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Georgia Secretary of State Investigating Washington, Georgia Municipal Election

An investigation is being conducted by the Georgia Secretary of State, Brad Raffensberger, regarding the city of Washington, Georgia 2023 municipal election. Richard Crabbe, videographer, photographer and reporter for the Washington Wilkes Informer, and I, were contacted by an investigator and asked to make statements about the public accessibility to the ballot processing area in the Wilkes County courthouse on election day. On that day, November 7, 2023, I was told I was not allowed in the ballot processing area on the fourth floor of the courthouse. Crabbe stated he was told by Wilkes County probate judge Thomas Charpin that he would not be allowed in the ballot processing area. Crabbe, who has had a distinguished and award-winning career in television journalism, reminded Charpin of the election law that states “the tabulation and consolidation shall be performed in public.” The law also states that the election superintendent may set reasonable rules regarding conduct to avoid interference with tabulating center personnel but it is commonly understood, statewide that for reasons that include transparency and public faith in the fairness of the election process, the public is allowed access and certainly not prohibited from viewing the process. Crabbe said he was also told by Sparky Newsome, who is a member of the Wilkes County board of registrars, that he would not be allowed to be in the area when the votes were tabulated. Crabbe said he was told that the county attorney, Caleb Saggus was consulted on the matter and also said he could not be in the ballot processing area. Board of elections supervisor, Henry Crew was sick on election day and it was unclear who was officially serving in that role, in his place.

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Update; Board Member Removals and Records

Washington, Georgia mayor Bruce Bailey has not yet informed Angela Booker or Alvin Jones of his decision to officially remove them from the housing authority board. At the hearing on March 8, 2023, Bailey was told by attorney Stewart Duggan, who represents the housing authority and thirty public housing authorities throughout the state of Georgia, that the city council and mayor have no authority to remove board members as the housing authority board is funded by the United States Housing and Urban Development Authority (HUD) and is a completely autonomous entity. He went on to say the mayor had no evidence of any wrongdoing on the part of Booker and Jones and had violated open records and open meetings laws. He said the housing authority is functioning well and has $2 million in the bank. Duggan said if Baily does remove them from the board, he will be filing a lawsuit in superior court for these violations. At the end of the hearing, Bailey said he would be making a decision and would notify Booker and Jones. The next housing authority meeting is scheduled to be held on April 24, 2024.

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Roxeann Cobb is Committed to Support Youth Despite Cut in Funding Promised by City Council in 2022.

Roxeann Cobb has a passion for helping youth in Washington, Georgia. In 2019 she started the Four E Youth Organization, a 501c3 non-profit. She is the first African American woman in Wilkes County to start a non-profit organization. The four E’s stand for Educate, Empower, Expose and Encourage. She told me she saw a need in the community to help children and parents by providing things that are quite basic and often taken for granted by others but are lacking for many of the children in Washington-Wilkes. She said she saw that many of the children in our community, particularly African American children, did not have exposure to experiences that would broaden their ideas of the world around them and this limited their thoughts on who they could become and what was available to them. Cobb won Wilkes County Chamber of Commerce Civic Organization of the year and volunteer of the year in 2020.

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Monday Night City Council Meeting Includes Many Proposed Items from our New Mayor Including Honoring Hillary Lindsey, Changes to Who Can be Appointed and Continue to Serve on Boards and Decorum for City Officials

The Washington City Council meeting, to be held Monday February 12 th at 6:00 PM at the Pope Center, will be the second meeting of the newly assembled council. The agenda is one indication of what each member of the council and mayor find priorities for the citizens and the city.

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Are You New to Washington? Welcome!

When Barbara Fulbright moved to Washington in 2019, she didn’t know anyone. Her husband Frank, worked in Columbia County at the time and she was looking for ways to engage in the community and get to know people. She joined some clubs and started to make friends but felt the community could benefit from a more organized method to welcome newcomers and let them know about local resources, events, and businesses. “I spoke to Bill deGolian (former mayor of Washington) about it” she told me. DeGolian agreed there was a need, so Fulbright began volunteering her time to make people who are new to Washington, feel more welcome.

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Andre McLendon Promoted to Georgia State Parks Manager

CRAWFORDVILLE, GA, January 8, 2024 -- Andre McLendon, a longtime Crawfordville resident and manager of A.H. Stephens State Park, was recently promoted to Region 3 Manager of the Georgia State Parks & Historic Sites, a division of the Department of Natural Resources. He will be responsible for guiding management and protection of 12 sites, including Mistletoe, Elijah Clark and Hard Labor Creek state parks.McLendon began his DNR career in 1994 and has managed both A.H. Stephens and Hamburg state parks. He has served in key leadership roles throughout his 29-year career, including filling management vacancies at Fort Yargo, High Falls, Elijah Clark and Hard Labor Creek state parks. He also assists with statewide emergencies such as hurricanes and floods.The Taliaferro County native graduated from DNR Leadership Academy and was class president for the 2019-2020 National State Parks Conference. He serves as a Georgia Park Ranger Academy and Manager-In-Training instructor and was Park Manager of the Year in 2014. Under his leadership, A.H. Stephens State Park received the division’s 2020 Most Outstanding Operations Award and 2021 Most Outstanding Program Award.McLendon and his family look forward to moving into a new home and starting a new journey. He stated that Region 3 has beautiful state parks and good park managers. “This new role gives me a great opportunity to develop new partnerships and assist in making enhancements and improvements to parks throughout the state,” said McLendon. “I look forward to leading my team as we serve the people of this wonderful state of Georgia.”

