Graduates of White County’s 2022 Fire Training School honored

Business, News

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. –The White County Office of Public Safety and Fire Services along with friends, family, and community dignitaries gathered to celebrate the graduates of the 2022 Fire Training School presented by White County Fire Services. The graduates recognized were: KyLeigh Johnson, Owen Pitchford, Will Sexton, and Terry Stewart.

The evening was commenced by Captain Lanier Swafford, of the White County Fire’s Training Division, welcoming friends and family. The pledge and prayer was then conducted by Chaplin Brian Alexander. Director David Murphy of White County Public Safety, welcomed distinguished guest including county commissioners and county department leaders. The training officers that instructed the school were then recognized: Captain Robbie Burke, Captain Lanier Swafford, and Field Training Officers: Casey Creel, Shad Sosebee, and Brad Alexander.

This was followed by Fire Division Chief, Michael LeFevre stating, “This is not an effort of one or two people, but the department as a whole. All the firefighter’s pitched in and helped with the training and instruction of this class.” Fire Service Administration then presented the graduates with their helmet and certificate. Director Murphy then administered the Oath of Office.

For the first time in four years, White County Fire Services presented a Fire Training School. The Class of 2022 began their courses in March of this year. Throughout the 180 hours of instructional time and 40 hours of field training, the graduates obtained their Firefighter I Certificate and their Hazardous Material Operations Certificate. The graduates are now working as part-time and full-time firefighters in White County.

Note: not pictured in the photo is Graduate KyLeigh Johnson

White Co. purchases land for new fire station

Business, News

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — On Thursday, the White County Board of Commissioners took a major step toward enhancing the safety of its citizens by voting to purchase a site to construct a new fire station in the northern section of Duncan Bridge Road.

The 1.81-acre site will cost taxpayers $55,000. It is located at the intersection of Duncan Bridge and Sonny Circle.

“There are two areas of White County that have a need for enhanced fire presence,” said Commission Chairman Travis Turner. “For years this Board and our staff have tried to find a property that would give us the biggest bang for the buck and cover the most houses. This location has the potential to benefit 2,096 residences and single-family structures.”

Director of Public Safety David Murphy said he is excited about the opportunity to improve safety and added that he will begin collecting data to provide the Board with an estimated construction cost.

Murphy also noted that a new fire station has the potential to serve 275 industrial/commercial properties, 13 agricultural properties, 286 vacation rental properties, public facilities and utility structures.

“This is one area an ISO consultant recommended for construction of a new fire station,” Murphy said. “It can cover Duncan Bridge and Helen Highway all the way to the bypass into the City of Helen and out to Sautee and 95 percent of Panorama subdivision.





Ultralight plane crashes in White County


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — A man that authorities have declined to identify was airlifted to Northeast Georgia Medical Center in Gainesville after his ultralight plane crashed at Mountain Air Park Friday afternoon.

According to White County Public Safety Director David Murphy, witnesses said the plane took off from a private grass runway off Airport Road then banked hard left then came down.

Murphy said the National Transportation Safety Board and Federal Aviation Agency were contacted and will conduct the investigation.

Fetch Your News will update this report when more details are made availeble.


LeFevre named Fire Division Chief


CLEVELAND, Ga. – White County has a new Fire Division Chief and his name is Mike LeFevre.

White County Public Safety Director, David Murphy made the announcement Wednesday, saying, “After an extensive selection process, and the review of many qualified candidates, we have chosen Mike LeFevre as our new Chief”.

LeFevre has served 23 years in the fire service. He began his fire career in Hall County
in 1999 where he earned his fire certification as well as certification as a National Registered
Emergency Medical Technician Intermediate, later earning the rank of Sargent then Lieutenant.

Mike has served as a part-time firefighter and quartermaster for White County since 2017,
being a crucial member of the COVID response team with the ordering and delivering of
much need equipment and supplies from the Emergency Management stockpile.

Outside of the fire service, his experience in leadership spans over 20 years owning and
operating a successful business.

Mike and his wife Kathy have been married 35 years. They have two children and five
grandchildren. They are both active in their church and both enjoy doing life together.

“Mike has been a vital part of our department,” said Murphy, “he has the support of our team
and the knowledge and skills needed for this role. We look forward to him and Kathy
becoming part of our community.”

