Positive Rabies alert in White County

Press Release

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — Public Safety Director David Murphy reported today that a dog has come into contact with a rabid fox in the Arthur Seabolt Road area. The fox was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab Virology Section in Decatur. White County Environmental Health was advised Wednesday the fox tested positive for rabies.

This is the second confirmed case of rabies in White County in 2021.

Animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their domesticated pets for rabies. Please call your veterinarian for an appointment.


Board works to address critical shortage of ambulance service

Business, News

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – The explosion of COVID-19 delta variant has not only caused a shortage of hospital beds at many hospitals in Georgia but a critical shortage of personnel to man ambulances in White County as well.

Public Safety Director David Murphy said the county’s Status 13 calls increased by 500 percent from August 2020 until August 2021 due to the virus. Status 13 cases are those when there are no ambulances available. “Those calls receive a fire department first responder usually and an ambulance from a neighboring county or one that is returning from the hospital that may not be in the county yet,” said Murphy.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center receives most White County patients. Murphy noted that due to the shortage of beds at NGMC, a large number of patients are being treated in the ambulance that brought them which creates a critical shortage of ambulances in White County Murphy said.

As of Monday, NGMC is providing care for 284 COVID patients, 84 percent are unvaccinated and 95 percent of those in critical condition are unvaccinated.

White County Public Safety personnel have experienced their own COVID issues. Murphy said two 911 call center staff, four firefighters and five Sheriff’s Office personnel have tested positive.

The county has an additional ambulance that is not being used due to the shortage of personnel.  The Board of Commissioners voted unanimously Monday to spend $39,698 per month through November to provide a short-term solution while Murphy and his staff work on a long-term solution.


Guidelines for summer safety



WHITE COUNTY, Ga. — Public Safety Director David Murphy issued the following guidelines to help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and injury or illness from the summer heat.

As our community continues phased re-openings in light of COVID-19, please continue to follow the safety guidelines to prevent the spread, and don’t forget to prepare for the extreme heat that summer can bring, too.


  • Extreme heat events can happen anywhere and may occur quickly and without warning.
  • Older adults, children, and sick or overweight individuals are disproportionately affected by extreme heat events.
  • Humidity increases the feeling of heat as measured by a heat index.
  • Exposing yourself to the sun or temperatures higher than 77 degrees Fahrenheit does not protect you from COVID-19.
  • Never leave children, adults, or pets in a closed car.

The following tips can help you beat the heat:

  • Stay cool indoors by using air conditioning, if possible.
  • During extreme heat events, choose a cloth face covering that has breathable fabric, such as cotton, instead of polyester.
  • Avoid strenuous and high-energy activities.
  • If you’re outside, find shade. Wear a hat wide enough to protect your face.
  • Wear loose, lightweight, and light-colored clothing.
  • Check on family members and neighbors by phone or text to maintain social distancing and prevent the spread of COVID-19.
  • Know the signs of heat-related illness like heat cramps, heat exhaustion, and heat stroke.
  • Drink plenty of fluids to stay hydrated. If you or someone you care for is on a special diet, ask a doctor how best to accommodate it.
  • Do not use electric fans when the temperature outside is more than 95 degrees. Using fans could increase the risk of heat-related illness. Fans create air flow and a false sense of comfort, but do not reduce body temperature.
  • Finally, if you are traveling, be sure to research what local rules are in place to slow the spread of COVID-19. They may affect your plans. To learn more about how to protect yourself from extreme heat, check out FEMA’s Extreme Heat Information Sheet on our website at www.whitecounty.net

We hope you enjoy your summer while staying healthy and safe!

For more information, contact White County EMA at (706) 865-9500 or visit www.ready.gov


Murphy warns city, county officials to brace for very serious weather system


WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – White County Public Safety Director David Murphy briefed city and county officials Saturday (April 11) on a severe weather system that has the potential to be in the top five most severe systems in the last 10 years.

David Murphy

“Comparing to the last 15 events of similar nature, this storm system is likely to produce damaging winds, tornadoes, heavy rain with potential flooding and significant hail,” Murphy said.