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Letter from the Editor; why the delay in articles and hope for good things in 2024

As 2023 comes to a close, I want to thank all of you who read and support the Washington Wilkes Informer. There has been a pause in new articles as I have had trouble in obtaining open records documents I have requested, beginning in early December from the city administrator, city clerk, mayor, and city council. I was planning to provide an update on the ethics complaints filed in 2023 that there has been little to no mention of a resolution to, at the city council meetings. I am also working on an article regarding utility deposits and the additional deposits paid for reconnection. All this information is subject to open records law which states it is to be made available within three business days. It has been nearly a month since I requested this information and have still not received it. I will provide more details of this when I do get the documents and write the investigative article. In the meantime, if you or someone you know has paid additional deposits for utility reconnection and are willing to share your experience, please contact me. If you do not want your name mentioned in the article, you can remain anonymous.

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Washington Centarian and World War II Veteran, Evan "Duck" Moore Honored

On Sunday, November 12th, Mr. Evan Moore, known as "Duck" to many, was honored at Mark's Tabernacle in Washington, Georgia. Mr. Moore is 106 years old and shared some of the wisdom he has gained over his lifetime. He was presented with a plaque and poster that was signed by those in attendance. Councilman Larry Hill, who was recently re-elected to his seat on city council was also sworn in and his grandchildren read a statement outlining Hill's goals for his next term in office. Some of the goals were stated as being a reduction in utility rates, more affordable housing, growing businesses and providing more education and career training opportunities. Other elected officials in attendance were Nathaniel Cullars Sr., Newton Gunter and Maceo Mahoney. Mayor Bill deGolian arrived just after the event ended and provided his well wishes and thanks to Mr. Moore. Mr. Moore was asked by an attendee, if he had any advice for the city councilmen and newly elected officials. He replied "Treat everybody right, you treat me like I treat you."

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November City Council Meeting Agenda Includes Amendment to Add Term Limits

The November Washington City Council Meeting, held this coming Monday, November 13th at the Pope Center, will include a vote on term limits for mayor and city council members. Councilman Matt Denard has suggested the action item that would limit the term of a council member or mayor to eight years beginning in 2025. Councilmen Nathaniel Cullars Sr. and Maceo Mahoney, have served more than eight years so would no longer be eligible to serve if the motion passes.

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Letter from the Editor; Reflections on the 2023 Municipal Election

As the sun rose over Washington, Georgia this morning, we knew for certain who will be making important decisions beginning in January, as the mayor and members of city council. It has been a difficult month for Washington and I think everyone will be happy to put this election behind us and try to move forward. I think many of us feel like we’ve gone at least ten rounds in a boxing match and have the bruises to show for it.

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Bruce Bailey is the new Mayor of Washington

Bruce Bailey has been elected as mayor of Washington, Georgia. In district 2 Newt Gunter and David Fisher will join seated councilman Andy Anderson representing their district on the city council. Larry Hill and Maceo Mahoney regained their council seats in district 1. Full election results can be seen below. Congratulations to all who won and thank you to all who put in the time and energy in an effort to serve our community. 

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How Did Washington Get Two Voting Districts? It Started with a Lawsuit Over Voting Rights.

On August 20, 1992, Reverend G.L Avery (branch president for the Washington, Georgia NAACP), Katie Evans and Clara Blackwell, all African American citizens of Washington, Georgia, filed a lawsuit against the mayor, Ed Pope Sr., and city council of the city of Washington. They were represented by attorneys Kathleen L. Wilde, Laughlin McDonald, Neil Bradley, and Mary Wyckoff of the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation (ACLU).

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Washington Turns Out for Peace Day, a Unity Event Initiated by Washington Native Devarius Smith

On Saturday, October 28, 2023 the first annual Peace Day, a unity event, was held at Reese Booker Park. It was a perfect day for music, food and fun. I spoke to Devarious Smith about what inspired him to create the event. Smith grew up in Washington. He told me that he loves Washington and that he really wants to help the kids. He said it’s harder for kids now then we he grew up here. “the kids don’t feel as safe now,”. He said although he now lives in Augusta, he is in Washington often and has family here. “So many have supported and donated” he said. Local churches helped with food donations and the Wilkes County Sheriff’s Department even stopped by to show support. Smith said all he had to do was tell people about his idea and they really came together to help.  He went on to say that the main goal is to get kids to understand what’s really important and that violence isn’t the way. “We have to respect one another and be an example to these kids” he said. He hopes to make it an annual event and add other similar events throughout the year. Many of the local candidates running in the upcoming election showed their support as well. Bruce Bailey, Angela Booker, Juan Jackson, Maceo Mahoney, Ken Parris and Delila Wilburn all attended the event.

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Washington Comes Together for Trunk or Treat on the Square

Pirates, Princesses, Super Heroes and Goblins were some of the characters seen at the annual Trunk or Treat event on the Square Thursday evening. The weather couldn't have been better for a gathering of all ages who turned out in some of the most creative costumes Washington has ever seen. Scroll through the slideshow below!

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New Sutton Temple Baptist Church Hosts Candidate Event

On Sunday October 22, 2023, Pastor Katherine Jones Turner hosted an event that provided African American candidates in the upcoming Washington municipal election, an opportunity to speak. All of the African American candidates were in attendance with the exception of Larry Hill and John Wylie. The event opened with prayer and instruction from Pastor Jones Turner. Each candidate had eight minutes to share their platform and when everyone had a chance to speak, questions were taken from the audience. Productive conversations were had. Former mayor Willie Burns and Amethyst Wynn were two of the guests in attendance who also shared their thoughts on some of the issues brought up. You can watch the event in it's entirety on the Washington Wilkes Informer YouTube Channel.

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Fantastic Turnout at This Year's Resthaven Revisited

 Washington Wilkes Historical Foundation had its best turnout in years for Resthaven Revisited. They actually ran out of tickets and had to recycle the ones they collected from the early visitors. The cemetery tour began a little over 10 years ago as a co-production with the Washington Little Theater. The actors are all volunteers, and proceeds from ticket sales go toward improvements at Resthaven Cemetery.

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Washington, Georgia Candidate for Mayor, Angela Booker Addresses Past Arrest Allegations.

