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Local woman helps locate arsonist
Rewarded with $6,000 check
A-Arson Reward Pic
Local woman Lisa Simmons received a $6,000 check from Georgia Arson Control for helping to locate an arsonist after a December 2014 fire. She was presented with the check on Nov. 4. From left: Ken LeCroy with Georgia Arson Control, Lisa Simmons, Lt. Stephen Knowles of Dawson County Emergency Services, Brian Smith of the State Fire Marshal's Office, Bill Perdue with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives and Lanier Swafford, Chief of Dawson County Emergency Services. - photo by Allie Dean Dawson County News

Nearly two years ago, a fire broke out at Gospel Way Baptist Church on Harmony Church Road in Dawsonville.

Investigators had no leads in the Dec. 24, 2014 incident, no suspects and posted signs near the church with a hotline number in the hopes that any witnesses would come forward with information about how the fire was started.

A few days later, one woman, Lisa Simmons of Dawsonville, called in with information that led to the eventual arrest and conviction of Gary Lee Croy, the man who intentionally lit the church on fire, causing structural damage to the flooring of the building and to the basement, where the church housed a small thrift store.

Thanks to Simmons' cooperation, Croy, of Pendergrass, was arrested on Feb. 11, 2015 and was later convicted of one count of arson and sentenced to two years incarceration with 20 years of probation.

On Nov. 4, Simmons was rewarded for her efforts with a $6,000 check from Georgia Arson Control.

Ken LeCroy, a representative of the Georgia Arson Control, presented Simmons with the check.
LeCroy said that the GAC provides money to people who report arson incidents, and also provides tip line signs, like the one where Simmons got the number to call in with her information.

"We also support the fire department however we can," LeCroy said. "The money we get and give to people like Simmons comes from donations from insurance companies."

The arson investigation was a joint effort between the Dawson County Emergency Services Lieutenant Stephen Knowles, Bill Purdue at the Atlanta office of the AFT (or Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives) and Brian Smith at the State Fire Marshal's Office.

Each member of the investigation was present when Simmons was given the check for her selfless service to the community.

"Arson is one of the hardest crimes to prosecute," said Dawson County EMS Chief Lanier Swafford. "Being able to get a lead and a prosecution is a rare thing. We're grateful that Simmons called in."