“All risk categories with the exception of hail has increased and could likely increase further east as the system develops in the next 24 hours.”

The National Weather Service warned that all of north and central Georgia will be in the higher risks categories, starting Sunday afternoon, and lasting through the night, into Monday. Confidence for damaging winds and tornadoes is a four (4) out of five (5).

Said Murphy, “This storm system requires all of us to pay attention to weather events as they develop, monitor states to our west and prepare for the storm to move over our area. All departments, both city and county need to review your emergency plans, and prepare to respond and activate your systems.   Off duty personnel are subject to recall, be on alert.”

Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com



Public Safety Director says not all coronavirus cases are being reported


David Murphy

WHITE COUNTY, Ga. – According the Georgia Department of Public Health, (DPH) as of noon today (March 30) White County had only one confirmed case of COVID-19 but Public Safety Director David Murphy said he believes there are more.

The DPH reported 2,809 confirmed cases in the state of Georgia today with 87 deaths. During the Board of Commissioners called teleconference meeting this morning, Murphy said, he believes some cases have not been reported.

“Some people take care of themselves at home and never go to a doctor, especially those who have minor symptoms,” he explained. Murphy added that White County first responders have encountered a dozen or more patients with coronavirus symptoms in the last two weeks.

All first responders have been tested for the virus and, so far, none have tested positive or even shown any symptoms. Murphy said they are required to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) on all calls and that 911 dispatch asks a set of pre-determined questions to determine if a patient has coronavirus-like symptoms.

Murphy also said the county is having issues with people not obeying the order to stay at home. The Forest Service closed the national forests last week and county commissioners adopted a resolution declaring a state of emergency in White County. The resolution states, “Yonah Preserve and all White County-owned recreation facilities shall be closed for business.” The state of emergency extends through April 13.

But Murphy and Sheriff Neal Walden said a large number of people from Atlanta are coming to the Yonah Mountain trailhead anyway. “They ignore the signs and park on the side of the road,” Murphy said. Someone pried open the gate at the trailhead over the weekend.” No damage was done, but the gate has now been chained.


Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com


Commissioners proclaim 9-1-1 Week in White County


CLEVELAND, Ga. – White County Commissioners meeting in a combined work session and called meeting Monday presented a proclamation declaring 9-1-1 week in White County.

The White County 9-1-1 Central Communications Division is an integral part of the White County Office of Public Safety. The division provided optimum communications for the White County Sheriff’s Office, Fire Service, Emergency Medical Services, Animal Control, Cleveland Police Department, Cleveland Fire Department, Helen Police Department and Helen Fire Department.

The E 9-1-1 Communications Center is a 24/7 operation and is manned by four 12 hour shifts utilizing three to four communications officers per shift.

The Center processes phone calls from three sources, 9-1-1 emergency lines, alarm lines and administrative lines. Emergency line are accessed by dialing 9-1-1 or by being transferred from another 9-1-1 center. Alarm lines are used only by alarm monitoring companies reporting various alarms. Administrative lines are uses for all other phone calls.

Public Safety Director David Murphy told commissioners, “In 2018, the call volume increased by 29 percent to 136,940. Radio transmissions/incidents decreased by 12 percent to 164,378.

He added, “The busiest hours of the day are from 8 a.m. until midnight with the busiest days tied between Tuesday and Friday. The busiest agency we serve is the sheriff’s office and the second busiest is the Cleveland Police Department. ”

The 9-1-1 center is led by Chief Leah Sullens.


Fetch Your News is a hyper local news outlet that covers Dawson, Lumpkin, White, Fannin, Gilmer, Pickens, Union, Towns and Murray counties as well as Cherokee County in N.C. FYN attracts 300,000+ page views per month, 3.5 million impressions per month and approximately 15,000 viewers per week on FYNTV.com and up to 60,000 Facebook page reach. If you would like to follow up-to-date local events in any of those counties, please visit us at FetchYourNews.com




Rabies Warning Issued by County Government

Business, News, Press Release

Cleveland, Ga – Public Safety Director David Murphy issued a positive rabies alert for all of White County after a skunk tested positive.

