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Friday morning shooting in northeastern Floyd leaves one man dead, another hospitalized

A 56-year-old man is dead and another wounded following what Floyd County police are calling a “domestic violence incident” near the Floyd/Bartow line.

Raymond G. Johnson Jr., of a Gordon County address, died in the shooting, says Floyd County Deputy Coroner John Hamilton.

Johnson’s body has been taken to the GBI crime lab in Decatur for an autopsy. The specific cause of death for Johnson has not been released.

The identity of the wounded man also has not been made public.

Floyd County police report there is no active threat to the public from the early morning standoff.

It occurred near the Floyd and Bartow county line east of the Ga. 140/Ga. 53 intersection.

According to Floyd County Police Department Sgt. Chris Fincher:

Patrol officers were dispatched to a rural part of the Shannon community at around 6:30 a.m. following calls to 911 about gunshots.

Officers who were first on scene narrowed the location to Buttrum Road, which is the last road in Floyd County off Ga 140.

Investigators are asking the public to call if they observed anything unusual while traveling on Ga. 140 or Ga. 41 between 5:45 and 6:30 a.m. on Friday.

Vehicles of interest are a gold Chevrolet HHR crossover and a black Dodge Caravan. Calls or texts should be directed to Investigator Logan Moore at 706-252-4218.

This is the second death investigation in the area in recent weeks. On Aug. 25, officers were called to investigate what first was reported as a suicide but opened a homicide case after initial investigation.

The victim in that case was identified as 34-year-old Kayla Cherie Gettrost and she was found at 77 Baker St. at 5:58 a.m.

The investigation remains open as investigators await final results of a GBI autopsy.


Local
Joint Comprehensive Plan work continues

The process to form the upcoming Joint Comprehensive Plan continued recently with a meeting at the Gordon County Judicial Building.

NWGA Regional Commission Director of Regional Planning Julianne Meadows ran a brief work session for stakeholder and public input Thursday evening.

“This is a very important process helping the local governments keep qualified local government status, but also coming together to plan for the future,” Meadows said.

Along with City of Calhoun and Gordon County government and school system officials in attendance were several nonprofit and civic organization leaders, along with members of the public.

“What a good looking group of folks,” County Administrator Jim Ledbetter said. “We had the last one in 2018. I don’t have an attendance list, but it looks like we have more people interested in this process. We’re right to be ... our county is changing right under our noses.”

Municipalities around Gordon County will continue working together to develop the latest Joint Comprehensive Plan, and the public is encouraged to participate throughout the process. The process kicked off at the first meeting on Aug. 30.

As part of Thursday evening’s workshop, Meadows facilitate discussion about some of Gordon County’s current strengths, weaknesses, as well as future opportunities and threats. Topics covered were location, transportation, accessibility, housing, public transit, public facilities, infrastructure and healthcare.

Required elements of the upcoming final plan will be municipality goals, needs and opportunities, community work programs, reports of accomplishments, broadband internet service, and land use. Other optional elements could be economic development, housing and transportation.

“We had to add broadband as an element of the comprehensive plan in order to participate in the use of any state grant money,” Ledbetter said.

Local officials from the governments of Gordon County, Calhoun, Fairmount, Plainville, Ranger and Resaca will continue to welcome input to help set local planning requirements per the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

“This is a joint plan, so each municipality is part of this process,” Meadows said. “We’re meeting with Fairmount, Ranger, and Resaca, and Plainville separately.”

Another item discussed briefly during the meeting was impact fees.

“Impact fees are a way to offset the cost of development,” Meadows said. “Communities will use them to balance that cost of new public infrastructure.

According to Meadows, the State of Georgia has a development impact fee law that regulates that process for interested communities.

“There are a lot of requirements to go through when a community is looking at impact fees,” she said. “Those include analysis and planning of areas and levels of service in your comprehensive plan that includes a stakeholders meeting with broad input and participation.”

Ledbetter said in some recent cases, developers have voluntarily taken on additional costs with major projects in the area to make them work, adding that if feasible, the county would like to attempt to work those fees into the upcoming plan.

“We’ve been very fortunate in some ways so far in that our land is so cheap, but yet so valuable as to location with these developers that they have volunteered to put in a pay for certain infrastructure to make them feasible,” he said. “But when they get built ... we’re going to need a ladder truck, we’re going to need a fire station or two, our roads are going to be more heavily traveled, so we need more paving and road equipment.”

Below are some statistics (from Esri-Data Axle) shared during the workshop for Gordon County as a whole:

♦ Population — 57,997

♦ Average household size — 2.7

♦ Median age — 38.1

♦ Median household income — $53,418

♦ Per capita income — $27,280

♦ Median net worth — $92,633

♦ Total businesses — 1,772

♦ Total employees — 23,460

♦ High school graduate — 36%

♦ No high school diploma — 19%

♦ Some college — 28%

♦ College degree (Bachelor’s +) — 17%

♦ White collar jobs — 43.3%

♦ Blue collar jobs — 43%

♦ Service jobs — 13.7%

Plan approval by June 30 of next year will allow local government bodies to extend their respective Qualified Local Government status and eligibility for loans from the state, as well as various grants and permits, as required by Georgia Planning Act of 1989, and the 2018 Local Planning Requirements of the GDCA.

The most recent plan can be viewed online at nwgrc.org, or gordoncounty.org.

