By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support local journalism.
2013 year in review
DXL yearinreview
year in review


Dangerous gas leak at City Hall

Dawsonville City Hall was closed for a period of time Monday, Jan. 7, due to a dangerous gas leak.

City employees smelled the gas odor when they arrived for work on Jan. 7.

Our monitors detected a gas level that was about 30 percent of the lower explosive limit of natural gas on the second floor in the council chambers, said Capt. Jason Dooley with Dawson County EMS.

Emergency workers found that a rooftop heating/air-conditioning unit was malfunctioning and causing the leak.

Lawyer tells school: cut ties to Christian Learning Center

An attorney for Freedom from Religion Foundation told the Dawson County School System to sever ties immediately with the Dawson County Christian Learning Center.

However, the request left school superintendent Keith Porter puzzled. The letter requests that we sever ties with the Dawson County Christian Learning Center, but in actuality, there are no ties or agreements in place.

Bosten named new county CFO

Jan. 14, Dena Bosten began her new role as chief financial officer for Dawson County. Bosten has worked for the Dawson County government since 2010, starting as a general accountant and then payroll accountant, as well as accounting and budget manager.

She will be an excellent CFO for Dawson County, Dawson County Board of Commissioners Chair Mike Berg said.

Woman OK after accidentally shot

A woman was accidentally shot in the leg at Dawsonville Gun & Pawn Jan. 23.

Dolores Bearden was looking at a 9mm semiautomatic handgun that a customer had brought in when it went off, hitting her in both legs.

The bullet went through Beardens upper thighs and then hit her other leg. She was transported to Northeast Georgia Medical Center, where she was treated and released the same day. Dawsonville Gun & Pawn owner Paul Mincey said the employee handling the weapon was dismissed.


Lanier Tech names dean

Troy Lindsey was named dean of Lanier Technical Colleges Dawson campus. His first day on the job was Feb. 1. I look forward to the challenge of assisting the Dawson campus to continue to grow in service to the community, Lindsey said.

Number of gun permits issued surge

As the issue of gun control heats up, the number of people purchasing guns locally and obtaining gun permits has gone up considerably, according to business owners and the Dawson County Probate Court.


Greer new Assistant D.A.

On March 1, Conley Greer was named supervising assistant district attorney for Dawson County.

Greer replaced former assistant district attorney John Wilbanks, who was dismissed in December 2012.

I look forward to working with the exceptional staff of the district attorneys office, as well as the dedicated professionals within the sheriffs office. I cannot wait to get started, Greer said.

Lady Tigers head to state tournament

For the first time in two decades, the Dawson County varsity girls basketball team played in the State Championship game in Macon. The Lady Tigers advanced to the Class AAA finals with a comeback victory over Decatur in the Elite Eight and a bruising of Southwest Macon in the Final Four.

The Dawson County Lady Tigers fell to St. Pius Golden Lions, 77-55, in the state championship game, finishing as runner-up.

Senior Centers Margie Weaver dies

Influential citizen and Senior Center Director Margie Weaver died at age 74 on Monday, March 18. During this time, I came to know her as a pure servant-leader with great love for her community and the people of Dawson County, Parks and Recreation Director Lisa Henson said.

Soldier boy laid to rest

Kenneth Stewart was laid to rest on March 15. The 12-year-old boy fought a five-year battle with medulloblastoma, a malignant brain tumor most commonly diagnosed in children. He was given the nickname Soldier Boy because of his fascination with the military and his hopes of someday being in the Army. Im proud to have called him my son, his mother, Anna Miles, said. And if we knew that he was the last person to ever endure a journey and a battle through cancer, and no one else would ever have to again, we would have stood there and chose to be the final ones to go through it.

New company comes to Dawson

A Gainesville millwork company breaks ground on a 22,000-square-foot manufacturing plant. The company, Five Star Architectural LLC, moved its operations into the new building, located in the Premier Business Park off Grizzle Road.


Health system opens complex

Northeast Georgia Health System opened a new medical complex in Dawson County. The facility is located on Hwy. 400, just north of Hwy. 53. The new facility includes an urgent care, an all-digital imaging center with in-house MRI and CT capabilities, an outpatient laboratory and physician offices.

Perren named Lanier Tech president

Dr. Ray Perren was named president of Lanier Tech, the Technical College System of Georgia announced. Im confident that the commissioner and the board have made an excellent choice and that hell serve the schools, and the communities that they serve, well.

School board approves building purchases

The Dawson County School Board unanimously approved the purchase of two buildings at a cost of $1.3 million.