In a Facebook comment on Saturday, the same day the article regarding two lawsuits he was involved in was published, Washington Mayoral Candidate, Bruce Bailey, made a recommendation to citizens of Washington to follow a Facebook page that was created that same day.  He stated "there's a new page we've found, go find it.  It's all legal documents, open records and people are working hard to get the TRUTH out." The Washington Wilkes Informer was mentioned many times on the page as a source in "misinformation," Bailey also repeatedly referred to the Washington Wilkes Informer as a source of misinformation and having been unfair to him in the interview conducted last week. Bailey has repeatedly said how important it is citizens research the candidates. He went on to say the "info is easy to find. City, County attorneys are all willing to hand it over." On the page, which originally displayed a photo of mayoral candidate Ken Parris in the profile, but which has been removed (it is a violation of Facebook policy to impersonate someone else), there are photos of Ken Parris, Angela Booker, District 1 candidate Maceo Mahoney and District 2 candidate Kimberly Cork with many negative accusations and claims. It is unknown who manages the page as it is under a pseudonym. It is also unknown who the "people" are that Bailey mentions are working hard to find these allegations as they are never named. 

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Bruce A. Bailey, Washington, Georgia Candidate for Mayor and Nurse Practitioner at MedNow Urgent Care Accused of Wrongful Death and Denying Access to Medical Care in Past Lawsuits.

Bruce Anthony Bailey is a resident of Washington Georgia and currently works at MedNow Urgent Care in Washington. MedNow has 8 locations including Evans, Thomson and Augusta. It is listed on Bailey's Linkedin profile that he is also trauma program manager at Doctors Hospital in Augusta, Georgia.  However, he has informed me he is no longer in that position. Bailey is a candidate for mayor in the 2023 municipal election.

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Candidate Musical Chairs


            It’s political musical chairs, y’all!

            Here are some late game-day changes in the lineup for Washington’s November city elections.

            As expected, Rev. Larry Hill, who resigned his District One council seat and withdrew from the Mayor’s race Sept. 7, filed qualification papers for his old seat on Council Wednesday afternoon.

            But Hill can’t expect to easily regain his chair at the table; Brent Bailey, who found himself in a five-way race for the District One seat currently held by Maceo Mahoney, withdrew from the regular election slate, then immediately qualified Tuesday for the special election. They are joined by Trodondric Anderson, who also qualified Tuesday.

            In case you’re keeping score, there are now two one-time mayoral candidates — Hill and Mahoney — and one council aspirant — Brent Bailey — who have switched spots on the ballot. All candidates switching races were required to file affidavits noting their withdrawal.

            Competing for the Mayor’s office are Bruce Bailey, Angela Booker, and Ken Parris. The candidate with the most votes wins; there’s no provision for a runoff.

            The District One Council features four candidates for incumbent Maceo Mahoney's seat including Mahoney, Devito Owens, Delilah Wilburn, and John Wiley and three candidates for Larry Hill's seat being Hill himself, Brent Bailey and Trodondric Anderson which will be decided with a special election on the same day as the regular municipal election. The top vote-getters will be seated. Each voter may vote for one candidate in the regular election and one in the special election, being Hill's seat. Two seats are up for grabs on the ballot.

            In District Two, four candidates are seeking two Council positions — David Fisher, Newt Gunter, Kimberly Cork, and Juan Jackson. In this race, the two top voter-getters will be elected (again, no runoff provision).

            There will be a candidate forum September 28 at the Livery on Court Street, and the Informer is planning a three-part debate series on October 21 — one session each for Mayor, Council District One, and District Two. Please see our announcement at https://www.washingtonwilkesinformer.com/top-stories or check our Facebook page for details.

 

Reported by Richard Crabbe

Citizens Speak Candidate Debate

The Washington Wilkes Informer is hosting the inaugural Citizens Speak Candidate Debate on October 21, 2023. All candidates are invited to participate. The location is still being determined. Voters will have the opportunity to submit questions for the candidates, prior to the debate. Upon review, these questions will be presented to the candidates and they will be given the opportunity to answer. There will be three debate sessions on October 21st. One for District 1 city council candidates, another for District 2 candidates and a third for city wide mayoral candidates. The debate will be moderated and all efforts put in place for a civil, respectful discourse that allows voters to assess the candidate's opinions on issues important to them. Question can be submitted via the contact form. After entering your name in the contact form, please add the candidate or candidate office you wish the question be asked example; "Name": Jane Doe-question for council candidate district 2 and enter your question in the "message" box. Your name will NOT be mentioned at the debate when the question is asked. You can also send your questions to washingtongainformer@gmail.com and specify which candidate or candidate office (District 1 council, District 2 council or mayor) you want your question presented to. DO NOT enter your questions in the comments below if you want them presented at the debate. To receive updates on the debate location, times and other information be sure to subscribe by clicking the button below.

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Larry Hill Confirms Dropping Out of Mayoral Race

On Monday, former Washington City Council member, Larry Hill, confirmed in a conversation with Richard Crabbe, that he has withdrawn as a candidate for mayor. He stated he realized he does not have the time to dedicate to a campaign and that he plans to run for the seat he resigned, in the special election. The special election will be conducted November 7, 2023 and dates for interested candidates to qualify are September 12 and 13 from 8:00 am-5:00 pm and September 14 from 8:00 am-12:00 pm as listed on the City of Washington website. Qualification affidavits must be submitted to the city clerk, Wanda Dingler at Washington city hall.

Municipal Election Candidate Qualifying Documents Give Rise to Additional Questions

In review of the qualifying affidavits for the open city council and mayoral seats in the upcoming municipal election in November, it is notable that on nine of the affidavits, available below, there are omissions and/or what appear to be errors. It should also be noted that the documents were provided with all candidate bank account information visible on the documents of candidates who paid fees by check. I have redacted that information prior to providing the documents below for the security of the candidates as is standard when sharing publicly available documents. 

