Tag Archives: Hall County

Criminal Investigations Division’s Tips for Holiday Shopping

Community: Ahead of the Holidays, sharing some sound advice for shopping online from our Criminal Investigations Division.

Dear Nixle User,

Around the Holidays every year, the “Grinch” rears his ugly head as a criminal opportunist. Don’t let yourself become his latest victim. Take the advice of our Criminal Investigations Division and protect your finances, as you shop for family and friends this Christmas!

Hall County Sheriff’s Office Criminal Investigators advise us of some popular scams and gimmicks to avoid when you make your list and check it twice:

• Gift cards have gained in popularity in recent Christmases past. Why spend a lot of time in choosing a gift that someone may or may not be thrilled about receiving, when you could simply pick up a gift card from their favorite store for them? According to the Better Business Bureau, approximately 80% of the shoppers this season will be purchasing gift cards. The profits for companies selling and redeeming them will soar into the billions. As a scam artist, a small percentage of that would easily be enough to survive on until the next Holiday shopping season.

In one preferred scheme, the scam artist will enter a store, locate the gift card rack and covertly copy numbers off the cards. The scammer then checks online, or calls the 1-800 number on the card, to see if someone has purchased the cards. As soon as a card is activated, the scam artist goes on an online shopping spree. By the time your loved one tries to use the card you gave them, the money is gone. You can protect yourself by shopping directly with a reputable retailer. While you are in the store, check to see if the security code on the backside of the gift card you are wanting to buy has been scratched off. If so, there is a good chance that a scam artist is simply waiting for you to “take the bait”. Bring that issue to the attention of store personnel, so that no one else becomes an unwitting victim. Before you purchase the card, inspect it to make sure that any packaging has not been tampered with. It may also be wise to ask a store clerk for a card that has been kept behind the counter, when available.

• Investigators are also advising the neighborhood watch groups throughout Hall County
to keep a watch out for package thieves. Online shopping is at its peak during this time of the year, as well. Try to schedule someone from your household to be at your residence when you expect the package to be delivered. You may even consider having the parcel dropped at the nearest location along your evening commute. Leaving an unattended package on your doorsteps is simply asking for the attention of a criminal opportunist. In parts of metro Atlanta, thieves have even been caught on camera walking right up to the front doors of residences and snagging packages from the doorstep. The suspects follow delivery trucks into neighborhoods and wait for their opportunity to strike when your home is unoccupied.

Here are a few general ways to protect yourself from a variety of suspicious activities as you deck the halls:
1. Do your homework before shopping. Research the interests of family on your gift list, the gifts you feel appropriate for them and the store from which you plan to purchase the gifts. have your list, check it twice… or, maybe even thrice!
2. If you plan on doing the majority of your gifting online, search each store’s website for a working customer service number. Also, consider driving to an actual brick and mortar store location and asking them if the website is legit. FACT: If you see grammatical errors or spelling mistakes on the company website, that could be a major “RED FLAG” indicating a scam is in the works.
3. Watch for suspicious giveaway offers that may pop up on your Facebook and Twitter feeds. Security software firms indicate that they’ve found suspicious pages advertising raffles for two of the season’s hottest gifts — the PlayStation 4 and Xbox One. These suspicious “giveaways” and “raffles” appear to be using the popular gaming consoles to lure people into unknowingly signing up for paid text messaging schemes. The offers solicit “Likes” or “Shares” to get distributed on social media feeds. The more the offer is shared, the more likely people are to buy in. Be wary of any “giveaways” or “raffles” that direct you to a survey site asking for personal information and your mobile phone number. Only sign up for promotions offered by reputable organizations, or for offers you know to be legitimate.
4. Grandparent Scams: Scammers will target the elderly over the holidays with a “desperate call” or email from a “stranded” grandchild or loved one… The person calling will claim they have had an unfortunate situation occur and need bail money wired to them immediately for release from jail. Many senior citizens do not communicate through social media outlets. They depend on the evening news and local newspaper to provide them with information. Make sure you become another dependable source of information for them. Provide them with all of the information you collect regarding scams. Alert them to suspicious activities by explaining the ulterior motives of the new age cunning thieves. Give BACK, over the holiday season, to those who have so richly blessed you throughout the years with their guidance and by sharing their own life experiences!

There are other pearls of wisdom we would like to share with you during this joyous season, but you may contact us at any time to inquire about particular instances of suspicious activities. Don’t let the Grinch get the best of you this holiday season, call (770)533-7659 for our Crime Prevention Unit. You may also contact us through our non-emergency dispatch line at (770)536-8812, if you feel that you have become the victim of an actual scam. Have a safe and happy holiday season, from all your friends at the Hall County Sheriff’s Office!


Local Artist Partners with Hall Co. Animal Shelter to Raise Funds

Local artist partners with Hall Co. Animal Shelter to raise funds


News from Hall County Government

A local artist is partnering with the Hall County Animal Shelter to help raise funds for the organization.