The buildings are located on 2.5 acres in the Food Lion center in downtown Dawsonville and contain a total of 13,700 square feet. This transaction will provide for the needs of the system for decades to come, said Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter. We have plans to develop a professional learning center in the main building that will include an area for teachers to access instructional resources and work on advanced degrees, Porter said. Also, the auxiliary building will be used extensively for professional learning activities and system meetings for teachers and staff. For our system to have an area that can become a learning hub for our employees is exciting.

LCG Welding moves to Dawson

A Forsyth County-based metal fabrication and welding contractor has leased 60,000 square feet of space in the former Dawsonville Family Fun Center.

LCG Welding, a division of LCG Inc., General Contractors, LLC, signed a long-term lease April 1 with property owner Christ Fellowship to expand its welding division, according to the companys general manager.

Mike Berg takes helm of ACCG

Dawson County Commission Chair Mike Berg on Monday was sworn in as president of the Association of County Commissioners in Georgia. Berg was sworn in at a special ceremony in Savannah.


Private company to operate five state parks

Major changes coming to state parks, including Amicalola State Park, are announced.

As of July 1, all of the states lodge parks, including Amicalola, are under management of a private company, Florida-based Coral Hospitality.

Tax chief resigns after drug arrest

Dawson County Chief Tax Appraiser Michael Joseph Roberts, 36, resigned on May 8 after he was arrested the day before on misdemeanor drug charges.

Roberts was charged with possession of less than one ounce of marijuana and possession of a drug-related object.

Kurt Tangel took over as interim chief tax appraiser.

Heavy rains fall on Dawson County

On May 19, Dawson County received 6.5 inches of rain in an eight-hour period. The Etowah River crested at more than 16 feet10 feet above normal.

In the western part of the county, River Park, a popular canoe put-in point on Hwy. 9 near Riverview Middle School was closed as torrents of muddy water overflowed the river banks, flooding the parking lot and facilities with about four feet of water.

Commissioners vote down land swap

Dawson County commissioners voted down a land swap proposed by County Manager Cindy Campbell to develop recreational fields.

At the May 23 voting session, commissioners voted against the land swap in which the county would trade a 50-acre Etowah Water and Sewer Authority tract for a 33.5 acre Townley Tract.


Gold Creek buys Gainesville plant

Dawson Countys largest employer purchased a facility in Gainesville to continue expanding its operations.

The deal is part of our long-term plan to diversify, said Gold Creek CEO and co-founder Mark Sosebee. We will continue to operate and produce products for Perdue Farms, as well as seek additional business opportunities.

Teen killed in car wreck

A Dawson County High School student died in a car accident Monday, June 10. Authorities said they believed Hawkins was sitting or standing on the roof of a 2006 Suzuki Grand Vitara when the driver lost control. No signs of drugs or alcohol were found at the scene, the Georgia State Patrol reported.

Elliott makes ARCA racing history

Chase Elliott led the way across the finish line at Pocono Raceway, making him the youngest driver ever to win an ARCA race.


Power Center coming to Dawson

A real estate capital investment company has purchased a 102-acre commercial tract adjacent to the North Georgia Premium Outlet Mall.

Atlanta-based Blanchard Real Estate Capital Company plans to develop an approximately 350,000-square-foot Power Center that will include several national retailers and restaurants, according to company principal David Wishen.

County opposes reservoir

County commissioners approved a resolution that opposes using state or federal money to finance a reservoir project supported by the City of Dawsonville.

The project, known as Calhoun Creek Reservoir, calls for a dam 2,000 feet wide by 220 feet tall, and a 590-acre lake.

School board approves tax increase

The Dawson County School Board voted Friday, July 12, to approve a property tax rate increase of 4.8 percent, bringing the total to 17.246 mills. Property owners saw the increase in their September property tax bills.

The state has stepped back on funding public education, said School Superintendent Keith Porter. Typically, the state will provide over 50 percent, and in some districts its 98 percent. Now, local communities are being asked to fund public education.

Elliott continues NCWTS top-10 streak

Chase Elliott, driver of the No. 94 Aarons Dream Machine Chevrolet, earned another top-10 finish at the NCWTSNASCAR Camping World Truck Seriesevent held at Iowa Speedway.

Elliott added another top-10 finish to his NCWTS career stats when he finished fifth at the American Ethanol 200 at Iowa Speedway.


City to rename streets after racing legends

Streets were renamed in August after eight racing legends. Streets were named after Harry Melling, Lloyd Seay, Roy Hall, Raymond Parks, Bill Elliott, Bernard Long, Gober Sosebee and Ted Chester.