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Washington Municipal Elections 2023

No need for Washington’s voters to complain they have no choices in the cityelections this Fall. Depending on which district, there will be at least eight names inDistrict Two, or ten in District One on the ballot.

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Wilkes Board of Commissioners Not Prepared to Act on Waste Disposal Proposal


It appears no final decision allowing a waste processing site at Smith Dairy Farm near Rayle will be reached before October.

            The Wilkes Board of Commissioners has yet to hear from the county planning commission, which is considering a request by Smith Dairy Farms and Vanguard Renewables to rezone the dairy property for industrial use.

            While the rezoning item was not on the August 10 agenda, a number of county residents attended the meeting, intent on making an argument opposing the measure.

            At issue is the installation of a facility known as an “anaerobic co-digester”, which processes cattle manure, along with organic food processing waste. One end product is methane gas, which can be used in energy production; the process also results in liquid and solid waste materials.

            At two previous public meetings, many Wilkes County residents voiced strong opposition to the project, which Vanguard Renewables — a Weston, MA company — plans to install at the dairy farm on Centerville Road near Rayle. Forty of Smith’s neighbors have submitted a petition to the planning board in clear opposition to the plan.

            It reads, in part “This is not an industry that we wish to have in our community. We are skeptical of the claims made by Vanguard Renewables.” Their concerns include contamination of streams and groundwater, lingering rancid odors and chemical compounds escaping into the atmosphere.

            In a letter to the residents, Vanguard claims they “will take steps to locate the proposed digester away from ‘any sensitive receptors, such as homes or schools.’”

            Many of these residents are party to a lawsuit filed in December, 2020 seeking damages from dairy owner Jeff Smith and eleven co-defendants for illegally dumping “hazardous, noxious, foul, polluting, pathogenic and odorous wastes,” including “poultry carcasses and body parts.” The suit is still being litigated in Madison County Superior Court.

            A co-digester places organic waste like manure and waste from food manufacturing or retail level disposal into a closed tank without oxygen; in this “anaerobic” condition specialized microbes from the gut of the cow can digest the organic matter. While the manure comes from the dairy operation, the other waste materials are trucked in from outside the county.

            One byproduct of the process is methane gas, which can be used in energy production; in this case, the gas would be transported away from the farm. Liquid waste from the co-digester would likely be stored on-site, in open ‘lagoons’; some remaining solids can be used as “soil amendment”.

            Another concern is the amount of heavy vehicle traffic in and out of the facility; a Vanguard representative earlier admitted there could be 20-25 large trucks a day on Centerville Road, a two-lane secondary road near Rayle. One commissioner remarked the county is not inclined to absorb the cost of repairs from expected damage from overuse of the road.

            The Planning Commission will take up the matter at its next meeting in September, and the Board of Commissioner indicate the will make a decision at their regular meeting October 12 at 2:00 PM.

 

Reported on and written by Richard Crabbe


Featured Business Court Street Livery  wedding and event venue.


Cedric Antonio Norman Surrenders to Wilkes County Sheriff's Department

Cedric Antonio Norman turned himself in to authorities at the Wilkes County Sheriff's Department just before 8:00 PM Wednesday. Department officers and agents of the GBI spent the day in a door-to-dor search for Norman, in an effort to get family and acquaintances to convince him to surrender. Norman faces murder, aggravated assault, possession of a firearm during a crime, and gang activity charges in the shooting death of Deondra Barksdale, 21, of Washington June 24; also wounded in the shooting at the WD Package Store on Whitehall Street were Yetoi Norman, 36 and an unnamed man. More details to come....Subscribe to receive alerts on the latest updates.

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Janet Parker, Washington Economic Development Director, Resigns

Janet Parker, Economic Development Director for the city of Washington, has resigned her position stating personal health reasons. Parker was booked on Friday May 19 at 6:32 am, and charged with a misdemeanor, driving under the influence of alcohol-less safe, by the University of Georgia Athens Police Department and posted bond in the amount of $1,850.00. She was released at 1:27 pm the same day. Parker has not yet been reached for comment.

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Jan Anderson Speaks on Incident with City Councilman Nathaniel Cullars Sr. that Lead to Ethics Complaint.


February 17, 2023

 

On Monday, February 13, 2023 I spoke to Jan Anderson regarding what occurred after the January 9, 2023 city council meeting that resulted in her husband, city councilman Andy Anderson, filing an ethics complaint against fellow councilman Nathaniel Cullars Sr.

 

Mrs. Anderson told me that after the council meeting, she was walking out of the room the meeting was held in, at the Pope Center. She said Cullars Sr. was also walking out and was in front of her. She was attempting to walk around him. She said he turned around and said to her “You can’t walk in back of me” in what she said was a loud and aggressive tone. He said this many times. She said “Excuse me? I can walk wherever I want to walk.” As they got into the hall she said Cullars Sr. said  “You and your husband should never have run for city council.” She corrected him and said she had not run but that her husband did run and Cullars Sr. then said “He’s a fake councilman.”  She said she was getting very angry at this point and told him that her husband is not a fake and that he works very hard. She said she did not say anything about her husband working with other black people as Cullars Sr. stated.  Cullars Sr. then told her that he has been elected to the council for more than 20 years to which she replied “Maybe there should be term limits” and Cullars Sr. replied “Put it in place.” Anderson said that as they got closer to the exit of the building he said “Your husband is a fake army man” and that he said this several times. She admitted at this point she was yelling and isn’t ashamed of it because she said “That hurt me to my core.” She went on to say councilman Anderson is a 30 year veteran, served in two wars and is 100% disabled. She explained that when he was deployed it was difficult for her too, raising their two sons. She said Cullars Sr. has no right to say what he said because he hasn’t seen his friends “come back in body bags” and that he has no idea what that is like. She said  mayor Bill deGolian and city administrator Jerry deBin were walking behind her and that deGolian had recorded a part of the conversation. Cullars Sr. then told her “You go on to your car.” She said the sheriff deputy did tell her “Ma’am you need to quiet down” and that she thought that was odd.

