Lula Teen Formally Charged For Recent Fatal Wreck on U.S. 441



A Lula teen has been booked on charges of second-degree vehicular homicide from a wreck earlier this month.

17-year-old Jacob T. Kiser Elliot was booked and released at the Banks County Law Enforcement Center on the misdemeanor charge Sunday.

Elliot was driving his Chevrolet S-10 truck south on U.S. 441 negotiating a curve north of Homer near Berlin Road when the vehicle left the roadway and struck a tree with its front, Georgia State Patrol says.

17-year-old Austin Fontes of Commerce, who was unrestrained at the time of the September 9 crash, died at the scene.

Habersham County has taken the next step to replace its current public safety radio system.

At last night’s meeting, the county commission unanimously approved the award of the request for proposal, as Chairman Dustin Mealor explains.

0:23 {MEALOR: “We have awarded the RFP to L3 Harris Communications. The final RFP value was roughly about $2.3 million over what we had originally budgeted in SPLOST, which was $7.2 million. So we’re looking at nine and a half to around $9.6 million how, however we do have funding available in our ARP funds to cover the difference.

Funding for the project, once approved, will be made up of $7.2 million from SPLOST 7, and more than $2.45 million of the county’s America Rescue Plan reimbursement funds, meeting documents show.

But there is one more step before the project can move forward.

0:06 {MEALOR 2: “We have to actually vote on accepting the project at that cost first though, which will be next month’s meeting.”}

Also during last night’s meeting, the commission unanimously approved premium pay for public safety personnel to keep units responding to the front lines staffed as much as possible.

The commission also voted:

* To seek requests for proposals for companies to seek insurance reimbursements for fires, wrecks, and rescues where involved parties’ insurance has provisions for such reimbursements. Commissioners stressed only those whose insurance includes reimbursement provisions would be billed.

* Approved the removal of the admission fee for individual county resident use of the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center effective January 1.

Habersham County Commissioner Bruce Palmer is holding a town hall meeting from about 5:30 to 7 p.m. today at the Ruby Fulbright Aquatic Center near Clarkesville.

0:26 {PALMER: “Some of the topics we’re going to talk about this time is commissioner responsibilities, roles, and the authority of commissioners – what we can do, what we can’t do. We’re going to talk about local constitutional amendments, which is a big thing right now with the Local Option Sales Tax, or the LOST. That’s something that in most counties in Georgia goes to the local government and in our case it goes to the board of education.”}

The Big Red Apple Festival in downtown Cornelia on Saturday exceeded the expectations of Cornelia Special Events and Tourism Coordinator Lindsey Fitzgerald.

0:32 {FITZGERALD: “I was so happy with the turnout and the vendors and the food vendors, and all the community that came out to support. I know that due to the situation of the past year, I was kind of just under-shooting a little bit, but I was definitely glad to see that there was more than expected that came out to enjoy the festival. Obviously, because it’s an outside event we don’t have a head count, but I would just think throughout the day from 10 to 4, especially with some of the sales that were reported from the vendors and food vendors, I would think thousands.”}

The Big Red Apple Festival was in its 33rd year paying homage to the area’s apple-growing history.

Habersham County finds itself at No. 28 on the list of Georgia counties with the lowest inpatient hospital bed capacity, according to Stacker.

Stacker used data from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, and provided the ranking based on the percent of inpatient hospital beds filled as of September 20, with ICU availability serving as a tiebreaker.

As of September 20, Habersham County saw 89% of its inpatient hospital beds occupied, with 48% of those by COVID-19 patients. That’s 6% more full that Georgia overall.

Habersham County saw 193 cases in the seven days prior to the ranking and, as of September 20, had only 16.1% of its population fully vaccinated. That is 63.7% lower vaccination rate that the state overall.

Elsewhere in the area, Hall County ranked No. 6 and Towns County ranked No. 10.