City Council votes on alcohol sales

Dawsonville residents will be given an opportunity to vote on Sunday alcohol sales. The Dawsonville City Council voted unanimously Monday night to amend the citys alcohol ordinance to allow for on-site sales of alcoholic drinks, including distilled spirits by restaurants and hotels within the city limits, on Sundays from 12:30 p.m. to midnight.

Russell Creek Reservoir one step closer

The Russell Creek Reservoir is one step closer to getting its 404 permit.

A 404 permit is issued by the U.S. Corps of Engineers. It is a necessary permit whenever water the Corps has control over is affected.

The authority recently had its Section 7 consultation with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service regarding endangered species. A Section 7 Consultation determines if a project will jeopardize endangered or threatened species.

The results were good, Brooke Anderson, General Manager of the Etowah Water and Sewer Authority said. There was no jeopardy and so we were able to bring that issue to a close.

City hosts first-ever beer festival

The city of Dawsonville and Castleberry Ale House owner Donovan Hyder hosted the citys first music and beer festival Aug. 23-25. Five to six thousand people attended the two-day event, according to City Council Member Chris Gaines.

Ive heard nothing but positive things, Gaines said. Its great to get people out to enjoy Dawsonville. Everybody is having a good time.


Man drowns in Amicalola Creek

A Labor Day family outing turned tragic Sunday afternoon when a Mableton man drowned in Amicalola Creek. Ramiro Ponce-Ruiz, 45, was swimming with family and friends at a popular site near Steele Bridge known as Devils Elbow.

He dove in and came up one time, apparently in trouble, said Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Lanier Swafford. He didnt resurface.

County adopts budget

The Dawson County Board of Commissioners unanimously approved its budget for 2014.

The budget approved for 2014 is $20.88 million. The only amendment made to the original budget was to purchase an additional ambulance for Emergency Services.

Several arrested in drug bust

Approximately 200 pounds of methamphetamine was seized in what officials called a Dawson County-based drug trafficking operation.

During the course of a 12-month investigation, about 200 pounds of methamphetamine were seized, said Sherry Lang, director of public affairs with the Georgia Bureau of Investigation.

Although not named, six people were arrested and dozens of weapons confiscated.

High school debt retired

The Dawson County Board of Education now owns one more buildingDawson County High School.

After 16 years of making payments, the building has been paid off, two years early.

Recent ELOST (Education Local Option Sales Tax) funded payments allowed the board to stop assessing 0.4 mills associated with the high school debt, which was scheduled to run through the 2015 fiscal year, Porter said. That saves taxpayers money, he said, and the 0.4 mills will disappear from individual tax bills.

Student nearly hit at school bus stop

An unnamed Dawson County student came dangerously close to being hit while standing at a bus stop Sept. 20. The incident occurred near the intersection of Highways 53 and 183.

If I had been distracted for half-a-second, I may have hit that child, Dawson County resident Kevin Lindley said.

Georgia leads the nation in the number of school bus fatalities, according to a survey published by the Kansas State Department of Education earlier in the year.

Jim Rich, Director of transportation for the Dawson County School System, said children must stand back 12 feet from the roadway and wait for the bus driver to signal them that it is safe to step into the roadway.


School property contaminated by water runoff

Contaminated storm-water runoff from a local poultry processor is being blamed for the closing of a Robinson Elementary Schools outdoor classroom and garden.

The closing came after Gold Creek Foods Inc. received a notice of violation from Georgias Environmental Protection (EPD) for failing to properly contain storm-water runoff from an area where its trucks are unloaded. The notice was issued Aug. 2.

The same day, officials with the Dawson County Environmental Health Department advised the school to close access to the three-acre outdoor classroom next to Gold Creek Foods. Storm water from the processing plant runs above ground across the schools property.

We know theres a problem and were addressing it, Mark Sosebee, CEO and co-founder of Gold Creek Foods, said.

Local woman killed in road rage wreck

A Dawsonville woman and another driver were killed Oct. 11 in what officials called a road-rage accident.

Chelsea Antionette Gerrish, 20, of Dawsonville was heading westbound on Browns Bridge Road at approximately 12:10 a.m. when she was struck head-on by a pickup truck attempting to pass another vehicle, according to officials.

The driver of the pickup truck, Michael Carl Williams, 48, was killed on impact, said Cpl. Joe Britte with the Gainesville Police Department.

This is unfortunately an active road-rage event on the part of Mr. Williams, Britte said. It claimed an innocent life and inured two other females.