 

I asked her if she thought that telling Cullars  Sr. that there should be term limits could be interpreted as an insult by him. She said she didn’t think it would be and that she would have said that about anyone because she is a believer in term limits for everyone who is in an elected position. She said she has never “approached him or anybody and insulted them.”  When she got outside, she said “(councilman) Maceo Mahoney, Angela Booker, Kimberly Cork and maybe somebody else were coming down the stairs.” She said they did not hear the latter part of what she and Cullars Sr. had said to one another.

 

I asked her if she had been present for the entire council meeting. She said she had. I asked her if she thought it was possible Cullars Sr. was upset about the vote by councilmen Denard, Wagner, mayor deGolian and her husband, to strike all of his items from the agenda. She said  “Of course” and that she didn’t think it was the right thing to do. She said she told councilman Anderson later, “that was a mistake, that was wrong.” She said it would have made her angry if she were councilman Cullars Sr. or Mahoney. She said it was not a justification for Cullars Sr. behavior however “It’s not an excuse for him to attack me.” She said that if Cullars Sr. can’t control his anger, it’s a problem. “The fact that he felt disrespected or angry does in no way equal what he said to me.”

You can hear the audio of part of the conversation Mrs. Anderson is referring to below.

Jan Anderson and Nathaniel Cullars partial recording of conversation 01/09/2023

Councilman Nathaniel Cullars Sr. provided a recording of a portion of the conversation between Jan Anderson, wife of councilman Edwin "Andy" Anderson and himself.  Councilman Anderson alleged in an ethics complaint filed on February 3, 2023, that Cullars Sr. "verbally acosted and insulted" his wife, Jan, during the conversation. This is only a portion of the exchange. 

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Ethics Complaint Filed Against Washington Mayor Bill deGolian and Councilmen Matt Denard, Charles Wagner and Edwin "Andy" Anderson Regarding Vote to Strike Agenda Items from the January Council Meeting.

February 10, 2023


On February 9, 2023 at 1:30 PM, Washington resident Angela Booker filed an ethics complaint against the mayor and District 2 councilmen, Anderson, Denard and Wagner. In the complaint, which can be read in full below, Booker alleges the councilmen named and the mayor, violated the code of ethics when they voted to strike councilmen Cullars Sr. and Mahoney's items from the agenda. She lists the particular codes that she believes were violated by that action;

 

(a) All city officials shall conduct themselves at all times with dignity and with respect for others in a manner to ensure appropriate decorum in the deliberations of city business and to reflect the responsibilities incumbent upon a city official.

 

(b) City officials shall observe decency of speech and gentleness of behavior at all meetings.

 

(c) No city official in speaking shall be disrespectful to any other official and shall carefully avoid reference to personalities when conducting city business.

The city of Washington municipal code states that when an ethics violation is filed, the mayor appoints an investigative committee made up of council members. The code also states that if the mayor is subject of the complaint, the mayor protem will make the appointments to an investigative committee. Councilman Matt Denard is the current mayor protem and is also a subject of the complaint. It is unclear who will appoint members to the committee to investigate the complaint. Councilman Larry Hill, Maceo Mahoney and Nathaniel Cullars Sr. are the only councilmen not named in the complaint. 

You can watch video of the portion of the January council meeting that is referenced in the complaint here

 

These are the agenda items that were stricken:

  1. Councilman Mahoney: (1) Motion to form Exit Interview Committee, (2) Motion to discontinue $150 deposit and only collect $55 if utilities are disconnected, (3) Motion to relieve excessive water & sewer fees for residents and businesses due to cold temperatures.
  2. Council Discussion Topics:
  3. Councilman Cullars: (1) District 2 Councilman voting via phone at 12-29-22 meeting, (2)

New business and jobs, (3) improved public safety, (4) expanded support for citizens, (5)

work together, (6) prior vote on electric rate penalties.

  1. Councilman Mahoney: Discuss the need to collect $150 deposit on accounts.

It is still unclear why councilman Denard made a motion to strike the items from the agenda or why Anderson, deGolian and Wagner also voted in favor of striking the items without asking Denard why he made the motion to strike. I have contacted them for an explanation if they wish to provide one, but have not yet received a response.

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Comments

Kathy Dinneweth
a year ago

Thank you, Michelle! I appreciate you, your work on The Informer and your appreciation for this town.

Jill Cobb
a year ago

It does not matter what someone was upset about, one should conduct themselves in a professional manner and not resort to juvenile insults. This is an ongoing issue and it's quite embarrassing for the city of Washington.

On the matter of term limits-
Absolutely, there should be term limits

Cynthia Uhrich
a year ago

Glad I'm leaving Washington. What a clown show. Cullars was not in the wrong and was harassed by Jan Anderson. I am glad Angela Booker filed this ethics complaint; it has legs and with the video to back this filing--it should be clear to the citizens of Washington that many members of their City Council and the Mayor do not care about them. Shameful.

Washington City Councilman Edwin "Andy" Anderson Files Ethics Complaint Against Councilman Nathaniel Cullars Sr.

February 8, 2023


Washington city council member Edwin “Andy” Anderson filed an ethics complaint against fellow council member Nathaniel Cullars Sr. on Tuesday February 3, 2023. In the complaint, available in full below this article, Anderson described an alleged incident that occurred between his wife, Jan Anderson and Cullars after the January council meeting had adjourned. Anderson himself was not present, as was a point of issue brought up by Cullars at the January meeting. Anderson stated in his complaint that Washington mayor Bill deGolian was witness to the incident but named no other witnesses. The ethics code violations Anderson cites specifically are related to the following;

 

“All city officials shall conduct themselves at all times with dignity and with respect for others" Anderson didn't list the statute in it's entirety, it continues "in a manner to ensure appropriate decorum in the deliberations of city business and to reflect the responsibilities incumbent upon a city official.”