For a small fee, Beth Henson is painting murals of people’s pets on the inside walls of the Hall County Animal Shelter.  Proceeds from the paintings go toward the shelter’s adoption programs.


“My goal is to create a timeless celebration of our community’s beloved animals,” Henson said.  “They add a unique joy and richness to our lives, and this mural will honor our four-legged family members, as well as greatly benefit the Hall County Animal Shelter.”


Both the owner’s name and the pet’s name will be included in the mural.  Paintings can be made of current pets or as a memorial tribute.


“This is a great way to give back and honor the four-legged friends who mean so much to all of us,” said Cindy Langman, program coordinator with the Hall County Animal Shelter.


Additional details, including an order form and payment information, can be found athttp://www.hallcounty.org/publicsafety/animal_shelter.asp.


Hall County Fire Services reminder you: On November 2, Change Your Clock Change Your Battery®

Let Daylight Saving Time serve as a reminder for
fire safety and prevention

HCFS logo cross only

News from Hall County Fire Services

Daylight Saving Time ends Sunday, Nov. 2, and marks the 27th year of the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery® program, sponsored by Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs. The Change Your Clock Change Your Battery® Program reminds us to change and test the batteries in our smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors.  The message is simple and the habit can be lifesaving.
Hall County Fire Services reminds our residents that one simple step can help save their lives and the lives of those around them. Everyone is encouraged to use the extra hour they “gain” from Daylight Saving Time to change the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, test alarms and remind friends, family, neighbors and fellow community members to do the same.
“Eighty percent of child fire fatalities occur in homes without working smoke alarms. It’s a tragic statistic that could be reduced by adopting the simple habit of the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery® program,” said Chief Scott Cagle, Fire Marshal for Hall County.

SC website pic

According to the National Fire Protection Agency, 71% of smoke alarms which failed to operate had missing, disconnected or dead batteries. Changing smoke alarm batteries at least once a year, testing those alarms and reminding others to do the same are some of the simplest, most effective ways to reduce these tragic deaths and injuries.
Why This Program is Lifesaving
“The peak time for home fire fatalities is between 11 p.m. and 7 a.m.
when most families are sleeping,”
says Cagle “Smoke alarm maintenance is a simple, effective way to
reduce home fire deaths. Children and senior citizens are most at risk, and a working smoke alarm can give them the extra seconds they need to get out safely.”
Tragically, home fires injure and kill thousands each year. Those most at risk include:
• Children — Home fires kill 500 children ages 14 and under each year. Roughly three‐quarters of child fire fatalities under age 15 occurred in homes without working smoke alarms.
• Seniors — Adults 75 and older are 2.8 times more likely to die in a home fire.

Pass it On
Twenty‐seven years ago, Energizer and the International Association of Fire Chiefs recognized a disturbing trend that many home fire fatalities were taking place in homes without working smoke alarms. So through the years, the two have worked together along with thousands of fire departments nationwide on the Change Your Clock Change Your Battery® program to help reduce and hopefully, someday eliminate this number by reminding communities to check, change and test their smoke alarm batteries.

Twenty-seven years ago, we did not have Facebook, Twitter, email and other tools to quickly and easily share this kind of information. Now we all have countless ways to spread the word, so activate your network of friends and connections to help save lives in connection with the time change.
A working smoke alarm doubles your chance of surviving a home fire. In addition, people are encouraged to use their extra hour gained to help out at a local fire department.
For more information about fire safety, call Hall County Fire Services at 770-531-6838 or visit our website at www.hallcountyfire.org
Source: Fire statistics were obtained from reports by the Fire Analysis and Research Division of the National Fire Protection Association. See www.nfpa.org for more information.
© 2014 Energizer. Energizer, Energizer Bunny design, card and label
graphics and other marks are trademarks of Energizer

Image from Gainesville Times

Bus Driver Honored at BOE meeting

Jan. 29, 2013 – School Bus Driver Bertha Hutson was honored last night at the Hall County Board of Education meeting.

She was recognized for her actions related to a Jan. 3 school bus wreck near Athens Highway and Barrett Road in East Hall.

Hutson’s bus, carrying 20 students from Myers Elementary School was rear-ended by a tractor-trailer hauling heavy machinery.

Officials said two students complained of “minor injuries” but were not transported to the hospital.

Hutson suffered a shoulder injury and was taken to Northeast Georgia Medical Center.

She said she is expecting surgery in February and she will not be able to drive for the rest of the school year.

Jewel Armour, the school system’s executive director of operations, told the school board, “The good part about this is that she had followed the training we had given her.

“We teach our drivers, as they unload students, to empty from the back of the bus, so that if somebody does hit the bus in the rear, there are no students back there. And (Hutson) had done that, fortunately.”

“The other thing is … even though she was injured, she kept those kids under control … until we got some help there for her.