This is to advise that a family dog recently had contact with a rabid skunk in the Paradise Valley Road area of White County. The skunk was shipped to the Georgia Public Health Lab – Virology Section in Decatur. White County Environmental Health was advised Wednesday, August 14, 2019 that the Skunk tested positive for rabies. This is the first confirmed case of rabies in White County in 2019.

Positive alert signs will be posted in the area where the rabid skunk was located. If you live in this area and have concerns of rabid animal exposure, please contact White County Environmental Health at 706-348-7698 during normal business hours.

Animal owners are encouraged to vaccinate their domesticated pets for rabies. Please call your local veterinarian for an appointment.

David Murphy Reports on Weather Conditions


CLEVELAND, Ga. — White County Public Safety Director David Murphy reports that White County apparently dodged a bullet last night.

In an email this morning, Murphy said, “A warm layer of air from the Gulf of Mexico kept our precipitation liquid longer than expected resulting is less snow accumulation. We averaged 2.5” county wide with a few higher amounts in some locations.

“While the precipitation has all but ended, we will see a flurry or two for the next few hours. Temps are not expected to get above 32 today so we may have some travel issues especially on the secondary roads.

“We will get some sun today and that may help melt some of the snow but we should remain below freezing so most of what is out there will remain probably through Sunday or maybe even Monday. Primary Roads seem to be in good shape.

“(Temperature will drop to 12 tonight with wind chill of -2. Sunny and 33 Sunday and the wind chill may dip to -1 at times. Sunday night 16 and up to 36 on Monday.

Stackhouse Fire Sends Firefighters Scrambling


CLEVELAND, Ga. — Public Safety Director David Murphy reports White County Fire Services responded at 3:52 a.m. Wednesday, to a working fire inside a stackhouse at 211 Hidden Pond Road in White county.

Murphy said, “Exposures were a concern as chicken houses were located within 40-50 feet of the working fire. rews knocked down the main fire at 4:13 a.m., and reduced the response of all other incoming units. The fire remained on the interior of the building and firefighters remained on scene until 6:45 a.m.

Firefighters from Station 2, Station 4, mutual aid from City of Cleveland Fire Department and Lee Arrendale State Prison Fire Department were summoned to the incident.

No injuries were reported and the fire apparently started by combustion of stored materials, according to Murphy.the structure.

Firefighters Kept Busy on Weekend Leading Up to Thanksgiving


CLEVELAND, Ga. – While most Georgians were making plans to celebrate Thanksgiving with their families, White County’s public safety personnel, police and firefighters spent a busy weekend fulfilling their missions.

Public Safety Director David Murphy said in an email firefighters from all White County stations responded to many incidents throughout the weekend, including 10 ilegal burns and brush fires medical calls assisting Emergency Medical Services and auto accident.

On Sunday alone, the calls included structural fires and lost persons on Yonah Mountain.

Early Sunday morning, Murphy said, fire units responded on auto-aide to the city of Helen for a reported Commercial Fire on Edelweiss Strasse, and were later cancelled.

At 10:35 AM, 911 received a call of a structure fire in a commercial building at the Allison Honey Building off Town Creek Road.  Fire Station 5, 6 and 2 along with mutual aid from the City of Cleveland responded to the incident and found approximately a 1200-square foot wood frame structure with heavy fire showing.

Murphy said a quick interior attack knocked down the fire but the building and contents were destroyed.  The fire believed to have started from a wood stove located in the building.  No injuries were reported.

At 11:13 a.m.  911 received a call from two teens on Yonah Mountain. Murphy said, the two had been hiking for about two hours and were lost.  They were off the trail and could not find their way back.  Firefighters from Station 3 and Station 2 responded to the location and located the two hikers at approximately 1:28PM.