White County firefighters recognized for heroic life-saving efforts

Business, News

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — Public Safety Director David Murphy said Monday that he wants to make sure the community recognizes what valuable assets their firefighters are. Monday, he recognized six who were credited with saving two lives
Among those honored were Steve Hopper, Tommy Steen, and AJ Staton. The men responded with Rescue 4 on April 28 to Tommy Cowart Road south of Cleveland for an overdose call where the individual was in cardiac arrest.
They initiated CPR and administered Narcan, which resulted in that person eventually regaining consciousness and preventing loss of life, Murphy said.

Firefighters Austin Brown, Jackson Cantrell, and Shad Sosebee were recognized for their actions when responding with Rescue 2 to a gunshot call on Leatherford Road on October 8.

The men applied a tourniquet to a victim who had a gunshot wound to the leg, stopping the loss of blood, and saving a life. “Your dedication and genuine concern for the welfare of others is admirable and inevitably appreciated by all. You are an exceptional asset to White County Fire Services, and we are fortunate to have you serving the citizens and visitors to our community.”

Each man received a certificate and letter of commendation for their heroic and lifesaving actions.

White County budget planning begins Monday


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — The White County Board of Commissioners will hold its annual departmental budget planning sessions on Monday, April 18 and Tuesday, April 19 starting at 8:30 a.m. each day in the Board Room at the County Administration Building.

Monday’s session begins with Public Safety Director David Murphy presenting the proposed budgets for Animal Control, Emergency Management, E911, and Fire Departments.

Tuesday’s session starts with Tax Commissioner Cindy Cannon’s presentation of the proposed budget for the Tax Commissioner’s Office.


Become Firewise to protect you and your property


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – White County Public Services Director David Murphy encourages all residents to be Firewise.

Simple steps you can take today will help protect you and your property from wildfires.  As seen this weekend in White County and near Unicoi State Park, our communities are vulnerable to wildfires.  Our hazard profile lists wildfires as one of the threats facing our county.

Below is a list of “Things You Can Do Today” to maintain a survivable space.

  • Clean roof surfaces and gutters of pine needs, leaves, branches, etc., regularly to avoid accumulation of flammable materials.
  • Remove portions of any tree extending within 10 feet of the flue opening of any stove or chimney.
  • Maintain a screen constructed of non-flammable material over the flue opening of every chimney or stovepipe. Mesh openings of the screen should not exceed 1/2 inch.
  • Landscape vegetation should be spaced so that fire cannot be carried to the structure or surrounding vegetation.
  • Remove branches from trees to height of 15 feet.
  • A fuel break should be maintained around all structures.
  • Dispose of stove or fireplace ashes and charcoal briquettes only after soaking them in a metal pail of water.
  • Store gasoline in an approved safety can away from occupied buildings.
  • Propane tanks should be far enough away from buildings for valves to be shut off in case of fire. Keep area clear of flammable vegetation.
  • All combustibles such as firewood, picnic tables, boats, etc. should be kept away from structures.
  • Garden hose should be connected to outlet.
  • Addressing should be indicated at all intersections and on structures.
  • All roads and driveways should be at least 16 feet in width.
  • Have fire tools handy such as: ladder long enough to reach the roof, shovel, rake, and bucket for water.
  • Each home should have at least two different entrance and exit routes.

You can learn more about the Firewise program at this website, or contact your local Emergency Management Office.





White County encourages residents to register for CodeRED Warning System

Press Release


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — White County residents are reminded of the vitality of enrolling in the CodeRED emergency notification system. This system allows the county to alert citizens of emergencies such as, evacuations, severe weather, missing persons and more.

During a recent emergency event, CodeRed was utilized to send notifications to citizens in the area, making hundreds of calls in a matter of minutes. It is imperative that users maintain accurate records in the system. If you change your number or move, you should update your information in CodeRed, to be able to still receive this vital information.

In the event of an emergency, social media is not always updated as timely. CodeRED is the primary way citizens will be notified. The messages will be delivered by phone call, text message or email through the CodeRed system.
To receive Emergency notifications, residents and businesses must first visit White Counties Emergency Notification enrollment page at

Individuals are encouraged to enter both a cell phone number and email address as well as to select the types of weather warnings they wish to receive. There is also a free download app on the Google Play Store and the App Store.

“The app works similarly to our current CodeRed system.” Said David Murphy, Public Safety Director “If you have the app downloaded and are in an affected area of the alert, a notification will be sent through the app to alert you of the issues.”