 

“No city official in speaking shall be disrespectful to any other official and shall carefully avoid reference to personalities when conducting city business.”

 

"City officials shall observe decency of speech and gentleness of behavior at all meetings."

 

 

 

These fall under the section of the ethics code Sec. 2-231. – Decorum which consists of five tenants are:

 

(a) All city officials shall conduct themselves at all times with dignity and with respect for others in a manner to ensure appropriate decorum in the deliberations of city business and to reflect the responsibilities incumbent upon a city official.

 

(b) City officials shall observe decency of speech and gentleness of behavior at all meetings.

 

(c) No city official in speaking shall be disrespectful to any other official and shall carefully avoid reference to personalities when conducting city business.

 

(d) Profane, obscene, or indecent language is prohibited at city meetings.

 

(e) No city official shall debate, make motions, or present papers of any kind until recognized by the presiding official. While one city official is speaking, others shall refrain from speaking unless recognized by the presiding officer.

 

Per the municipal code, ethics complaints are brought before a committee appointed by the mayor and deGolian has appointed councilmen Mahoney, Denard and Wagner to the committee to consider this complaint. The committee has 60 days to investigate the complaint and decide if there is sufficient evidence to warrant a hearing.

 

I contacted councilman Cullars and asked him for a comment on the complaint filed against him.

 

Cullars said he only found out about the complaint today, February 8, 2023 which is five days after it was filed. He said he didn’t know why there was a delay in notifying him about the complaint.

 

He said that after the January meeting adjourned, he was walking out of the room the meeting was held in at the Pope Center and Jan Anderson was walking very closely behind him. He said he looked over his shoulder and told her she was walking too close to him. He said Jan replied, “It’s still a free country, I can walk wherever I want to.” He said he told her “Well okay than go ahead and walk around me.” Jan then started to tell him that her husband is a “decorated veteran” and that she didn’t like what he said about her husband during the meeting. (During the meeting, Cullars complained that Anderson was not in attendance in person and that he had missed several council meetings) Cullars said he told Jan that she and councilman Anderson were “fake” and that Anderson, Denard, Wagner and deGolian’s vote to strike his and councilmen Mahoney’s items from the agenda showed that they didn’t care about the citizens of Washington. He said Jan then said, “My husband works with a lot of black people, and they aren’t like you.”  He said Jan continued complaining and walking near him as he left the Pope center. He said she did not leave or stop talking until he got outside and asked the sheriff deputy to please tell her to get away from him. He said the deputy did tell Jan to step away, so she did.

Councilman Cullars said there were several witnesses to the incident including councilman Maceo Mahoney, Mayor Bill deGolian, the sheriff deputy as well as citizens who had been in attendance at the council meeting.

You can read the summary of the January City Council Meeting by scrolling past the complaint. The January meeting was remarkable in that councilmen Denard, Wagner, Anderson and Mayor deGolian voted to strike all of councilmen Cullars and Mahoney's items from the agenda and adjourned the meeting after approximately 30 minutes, with no reason given Cullars or Mahoney when they asked for one.

 

 

 


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Mark McHugh
a year ago

How can a citizen respect an elected official who votes to strike all the items a fellow councilman has on the agenda?They are all elected to represent the citizens not their own interest. With no explanation, at that. To throw up the fact that someone has served in the military only makes their behavior and actions more shocking. One would expect common respect and decency a kindergartner learns to be exhibited by someone who was an army colonel. I have served as an elected official many times in my life and in the military. I thought I had seen everything but the arrogance and entitlement exhibited with these actions by not one but four elected officials is disgusting. Being in the military, no matter the rank does not make one above reproach. Of course the councilmen that didn't get the opportunity to discuss their items and represent the needs of the citizens, are upset. Who wouldn't be upset in that situation? The mayor interrupted when they tried to ask why they were striking their items and Denard accused them of being unreasonable. It's like kicking someone in the teeth and yelling at them for saying ouch. Listening to the audio, both Cullars and Jan Anderson were immature but it sounded like Jan was chasing him, shrieking up a storm and making threats (If you ever...) cussing. He said her husband is fake and with a pretty calm demeanor it sounded like. I suspect he means upholding yourself as someone who has high honor and integrity but taking such an action at the council meeting, does seem like he is a fraud. I hope the citizens take a long hard look at who they have chosen to make decisions on their behalf and when the chance comes around again, they choose better.

Kathy Dinneweth
a year ago

For a councilman to be rude to a community member is uncalled for. And, how can a councilman challenge a veteran of the armed forces for his service unless he is ignorant. How can our citizens respect any elected official who behaves like this, time and time again.
Regarding the agenda, I, too, would like to know why the items were struck. Any suggested reasons shouldn’t be given in a report. That just leads some people to believe them to be true

Councilmen Matt Denard, Charles Wagner, Colonel Andy Anderson and Mayor Bill deGolian Commandeer Council Meeting Agenda Without Explanation.


The Washington, Georgia city council met Monday night but only for approximately 30 minutes because councilman Matt Denard made a motion to strike all items from the agenda other than approving meeting minutes and approving the extension of the City Attorney, Barry Fleming’s contract (approved with only Cullars voting against the motion) and appointing a district judge. Denard gave no explanation as to why he thought the items should be stricken nor did councilmen Colonel Andy Anderson, Charles Wagner or mayor Bill deGolian state why they agreed with Denard’s motion. Councilman Nathaniel Cullars Sr. and Maceo Mahoney suggested, during the meeting, that the reason was an effort to watch the University of Georgia football game.