She just did a good job, and we’re proud of her.”

Superintendent Will Schofield said that when he arrived at the scene, Hutson was in the middle of the action with her arms around students.

“You are our hero and we thank you for taking care of our youngsters,” he said.

Board Chairman Nath Morris presented Hutson, who was accompanied to the meeting by husband Doug, with a certificate and a $50 gift card to Longstreet Cafe.

She said that in November, she will have driven for the school system for 14 years.


Threat Against Flowery Branch High School a Hoax

Jan. 29, 2013 – Officials determined that the threat made against Flowery Branch High School was a hoax, but not before some 1,000 students were checked out of class yesterday after hearing about the message.

Hall County Sheriff’s Office spokesman Sgt. Kiley Sargent said, the message was sent over the weekend through InstaGram and mentioned “shooting” but did not name a specific person.

The message was brought to the attention of school officials Monday as classes began.

Sargent said deputies responded to the school, but the threat was so vague, they did not recommend the school to move to a lockdown.

Hall County Schools Superintendent Will Schofield discussed the issue at last night’s regularly scheduled Board of Education meeting.

He said about 1,000 students were checked out of school during the day.

He said the school went into a “gray lockdown.”

Schofield explained that that involves “a lot of adults out in the hall securing all the outdoor entrances.”

Officials said Georgia State Patrol troopers also assisted in traffic control.

By 10:30 a.m., Principal Mark Coleman announced to the school what had happened.

“But it was orderly and the vast majority of our parents were very supportive,” Schofield said. “Dr.Coleman and his staff and the sheriff’s (office) did a great job.”


MLK Jr Holiday in Hall County

Jan. 18, 2013 – The Martin Luther King, Junior Holiday will be observed on Monday, January 21, so the City of Gainesville will be closed.

Hall County’s administrative offices, courts and community centers will be also closed Monday.

However, the landfill and compactor sites will remain open.

Solid waste and recycling will be picked up Tuesday for Monday customers.
Tuesday customers will be picked up Wednesday.
Thursday and Friday will be normal schedule pick up days.

For more information on garbage pick up call Solid Waste Supervisor Billy Carter at 770-532-0493.

For more Hall County information visit hallcounty.org


Deputy Controls Armed Man Attempting to Flee

Jan 16, 2013 – Yesterday afternoon an armed drug suspect attempted to flee from a Deputy.

According to Hall County Sheriff’s Sgt Stephen Wilbanks around 3:50 PM yesterday 33 year-old Jeremy Peck was arrested after struggling with an officer.

The officer was able to hang on until back-up units arrived at the Marathon gas station on Athens Highway at Roy Parks Road.

According to Wilbanks, the suspect had a handgun in his waistband. No one was injured.

He’s charged with possession of a concealed weapon, possession of methamphetamine, possession of prescription drugs not in original container and felony obstruction of officers.


BOE approved local tax funds to be Used in Safety Upgrades

Jan. 15, 2013 – Yesterday the Board of Education approved $100,000 in special purpose local option sales tax funds for safety upgrades to the county’s 33 public school campuses.

The upgrades range from adding peepholes in delivery doors to replacing locks to upgrading communication equipment on campus.

Superintendent Will Schofield told the Times, “It runs the entire gamut.”

He said, “Nothing is major, but when you’ve got 33 different campuses it adds up. So we want to make sure whether it’s an 8-foot piece of fencing or whether it’s a door, that we’ve done everything we possibly can to make our campuses as safe as we can.”

Schofield said the upgrades and expenses are something that the system looks at yearly, but in the aftermath of the Dec. 14 shooting at Sandy Hook, the improvement list was expedited.

The system has also been working on its emergency and security preparedness plan, something officials said is a continuous process, not just to address the increased concern for school safety.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office also had plans, following Sheriff Gerald Couch’s inauguration, to sit down with school officials and review the plans.

Sgt. Earl Roach, a longtime school resource officer for Hall County, told the Times that the sheriff’s office has made an increased presence on school campuses, especially elementary schools, a part of the daily patrol.

Roach said, “The sheriff’s office has asked the officer to ride by a school in their district and just say hello — make that part of their routine patrol and not an extra patrol.”

Each middle and high school currently has an officer assigned to it through the school resource officer program, established in 1999. Through the program, trained deputies are assigned to each area school, becoming permanent fixtures on the campuses.

The system plans to launch a school safety website before the end of the month for parents to use as a reference.


April 1st Property Tax Deadline

Jan. 14, 2013 – Hall County officials wish to remind property owners in the county that April 1st is the deadline for filing a Taxpayer Return of Real Estate or Personal Property with the Tax Assessors office.

In Hall County, Real and Personal Property forms can be found on the county Tax Assessors office web page under “Forms and Applications”. Forms must be received or postmarked by April 1 with the official USPS postmark in order to be considered timely.