CodeRed is just one tool to better prepare yourself and your family for an emergency event.

Last week was National Severe Weather Preparedness week. It stresses the importance of having a plan and being prepared for emergencies. In the event there is a wildfire, like what we have seen this week, and you are forced to evacuate, you would only have minutes to gather what you can and get out of the area.

Visit or to learn more about emergency preparedness, having a plan and making an emergency kit.

For more information and assistance, you may call White County Public Safety at 706-865-9500.





Unicoi Wildfire Monday morning update

Press Release


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – White County Public Safety Director David Murphy provided the following update on the Unicoi Wildfire that has now burned 180 acres of forest land.

Estimated acres burned/involved = 180

USFS crews worked through the night keeping lines in tow. The reports are very good on the containment. Weather will play a significant role today as low relative humidity and wind speeds are concerned.

Unicoi left flank Division Alpha on top ridge is of primary concern with winds pushing into this area.

USFS and GFC will be working this event through the day. White County Fire Services will be on alert of structural protection. Additional stations have been manned today.

  1. Sullens assigned to Unified Command for liaison and support.

USFS PIO on site in ICP.

We continue with TYPE 3 Incident Command and Complexity.

Smith Creek Trail is closed.  Anna Ruby and Unicoi State Park is open but on alert for closure if necessary.

Planning meeting at 2PM at Unified Command.


Here is the latest update on winds and other parameters for the Unicoi Fire as of 6:15 AM Monday morning.

Winds: West-northwest surface winds will increase to 8-12 mph today with occasional gusts between 15-18 mph possible. On Tuesday, southeast surface winds will be relatively light (that is, generally under 5 mph).

Humidity: Relative humidity will bottom out around 25% this afternoon, mainly between 1 PM and 5 PM, and recover to 60% to 70% overnight into early Tuesday morning. Relative humidity will drop to around 35% mainly between 1 PM and 5 PM on Tuesday afternoon.

Sky Cover: No cloud cover is expected today. Some high clouds (cirrus) will be possible on Tuesday. Low-level cloud cover will increase on Wednesday, with Thursday being mostly cloudy to overcast.

Rain: There is a slight chance of rain showers on Wednesday afternoon and evening. Widespread showers are expected on Thursday with thunderstorms possible. Periods of moderate to heavy rain are expected, and accumulated rainfall from early Thursday morning to early Friday morning could total nearly 3 inches.

Severe Weather Preparedness Week Feb. 7-11

Press Release

WHITE COUNTY, Ga.– Starting Feb. 7, White County  will recognize the week of February 7-11 as Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Each day White County Public Safety will provide information, tips and links on
their Facebook page,

Each year White County receives threats of severe weather in the form of thunderstorms, tornadoes, lightning and flooding. This week serves as a reminder to review emergency procedures and prepare for weather-related hazards.

Monday, February 7th focuses on Family Preparedness. Have a plan for when severe weather strikes.

Purchase a NOAA weather radio and be sure your mobile device receives Wireless Emergency Alerts. Residents can also sign up for weather alerts from Code Red by visiting and clicking the link for “Receive Emergency Notifications.”

Tuesday, February 8th focuses on Thunderstorm Storm Safety. Learn the difference between a watch and a warning.

Wednesday, February 9th focuses on Tornado Safety. Weather permitting, White County will participate in the monthly testing of Tornado Sirens. Statewide schools, businesses and other groups are encouraged to practice their severe weather/tornado safety actions and procedures.

Thursday, February 10th focuses on Lightening Safety. Learn what to do when lightening threatens your area.

Friday, February 11th focuses on Flash Flooding & Flood Safety. Learn what to do if trapped by moving water.

White County Public Safety Director David Murphy said Severe Weather Preparedness Week is a good time for individuals, families, schools and businesses to evaluate their preparedness for a severe weather event.

For more information and assistance, you may call White County Public Safety at 706-865-9500.

Board of Commissioners introduces new department directors


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – The White County Board of Commissioners introduced two new county employees at Monday’s work session and called meeting – Derrick Canupp, director of public works and Kimberly McEntire, director of parks and recreation.

To Board approved several land use permits.

The application of Benjamin and Samantha Boatright for a conditional use permit (CUP) to be placed in the short-term rental program on 1.78 acres located at 355 Chastain Road was approved 5-0.