German company to expand in Dawson

A small German-based manufacturer of industrial welding exhaust systems has purchased 14.7 acres in Dawson County. The company, Kemper America Inc., plans to build a 20,000-square foot plant off Carlisle road in 2014.

Kemper President Ben Howell said Dawson County is a good fit for his organization.

The property we found is very close to (Highway) 400, and thats important for us, Howell said. We got it at a good price, and the county is trying to help us establish the business.

Festival sets new record

The 46th Annual Mountain Moonshine Festival was the largest yet.

KARE for Kids Vice President Gordon Pirkle estimated 100,000 people attended the event the fourth weekend of October.

A total of 550 vendor booths lined the streets of downtown Dawsonville. There were also 2,000 show cars at the Georgia Racing Hall of Fame.

We couldnt have asked for prettier weather, KARE for Kids President Calvin Byrd said. We had a huge crowd and great vendors. We appreciated citizens of Dawsonville being patient this weekend.


Chase Elliott makes racing history

Dawsonville speedster Chase Elliott had to come back from a pre-race penalty that sent him to the back of the field to take the lead with 30 laps remaining in the All American 400 at Fairgrounds Speedway Nashville in Nashville, Tenn., then held off a hard-charging Daniel Hemric over the closing laps to score the victory.

It marked the first time any race driver has been able to win all four of the Crown Jewel Super Late Model races, as Elliott has previously won the World Crown 300 at Gresham Motorsports Park, the Winchester 400 at Winchester Speedway, and the Snowball Derby at Five Flags Speedway.

Etowah offers $10 million for citys water

Etowah Water and Sewer Authority wants to buy out the City of Dawsonvilles water and sewer facilities.

The authority offered the city $10 million at a negotiation meeting between the two entities. The city and authority were meeting to follow-up on negotiations from a meeting in August in regard to the city and Etowahs 40-year agreement.

Incumbents, alcohol voted in

Dawsonville City Council incumbents Angie Smith and Mike Sosebee held onto their city council seats. In a Nov. 5 election, voters also approved a referendum to allow on-site sales of alcoholic drinks, including distilled spirits, by restaurants and hotels within the city limits on Sundays from 12:30 to midnight.

No funding for city reservoir

The City of Dawsonvilles request for $20 million to purchase land for a 590-acre reservoir project was turned down by the state.

In a letter dated Oct. 10, Dawsonville Mayor James Grogan asked for the money as a direct investment to purchase 1,100 acres for the Calhoun Creek Reservoir.

The Georgia Environmental Finance Authority (GEFA) announced in November its plans to invest up to $44.9 million in four other strategically placed reservoir projects in the state. I was disappointed with their decision, but understand their reasoning, Grogan said. There were other projects much further along than ours. Its not that ours was a bad project but just a matter of timing. A new round of applications will be available in January, and we will resubmit our request. This is a long and tedious process and we must remain persistent.


Teen driver charged in car-surfing death

A teenage driver was charged with first-degree homicide after her passenger was thrown from the roof of the car, according to officials with the Georgia State Patrol.

Anna Gabrielle Hawkins, 16, was killed June 10 while car surfing, the patrol said.

Robin Stone, a spokesperson with Georgia State Patrol, said charges were filed Wednesday, Nov. 13, in Dawson County Juvenile Court.

Dawson County Assistant District Attorney Conley Greer said a complaint against the16-year-old driver was filed Monday Nov. 18 in Dawson County Juvenile Court.

No drugs or alcohol were involved in the accident, GSP Senior Trooper Mark Cox said.

The driver, who is not being named because she is a juvenile, is also charged with driving too fast for conditions, reckless driving and driving in violation of license restrictions, Stone said.

Pilot dies in single-engine plane crash

An Atlanta physician was killed in a single-engine plane crash in Dawson County Monday, Dec. 2.

We got a call around 7:25 p.m. from the FAA that there had been a distress call from a plane, Dawson County Emergency Services Chief Billy Thurmond said. We sent units to Auraria Road and found debris in the roadway that they suspected was from the plane.

The pilot, later identified as Dr. John Culbertson Jr., was found with the wreckage and fuselage on top of a small mountain near a home on Auraria Road.

School chief to retire

Dawson County School Superintendent Keith Porter announced plans to retire after more than 30 years with the system.

The board of education voted to accept Porters resignation at its regularly scheduled meeting held in December.

After much thought and prayer, I have decided to retire at the conclusion of this school year, on May 31, 2014, Porter said in a Dec. 3 letter to the school board.