 million project.

The Dykes Creek bridge, last improved in 1970, is on the books for right-of-way funds in 2021 and construction money in 2022.

“We’re currently working on the environmental document,” Shelby said of the $3 million project.

The South Rome Bypass from U.S. 27 south of Georgia Highlands College around to Ga. 101, a 3.3 mile segment that was held up when a bald eagle’s nest was found in the right-of-way a couple of years ago, is now slated for construction in fiscal year 2024. It will cost $107 million in both right-of-way and construction funds.

The Southeast Bypass, from Ga. 101 to U.S. 411, is 4.6 miles long.

“The project team is currently acquiring right of way for this project,” Shelby said. Construction funding for the $117 million project is now proposed for 2026.

Shelby said that work on improvements to North Second Avenue from the Oostanaula River to Turner McCall Boulevard, eliminating the “Y” at the intersection, is scheduled for FY 2023 and is estimated to cost $22 million for the work which involves less than 0.7 of a mile. That project will include a 19-foot raised median.

Rome City Manager Sammy Rich said he was a little concerned that the Second Avenue project had been pushed a little further down the road than he had hoped for. He also expressed some concern that the timetable with bidding on the Turner McCall Bridge in 2022 and Second Avenue project in 2023 could result in some construction overlap which he characterized as a “possible disaster for the traveling public in Rome”

Finally, Shelby updated civic leaders on the Rome-Cartersville Development Corridor — formerly known simply as the 411 Connector to I-75. The total length of the project is 5.7 miles. Right-of-way acquisition is scheduled for the winter of 2020 and construction funds are allocated for fiscal year 2027. Right-of-way funding includes $25 million in previously earmarked funding.

Shelby said the state is looking to make some early acquisitions related to a Development of Regional Impact on the east side of I-75 in Bartow County, which is planning a mega-industrial site along the route after it crosses the interstate. The total project is expected to cost a little more than $120 million.

Shelby said the intersection with U.S. 41 on the west side of Cartersville would be completely redesigned. Virtually every intersection along the proposed routes would feature multi-lane roundabouts. A new diamond interchange is proposed for the insertion with the interstate itself at Old Grassdale Road.

“We’re currently awaiting environmental approval,” Shelby said.”We’re aggressively moving to get to the right-of-way phase.”


Peyton McClendon, a first-grader at Johnson Elementary School


Local
Police still searching for man who opened fire on officers

A Tuesday night search warrant escalated to a gun fight inside a Sam Harris Road house, where police say a Rome man wanted for a probation violation opened fired and then escaped.

“Call 911. Do not try and apprehend him,” Floyd County police Sgt. Chris Fincher said.

Law enforcement were serving warrants for Jeffery Tyler Aycock, 28, at 85 Sam Harris Road on Tuesday night for probation violations and contempt of superior court. Fincher said police knew that Aycock would possibly try to flee since he has been eluding arrest for some time.

When they arrived at the house, Todd Jeffrey Aycock, 52, blocked police from getting to his son, Jeffery Tyler Aycock.

Fincher said police could see the 28-year-old reach for a firearm after telling them he wasn’t going back, and they took cover before he opened fire at them.

Police returned fire and during the incident, the younger Aycock escaped in a white 2002 GMC Suburban.

He is considered armed and dangerous, Fincher said. Those who may have information may call the Crime Line at 706-236-5000. The calls are confidential.

He may have lost some weight since the mug shot shared by Floyd County police was taken, and may have a beard. Aycock has 1919 tattooed on his chin and a star tattooed on his neck.

He is wanted for four counts of felony aggravated assault, obstruction of police and possession of a firearm by a convicted felon. Fincher said Aycock has a history of aggravated assault, interference of government property, obstruction, disorderly conduct as well as other past charges.

Jeffery Tyler Aycock’s father, Todd Jeffrey Aycock, was arrested Tuesday night and charged with felony obstruction of police for his part in the incident.


Local
Worries about state budget cuts addressed during Chamber breakfast with lawmakers

The Georgia budget and proposed spending cuts were near the front of local lawmakers minds during a breakfast hosted by the Rome Floyd Chamber at the Coosa Country Club on Wednesday.

State Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, said that Gov. Brian Kemp has taken a cautionary stance with respect to the state budget, asking state agencies to look at cuts of 4% in the existing budget and cuts of up to 6% for the 2021 budget.

“These are proposals, nothing has been cut yet,” Dempsey said. “It’s better to be prepared than to be caught off-guard.”

Floyd County Commission Chairman Scotty Hancock said local government officials are worried that if cuts occur — particularly in areas like the new mental health court, drug court, the Public Defender’s office, health department, and GBI Crime lab — that they would have a trickle down impact on local government.

“Y’all know what’s going to happen. If those cuts happen they are going to come to our next Commission meeting wanting to know if we’re going to keep those programs going,” Hancock said.

Those cuts are contingent on the state revenue stream.

State Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome, who serves as chairman of the Senate Finance committee, said “If we can bring in the revenue that we should be bringing in, we will help the cities and the counties and the schools.”

The senator said he anticipates this year will be a soft year for corporate income taxes, in part because many of them overpaid last year.

“There is revenue that should be collected that will help pay the bills so that there is less pressure at the state on income tax and less pressure locally on property taxes,” Hufstetler told the chamber group.

Hufstetler also suggested that Georgia needs to bump its taxes on tobacco products.

“We heavily subsidize cigarettes in the state. ... If we were the same level of taxation as the nation we would bring in another half billion dollars, and as a side benefit the studies from other states show that we would prevent 28,000 of our youth from early tobacco death,” Hufstetler said.

However, cuts won’t impact education funding, State Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, said.

He expects to see the Quality Basic Education program fully funded for the third year in a row and touted the $69.4 million for school safety approved earlier this year, about $30,000 per school across the state, for projects deemed most appropriate by local school boards.

“Certainly a safe environment in our schools is paramount,” Lumsden said.

The Armuchee Republican chairs the Reapportionment committee in the House and said that participation in the Census will be critical going forward and he expects districts to change dramatically.

He estimated each state House seat will grow by about 5,000 residents, another 17,000 will be added to each state Senate seat and close to 100,000 more in each Congressional district.

Rep. Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville, spoke about efforts to cut down the length of trains and the possibility of adding fines to the railroads for blocking major roads for lengthy periods of time.

Scoggins also anticipates items such as a potential state takeover of the Hartsfield-Jackson International airport and various gambling proposals to come up in the 2020 session.