Charlene Kent’s application for a CUP to be placed into the short-term rental program on 3.58 acres located at 4845 Hwy. 255 South in Cleveland was approved 4-0 with Commissioner Craig Bryant recused.

The Board also unanimously approved Paul Seabolt’s request for a variance from Land Use Regulation ArticleXXII – definitions of terms/cemetery family plots on one acre located on Hwy. 284 in Cleveland, The  cemetery, once known as O’Kelly Cemetery,  is also located on what was once a family farm.

Public Safety Director David Murphy asked for and received approval to issue a request for proposal (RFP) for replacement of a 1998 GMC C-8500 fire engine.

Habersham EMC issues scam alert

Press Release

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – White County Public Safety Director David Murphy passed along the following scam alert involving Habersham EMC:

Habersham EMC has been alerted that some members have received calls threatening to turn off their power unless they pay immediately over the phone with the caller.

HEMC employees will never call members to take a payment by phone. Please hang up and report the call to your local law enforcement. Do not give out any personal information. Contact HEMC directly if you have questions or concerns regarding your account at (706) 754 – 2114, (706) 865 – 4362, or (800) 640 – 6812. HEMC members may also monitor their accounts through the online portal or SmartHub mobile app.

Sept. is National Preparedness Month

Press Release

David Murphy


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – We have seen over the last year that the norm can change in a moment. Therefore, it is important for us to take the time, to protect our lives and families, to prepare for unforeseen emergencies. White County Emergency Management Agency, along with the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency, are encouraging residents to prepare for disasters during National Preparedness Month in September.

This month-long initiative is intended to increase awareness and inspire Georgians to be prepared for any natural or man-made disaster. White County will join a nationwide coalition of thousands of private, public, and nonprofit organizations to motivate our citizens to take the necessary steps to ensure their homes, workplaces and communities are prepared for disasters and emergencies of all kinds.

“Over the years, we’ve seen how lives can be changed in an instant, so we need to prepare for all possibilities,” said David Murphy, White County Emergency Management Director. “During National Preparedness Month, we want our citizens to get a jump start on preparing all potential disasters, whether natural or man-made. We must prepare ourselves and families, so that our lives, livelihoods and communities can be protected.”

Each week, there will be topic or theme to focus on, so at the end of the month we should be well prepared. The topics are as follows:

• Make A Plan: Talk to your friends and family about how you will communicate before, during, and after a disaster. Make sure to update your plan based on the Centers for Disease Control recommendations due to the Coronavirus.
• Build A Kit: Gather supplies that will last for several days after a disaster for
everyone living in your home. Don’t forget to consider the unique needs each
person or pet may have in case you have to evacuate quickly. Update your kits
and supplies based on recommendations by the Centers for Disease Control.
• Low-Cost, No-Cost Preparedness: Limit the impacts that disasters have on you and your family. Know the risk of disasters in your area. Learn how to make your home stronger in the face of storms and other common hazards. Check your insurance coverage to make sure it is up to date.
• Teach Youth About Preparedness: Talk to your kids about preparing for
emergencies and what to do in case you are separated. Reassure them by
providing information about how they can get involved.

Residents can learn more tips on how to prepare and plan before a natural or man-made disaster by visiting
To learn about specific risks in your area, contact us at (706) 865-9500 or visit the website above.

As part of the Office of the Governor, the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency collaborates with local, state, and federal governments in partnership with private sector and non-governmental organizations to protect life and property against man-made and natural emergencies. GEMA/HS’s Ready Georgia website and preparedness campaign
provides Georgians with the knowledge needed to effectively prepare for disasters. Go to for information on developing a custom emergency plan and Ready kit

City approves Hazard Mitigation Plan


CLEVELAND, Ga. – The Cleveland City Council approved a resolution to set the millage rate at 5.918 Monday followed by unanimous approval of the multi-jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan as presented by White County Public Safety director David Murphy.

The plan represents a commitment by the County and the cities of Cleveland and Helen to disaster preparedness and establishes a vision for reducing hazard risks and proposing specific action to reduce identified vulnerabilities.

“This has been going on for two years,” Murphy said. “City staff has been involved in the process. We’ve had representatives from the County, the City of Cleveland, and the City of Helen. The multi-jurisdictional plan has now been sent to FEMA for final review and approval. Part of the process to get final approval from FEMA is to have all the jurisdictions that are affected to adopt the plan.”