The latest five-year update, once prepared, will be submitted for public review in spring of 2023 and will also be reviewed by the Northwest Georgia Regional Commission and the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

The next meeting is scheduled to take place Thursday, Oct. 20, at 4 p.m., in the Gordon County Judicial Building Assembly Room, 101 S. Piedmont St. Those stakeholder meetings are also open to the public.

Along with public participation, the meetings also serve as an opportunity for officials to explain the process for the plan. Stakeholder Committees appointed by local government will also be part of the process.

Meadows said a community survey will eventually be sent out as well.


Local
William Lee Golden headed to Calhoun

William Lee Golden has been playing music since he was a kid, picking up instruments and vocal talent from his sister, mother, and grandfather.

Those early steps into music have spiraled, and now he’s one of the most well-known musicians of all time, sporting numerous Grammy nominations and wins with the Oak Ridge Boys, and plenty of accolades in his own right.

Next week, Golden will grace Calhoun with his iconic baritone.

From under a tree outside his home in Sumner County, Tennessee, as he waited for his sons to show up for practice, Golden talked a lot about family. His current group, William Lee Golden and the Goldens, is comprised of a bunch of some of the best talent in Nashville — including some of his family.

During the early days of the pandemic, with lockdowns forcing everyone apart, Golden gathered his family together.

“It gave us a chance to come back together,” Golden said.

Rather than get bogged down with bad news, they played music: old songs which had shaped each of them throughout the years.

“We wound up recording what we were doing,” said Golden.

Thirty-four songs came out of that venture: gospel and old country from his childhood, and other music that had touched his kids and his grandkids. One grandson’s choice? “Elvira” by the Oak Ridge Boys.

“These songs were essential to inspiring us in some form through our musical journey,” he said.

Golden has been a busy man throughout the pandemic: he recorded three CDs with the Goldens, a project with the Oak Ridge Boys, and an autobiography. Going forward, he also says he has 144 dates booked with the Oak Ridge Boys, including Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland Resort.

“Christmas has always been a big part for us,” said Golden.

According to Golden, Christmas used to be difficult — he would go on tour just before Thanksgiving, and wouldn’t get back home until just before Christmas, not leaving much time for family. Now that he’s doing Christmas shows at Opryland, it’s a different story.

Still, it’s a lot to ask of a person, and Golden is not far out from his 84th birthday. He’s working hard on his music, and just as hard on keeping himself healthy.

“It can be physically demanding at times,” he said.

Golden pointed to exercise and healthy eating as two key components to doing what he does, and doing it well. Keeping healthy, to him, is key to keeping himself, his mood, and his voice exactly where he wants them.

“We demand of ourselves a certain amount of quality within our own selves,” he said.

All in all, Golden is excited to be making music, and making it with his family. He’s missed out on a lot of time, spending a self-professed 150 to 200 days a year out of the house, and he’s glad to get together with them now, doing what they all love.

“I still get just as excited about music today as I did when I was a kid,” Golden said. “Music is exciting, and it’s uplifting, and it does that for me every day. I forget how old I am sometimes!”

The Goldens will play at the GEM Theatre, 114 N Wall St., on Saturday, Sept. 24 at 7:30 p.m. To purchase tickets, visit calhoungemtheatre.org.


Local
Calhoun woman dies from falling off cliff in Maine

A Calhoun woman died Monday morning after falling from a cliff in Maine, according to police.

According to Scarborough Police Department reports:

Romona Gowens, 55, fell 30 feet from the edge of a cliff near Scarborough, a town in Southwestern Maine, around 10:25 a.m. Monday when a fence she had been leaning against broke.

According to a release from SPD Lt. Timothy Barker, emergency calls were made by Gowens’ sister as well as a local fisherman.

A release states that when emergence personnel reached Gowens she was found with critical injuries.

“A lengthy extrication process of the patient was completed and she was transported to Maine Medical Center where Gowens succumbed to her injuries,” officials said in a release.

According to authorities, though the incident remains under investigation, it currently appears to have been an accident.


Local labor force hits 13-month high

There’s a mixed employment report for August across Northwest Georgia and the state. The news is mostly good but there are a few bumps in surrounding counties.

“We have found that the new normal for jobhunting is less door to door and more virtual connection,” Georgia Commissioner of Labor Mark Butler said in a release. “Our agency connects jobseekers with open positions quickly and effectively utilizing Employ Georgia and virtual job fairs benefitting employers and employees across the state.”

First-time unemployment claims are where things separate. A county-by-county look shows:

♦ Gordon: 159 claims, down 46.1% from July and by 28.4% from August 2021.

♦ Bartow: 247 claims, an increase of 4.2% from the previous month but down 25.4% from a year earlier.

♦ Floyd: 287 claims, down 29.1% from July and by 7.7% fro♦ m August 2021.

♦ Polk: 201 claims, up 125.8% from 30 days earlier and 45.7% from the previous 12 months.

♦ Chattooga: 163 claims, an increase of nearly 47% for the month and 126.4% year over year.

♦ Georgia: Initial claims were down 1,795 (6%) from July to 26,750 in August. Over the year, initial claims were down 21,122 (44%).

We’ll watch for September updates from Chattooga County as the Labor Day floods idled some workers there, including some manufacturing and hospitality employees.

Statewide, Georgia’s jobless rate held at 2.8% for a second month. Job numbers increased 15,800 from July to August to an all-time high of 4,824,500.


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