At 10:58 p.m., another structure fire was reported at 224 Magnolia Drive. firefighters from Station 2, Station 3 and Mutual Aid from Helen City and Lee Arrendale Correctional Institute responded to the incident. Upon first arrival of Engine 2, they reported heavy fire in a two-story structure.

Firefighters battled the blaze until 12:38 a.m. when the decision was made to go into defensive operations. The Georgia Forestry Commission was notified along with the state fire investigator. Murphy said the residence did not have power. He said the fire was apparently caused by a wood stove in the basement.  Firefighters remained on the scene until approximately 7:30 a.m.  No injuries were reported.

“Our firefighters along with the City of Cleveland and City of Helen do a remarkable job, our volunteers are dedicated and we appreciate the sacrifices they make on behalf of our community to keep us safe.”

Structure Fire Reported in Sautee


SAUTEE, Ga. — A fire of unknown origin damaged a dog kennel in Sautee before spreading to a nearby barn, shed and tree canopy Monday but no injuries were reported.

White County firefighters first responded to a 9-1-1 call about a smoldering kennel at 401 Dormitory Hill Road off Garland Bristol Road at 11:42 a.m.

White County Public Safety Director David Murphy said before they arrived, they received a second call that the fire had spread to the barn and shed. The fire spread to a canopy of trees and a full alarm went out.

“That brought Helen City Fire on mutual aid, and Station 2,” Murphy said via email. “Georgia Forestry responded due to an extension in the woods across from the structure.”
Before the fire was brought under control two hours later, about one-half acre had been consumed

“Firefighters did rescue some dogs from the kennel area, and no injuries were reported,” Murphy said, adding he is not aware of any dogs perishing in the fire.

Commissioners Hold Marathon Work Session



CLEVELAND, Ga. — The White County employees’ retirement plan, a budget amendment for the Tax Assessor’s office, purchase of vehicles for the Sheriff’s Office and Fire Department and inclusion of county roads in the Local Maintenance Improvement Grant program were key items on the agenda during a marathon two-and-a-half hour work session Monday.

Commissioners expressed some dissatisfaction with the retirement plan and are considering a change from the current provider Variable Annuity Life Insurance Company (VALIC).”

Chairman Travis Turner said commissioners wanted the answer to two key questions: Would employees save money by making a switch and would they get a comparable return on their investment.

Robert Kim made a detailed slide presentation for an alternative vendor, ACCG/GEBCORP, a retirement arm of the Association County Commissioners of Georgia, that deals exclusively with the public sector.

After hearing the presentation, commissioners said they would review the plan and make a decision in the next couple of weeks.

There was a request by the Assessor’s Office for an additional $8,161 in funding due to a discrepancy found in an audit report.

After some discussion, commissioners decided that the bridges on Town Creek Road and New Bridge Road were most in need of repair under the Local Maintenance and Improvement Grant (LMIG) program. The estimated cost is $489,462.20 but bids have not been let and the actual amount could differ.

There was also a discussion about road paving projects in each commission district. Among the roads being considered are Steve Lewis, Sam Craven, Stanley Nix Danny Palmer, Joe Franklin, Arthur Allen, Apple Drive, Yonah East Estates, Mountain Meadow and Mauldin Road.

Commissioners also heard a request from Sheriff Neal Walden for two new Ford Explorers in the amount of $71,113.92 from Jacky Jones Ford to be paid for with SPLOST funds.

Public Safety Director David Murphy has been looking to purchase a tanker for the Fire Department at an amount not to exceed $75,000 but reported he has been unsuccessful. He asked commissioners to increase the monetary limit and authorize him to purchase the vehicle as soon as it is located. He said used fire trucks are in great demand and that when he locates one it is generally sold before can make an offer.

Commissioners held two public hearings. The first was a request by Larry Freeman to redistrict three acres on Duncan Bridge Road from R-1 residential.

The second was a request by Bryan and Theresa Hamilton for a conditional use permit (CUP) for a multi-purpose event venue at 6394 Duncan Bridge Road.

These and other issues will be voted on in the next county commission regular meeting.

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