 

Councilman Anderson was attending by phone; however, it was difficult to hear him, the few times he spoke, because of the loud background noise. Councilmen Wagner seconded the motion to strike the items Councilman Cullars and Mahoney had listed on the agenda and Anderson voted in favor as well. Councilmen Cullars, Mahoney and Hill voted against striking the agenda items and  Mahoney read the agenda items being stricken that included:

 

  • utility relief because of the recent freezing weather and high bills that will result (Mahoney)

  • cutting utility disconnection fees (Mahoney and Cullars)

  • new businesses and jobs (Cullars)

  • improved public safety (Cullars)

  • expanded support for citizens (Cullars)

  • work together (Cullars)

 

DeGolian broke the tie in favor of striking the items from the agenda and admonished councilmen Mahoney and Cullars for voicing their opposition to the motion to strike their items from the agenda. The mayor stated several times that he is very proud of the council and the work they have done including passing a budget for 2023 and lowering utility rates. To be clear, there has been no  lowering of rates overall, rather rebates offered twice per year, one being on the December bill. Denard also stated that Cullars and Mahoney were only attempting to be divisive in voicing their opposition to having their agenda items stricken and the people they represent, effectively silenced.

 

Councilman Cullars opposed a motion to approve the November 2022 meeting minutes because there was an error that attributed a statement to him, that he did not make. The motion to approve the minutes was made regardless of Cullars stating this error. Wagner, Anderson and Denard voted in favor of approving the erroneous minutes, Cullars, Mahoney and Hill voted against and deGolian broke the tie in favor of approving the minutes.

 

This council on more than one occasion, has had challenges with compliance of First Amendment laws and the Open Meetings Act and this is yet another unfortunate example. On December 8, 2022, attorneys at the University of Georgia Law School’s First Amendment Clinic sent a letter to Bill deGolian, Barry Fleming, Jerry deBin, Andy Anderson, Charles Wagner, Maceo Mahoney, Larry Hill, Nathaniel Cullars and Leslie Crawford informing them of some of these violations. The full letter can be seen below this article.

I contacted the First Amendment Clinic in August 2022, with questions regarding the local government and the Open Meetings and Open Records Act. Prior to attorneys sending this letter, I had sent emails informing the mayor and council of the violations and sending links to video education and the law itself so they could be better informed. The mayor and council are elected representatives of the citizens so when they silence one another, they silence the citizens. When they strike items from the agenda that council members want to discuss or take action on, after following the proper procedure to get these items on the agenda, the members who motion and vote in agreement to silence them, are silencing the citizens they represent and there are laws against this. I have met with the mayor, councilman Anderson and City attorney Barry Fleming and discussed the importance of following these laws yet, there has been no response to the letter pointing out the violations or offer from the attorneys at the First Amendment Clinic, to provide them with education on the law. I find this disappointing and perplexing especially considering Bill deGolian is himself, an attorney.

 

While it is my goal to remain non-biased and report facts, I must say I am shocked at the display of disregard for carrying out the business on behalf of the citizens, that was represented at this meeting. I also find it astonishing any governing body would be informed they are violating laws and not only ignore the information but continue with the violations. Laws matter, the way any city is governed, even a small one like Washington, matters. The First Amendment protects citizens and those who represent them, from being silenced. Ignoring valid issues brought to the table by elected officials in an effort to serve the citizens they represent, matters.  To so flagrantly and flippantly disregard those efforts without so much as a reason, is not only disrespectful, it shows a level of condescension and hubris that does not serve this community well and is not representative of the principles of democracy, our nation was founded on. I will continue to consult with the attorneys at The First Amendment Clinic and heed their knowledge and guidance. I hope our elected and hired governing officials will do the same.

 

Written by Michelle Chaffee


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Melissa Hawes
a year ago

It defeats the purpose of having a City Council committee if after all of these years they can’t come together to work as ONE.

By  The Numbers; The Runoff Election in Washington Wilkes



This past Tuesday, Raphael Warnock was elected to the United States Senate representing Georgia. Warnock narrowly won the seat beating his opponent, Herschel Walker, a former University of Georgia and NFL football player. Warnock is set to serve a six year term in Washington D.C.

 

It was a low turnout in Wilkes County with less than 30% of registered voters, actually voting in the runoff election. White voters made up the majority of votes with 59.2% and black voters made up 35.5% of votes cast. There were 5 Hispanic voters and 10 voters who identified as Asian.  1,186 women and 923 men cast their votes and voters over the age of 65 represented the largest group at 1,070. Only 193 citizens between the ages of 18-40 voted in this election. 85.6% of Wilkes County voters cast their ballots early with just 205 choosing to vote on election day. Wilkes County has a population of 9,876 residents and at least 7,134 are registered to vote.

 

Election integrity has been brought to the forefront of national and local conversations and is an important cornerstone of our democracy. We are researching our local election landscape to find out more in relation to who sets poll hours, who is on the board of registrars, how many sit on that board and when we can expect to have a chief registrar in place. I hope to have answers to those questions and additional insight within the next week. Stay tuned and subscribe for updates.

Voter data from Georgiavotes.com


Did Mayor deGolian Have the Authority to Override Council Rules? An update on the November City Council Meeting Agenda Issue.


At the November city council meeting there was some heated discussion regarding Washington Mayor Bill deGolian not having discussion topics listed on the meeting agenda but insisting on proceeding with discussions anyway. When councilmen Cullars and Mahoney attempted to stop deGolian citing rules that require the mayor and any council member to list items they wish to discuss, prior to the approval of the agenda, deGolian became upset and said "We are getting sidetracked on chicken crap." A motion was made to allow the mayor to proceed and a vote was tied with the mayor then voting to break the tie in favor of him being able to discuss what he wanted. Councilman Mahoney objected to deGolian being able to vote on a motion that directly impacted his own ability to override the rules.  I requested from City Administrator Jerry deBin a copy of the rule Cullars and Mahoney were referring to, if such a rule existed and any exceptions allowed the mayor. DeBin provided me a link to the municipal code that states the following:

 

  • Sec. 2-12. - Meeting agenda.
    modified

    At the mayor's direction, except for any special called meetings, the city administrator shall prepare a detailed agenda on the subjects to be covered or acted on and/or objectives to be met for each regular scheduled meeting, public hearing, or work session. The detailed agenda shall be made available to each council member at least one business day before each regular scheduled board meeting, public hearing, or work session.

