Stephens County Man Arrested by Cornelia Police in Alleged Rape Case.

4/22

A Stephens County man was arrested in Athens Tuesday, charged for a February rape in Cornelia.

0:08 {SMITH: Lester Hoyte, 35 year-old male from Toccoa, was charged with rape. The case is still under investigation for possible more charges.”}

That’s Cornelia Police Chief Chad Smith, who said Hoyte also is charged with false imprisonment, sodomy, and battery in the Feb. 12 case.

The 17-year-old female victim said she was offered a ride home by a taxi driver about 6 p.m. Feb. 12, which she accepted. She was at Habersham County Shopping Center at the time he approached her and he then took her to a secluded location and raped her, said Cornelia Police Chief Chad Smith.

Smith said officers believethis was an isolated incident, but the case remains under investigation and more charges are possible.

Hoyte was arrested by the Athens-Clarke County Police Department on April 20.

Habersham County Shopping Center is located on 441 Bypass at Level Grove Road in Cornelia and includes grocery and retail shops.


A White County man is in jail after a SWAT standoff in Cleveland early Wednesday.

Cleveland police responded to a physical assault at 50 White Street in Cleveland just before midnight Tuesday.

When officers arrived, a woman who had suffered injuries in a domestic dispute was located and taken for medical treatment, said Cleveland Police Chief Jeff Shoemaker.

The aggressor was known to the victim and was identified as Nicholas Ryan Stills of Cleveland.

Stills was located inside a nearby apartment and made threats of violence, including the use of weapons against officers on the scene, Shoemaker said.

Because of the potential danger, the White County Sheriff’s Office SWAT team was called.

After unsuccessful negotiations, Stills finally was arrested inside the apartment.

Stills is charged with aggravated assault, false imprisonment, terroristic threats and acts, battery, obstruction of law enforcement officers, disorderly conduct, and public indecency.


Habersham County Schools Chief Financial Officer Staci Newsome gave the board of education good news this week: local funding is running ahead of budget with three-quarters of the budget year complete.

For Fiscal Year 2021, all local tax revenue collections continue to exceed original budget projections and most are running significantly ahead of where they were at this time last year.

Ad valorem tax collections are almost $337,000 ahead of last year and are at 93.5% of the amended budget. Those are the property taxes paid by homeowners and others.

Local Option Sales Tax collections for salary and operations is at nearly 80% of the amended budget, which translates to $960,000 ahead of this time last year.

Real estate transfer and intangible taxes are about $173,000 ahead of this time last year.

Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax 5 for education collections are up more than $1 million over this time last year.

0:08 {NEWSOME: “Alcohol is $297,000 versus $273,000, or $24,000 ahead, so our local revenue sources are all very steady.”}

System officials said the positive financial position is allowing them to complete projects for students both inside and outside the classroom.