The County held a public information meeting on May 18 at the County Commission meeting room to allow the public an opportunity to review the plan and provide comments and suggestions.

Police Chief Jeff Shoemaker said his department had a very busy June. His department reported 2,346 incidents, including 850 premise checks, 694 public assists, 23 vehicle accidents, 105 investigative reports and 115 traffic citations.

Shoemaker asked for and received Council approval to declare as surplus three police vehicles that are no longer in service. He also received unanimous approval to purchase one Dodge Durango patrol vehicle from Jacky Jones Ford in the amount of $34,184.

Council gave first consideration to a draft ordinance that would permit short-term rentals within the city. Councilwoman Rebecca Yardley expressed concern about permitting process lacking an opportunity for the public to speak in favor of or in opposition to the application and the need for a new site inspection if the home is sold.

The proposed ordinance will come back before council at a future meeting.




FM Global Grant will bolster White County fire prevention efforts


CLEVELAND, Ga —  FM Global, one of the world’s largest commercial property insurers, has awarded White County Fire Services a $3,000 fire prevention grant. Director of Public Safety David Murphy received the award on behalf of the county.

The award will be used to assist with pre-incident planning to efficiently collect and track data related to local community buildings. The information will help the fire service respond in an emergency situation. Because fire continues to be the leading cause of property damage worldwide, during the past 40 years FM Global has contributed millions of dollars in fire prevention grants to fire service organizations around the globe. Locally, the company has awarded grants to several Georgia-based organizations.

Michael Spaziani, assistant vice president – manager of the fire prevention grant program said, “At FM Global, we strongly believe the majority of property damage is preventable, not inevitable. Far too often, inadequate budgets prevent those organizations working to prevent fire from being as proactive as they would like to be. With additional financial support, grant recipients are actively helping to improve property risk in the communities they serve.”

Through its Fire Prevention Grant Program, FM Global awards grants to fire departments—as well as national, state, regional, local and community organizations worldwide—that best demonstrate a need for funding, where dollars can have the most demonstrable impact on preventing fire, or mitigating the damage it can quickly cause.

To learn more about FM Global’s Fire Prevention Grant Program and other resources for the fire service, please visit Established nearly 200 years ago, FM Global is a mutual insurance company whose capital, scientific research capability and engineering expertise are solely dedicated to property risk management and the resilience of its client-owners. These owners, who share the belief that most of the property loss is preventable, represent many of the world’s largest organizations, including one of every three Fortune 500 companies. They work with FM Global to better understand the hazards that can impact their business continuity in order to make cost-effective risk management decisions, combining property loss prevention with insurance protection.

Public Safety Director Murphy presents Hazard Mitigation Plan


EMA Director David Murphy

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – Public Safety Director David Murphy presented the 2021 Multi-Jurisdictional Hazard Mitigation Plan Update developed by  Emergency Management Tuesday in the Board of Commission Chambers at the County Administration Building.

The plan establishes a vision and guiding principles for reducing hazard risk, and proposes specific mitigation actions to eliminate or reduce identified vulnerabilities. Without the plan, the cities and counties are not eligible for pre- and post-disaster funding from FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency).

“This is a process we go through every five years,” Murphy said. “We’re required by FEMA to have a hazard mitigation plan in place for the community.” The community includes the White County, unincorporated areas, Sautee Nacoochee, the City of Helen and the City of Cleveland. All communities are represented on the planning committee

Murphy provided a Hazard Risk Analyses Supplement to the plan that was prepared by the Carl Vinson Institute of Government at the University of Georgia that is available on the county website at

“We always look at protecting life and property in everything we do, and in every plan we write for our communities.” he said. “That’s our No. 1 goal.” The plan attempts to reduce the long-term risk of damage to the quality of life, environment and economy through implementation of effective risk- reduction measures.

Once the plan is finalized, it goes to FEMA for approval and then must be approved by the City of Helen, City of Cleveland and White County. That approval process makes them eligible to receive pre-disaster grants to purchase things like outdoor warning sirens, emergency notification systems, safe shelters, flood mitigation and property. “It also puts us in a position where we can receive post-disaster funding,” Murphy said.

White County is currenty working on two disaster declarations. Hurricane Zeta cost the county about $160,000 in response and the thunderstorms that blew through at the end of March cost about $130,000.Without an approved plan in place, the County would not be eligible to receive federal funding for those events.



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