    The mayor or any council member may add items to the agenda at any time up to two business days before each regular scheduled meeting, public hearing, or work session if a detailed description is given to the administrator. Submission of items to the agenda by a council member shall be designated as either an item for which action will be considered or as an item for discussion only. Items submitted for discussion only may not be commented upon by a single council member for a period of time in excess of five minutes (unless granted additional time by the chair) and shall not be the basis for any motion. In case of emergency, the council may waive this requirement.

    (Min. of 1-12-2015; Ord. of 5-14-2018; Res. of 9-13-2021)

     

    It appears there is no exception for the mayor to speak at will or even for a vote to override the code as written, during a council meeting. There were discussions had regarding the topics the mayor spoke about so it seems it would fall under the discussion rather than action topics. It was mentioned by councilmen Anderson, at the November meeting, that what the mayor wanted to speak about were announcements but there is no mention of a special provision for the mayor or council members being able to make announcements at the meeting without submitting those items to the agenda prior to the meeting.

    There are several reason the rules regarding this are important. The council and the mayor serve as representatives of the citizens of Washington and the citizens have the right to be informed about what their representatives will be addressing at the council meeting. This facilitates the citizens ability to make informed decisions about whether or not they wish to attend the meetings, make public comments or even speak to the mayor or council members to voice concerns.  There is also  some risk that a precedent could be set from the actions at the November meeting and that council members will also attempt to add items to the agenda after the agenda has been set and the public notified. This could create even more division and distrust, prohibiting the ability of the council to get work done on behalf of the citizens. The Georgia Open Meetings Act states;

     

    "The agenda shall be available upon request and shall be posted at the meeting site as far in advance of the meeting as reasonably possible, but shall not be required to be available more than two weeks prior to the meeting and shall be posted, at a minimum, at some time during the two-week period immediately prior to the meeting."  If the council members receive the agenda only one day prior to the meeting, this leaves little time for the citizens to view the agenda prior to the council meeting.

    What do you think? Should the mayor have special privilege in overriding the meeting rules? Should there be time set aside specifically for announcements that don't need to be approved prior to the meeting?  Please share your comments below.

    Reported by Michelle Chaffee

     

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Comments

Juan
a year ago

That settles it. Dysfunction is no function. Thank you for putting it where the goats can get it! Great post!

Pam Turpin
a year ago

Yes he should !!!!!

Cynthia Uhrich
a year ago

Thank you for the clarification. ALSO: According to Robert’s Rules of Order “a tie vote on a motion is a lost vote, since it is not a majority.” So the mayor voting to break a tie on his own motion is out of order.


Pop Warner All American Scholars

Five students have been recognized as Pop Warner All American Scholars. Banks Dawson, Sukeeral Jernigan, Davis Johnson, Mayson Mingle and Jayden Samuels achieved this distinction by maintaining an average score of 96 for the 2021-2022 academic year.

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Suite Surrender opens at Washington Little Theater on December 2nd

Photo 1 Mr. Dunlap (center, played by Trevor Forrest), the manager of the Palm Beach Royale Hotel, instructs his two best bellhops, Otis (left, played by Travis Labor) and Francis (right, played by Trix Sunga) on the importance of keeping the two divas as far away from each other as possible. Photo 2 Mr. Pippet (right, played by Tyreako Bailey) reacts as if he's seen a ghost, startling Murphy (center, played by Laurin Wilkerson) while Athena Sinclair (left, played by Rose Weser) cares for a lost dog.

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Questions About the Future of the Museum

A notice has been posted (see image below) to let the public know that the city is accepting offers on the building that the Washington Historic Museum resides in. Offers must be received by November 15th at 1:00 PM. This has raised some questions and concern from citizens as to what the future of the museum will be. The museum was created in 1835 as indicated by the description on the WashingtonWilkes.org website. There is a link to a museum website but the link is broken. The description reads;

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The Historic "Old Jail" Gets an Update

I met with Doug Abramson at the site of the Old Jail at 15 Court Street in Washington, to get an update on the progress of the renovation that began a few months ago. Doug and his wife, Susan moved to Wilkes County in 1999 and currently reside in Tignall.  They also own the Court Street Livery and other properties in Washington and have been involved in various community activities such as Mule Day. Doug also serves on the board of The Chamber of Commerce.They purchased the historic property in 2019 with plans to create additional housing in the downtown Washington area. 

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The Impact of Gun Violence

Miss Mary Johnson’s pride is unmistakable as she tells me about her 17 year old grandson, Tre’ Vontae Gray, who passed away on September 21 after being shot on September 19, close to her home on Ashley Avenue and Baltimore Road, in Washington, Georgia. “Everybody called him Big Man” she said as she smiled through tears and pointed at a memorial that included several photos and his Washington Wilkes High School football jersey that has been framed, all arranged in the corner or her living room. She told me it brings her comfort and that she knows Tre’ Vontae is now with his father, Travis Gray, who passed when Tre’ Vontae was only 10 years old. “I pray for them every day and for the other boys too” she says.

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Rotary President Michael Horgan on Serving Pancakes and the Community

Michael Horgan has been a member of Rotary Club International since 1988 and currently serves as president of the club. The annual pancake supper, coming up on November 4th, is known to many in Washington-Wilkes and is one of their largest fundraisers. Rotary Club International has 1.4 million members worldwide. On the Rotary.org website, the mission is listed as; "We provide service to others, promote integrity, and advance world understanding, goodwill, and peace through our fellowship of business, professional, and community leaders."  The vision: "Together, we see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change — across the globe, in our communities, and in ourselves." 

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Stories we are working on;, History of Callaway Plantation, Progress at the Gordon Street School, sludge dumping in Wilkes County.