Georgia Environmental Protection Division’s Summer Burn Ban Lifted

Get a permit before you burn. It's fast, easy and free and it's the law.The summer ban on outdoor burning will end Saturday, September 30 in 54 Georgia counties, primarily in the northern half of the state. The Georgia Environmental Protection Division sets the restrictions annually, from May 1 to the end of September, to reduce emissions from ground level ozone that may jeopardize air quality.

Burn permits issued by the Georgia Forestry Commission are required for any outdoor burning in the state to help prevent wildfires and problems generated by smoke.

“The GFC will resume issuing burn permits as conditions allow, on a day to day basis,” said Frank Sorrells, Chief of Protection for the Georgia Forestry Commission.

Fire danger and smoke management considerations will be taken into account for counties that have been under the EPD burn ban since May 1, as it is in all Georgia locations, Sorrells said. The GFC recognizes the importance of prescribed burning for its many wildfire prevention and forest management benefits, and safety remains the top priority for those burns as well.

“We’re asking everyone to be extra cautious when doing any open burning, especially in the wake of Hurricane/Tropical Storm Irma, which left behind a lot of downed trees and vegetative debris,” said Sorrells. “Escaped debris burns remain the number one cause of wildfires in our state, and it may be necessary and wise to delay or postpone open burning if local conditions are unfavorable.” Sorrells said tools such as a shovel, water, and cell phone should always be on hand, that fires should never be left unattended, and a 911 call is always prudent when flames escape.

The 54 counties whose EPD summer burn bans have been lifted are: Banks, Barrow, Bartow, Bibb, Butts, Carroll, Catoosa, Chattooga, Cherokee, Clarke, Clayton, Cobb, Columbia, Coweta, Crawford, Dawson, DeKalb, Douglas, Fayette, Floyd, Forsyth, Fulton, Gordon, Gwinnett, Hall, Haralson, Heard, Henry, Houston, Jackson, Jasper, Jones, Lamar, Lumpkin, Madison, Meriwether, Monroe, Morgan, Newton, Oconee, Paulding, Peach, Pickens, Pike, Polk, Putnam, Richmond, Rockdale, Spalding, Troup, Twiggs, Upson, Walker and Walton.

For specific information about conducting open burning, permitting requirements, and current fire conditions in your area, contact your county’s GFC office or visit

Shire, Social Circle Fire Partner on Valuable Training for Mutual Benefit

Shire and the Social Circle Fire Department have formed a partnership that’s providing safety support for Shire’s operations while providing the fire department with tens of thousands of dollars of specialized training and equipment that will have broader impact across the community.

The two organizations are participating in joint hazmat (hazardous materials) and confined space entry training programs that are providing needed skillsets to Shire employees and Social Circle firefighters. The confined space entry, referred to more generally as technical rescue, training in particular is a rare skillset that’s generally only found in major metro fire departments.

“We found an opportunity to improve the rescue portion of our confined space entry program. In Los Angeles, there’s a fire station three blocks away from our facility with technical rescue capabilities. We didn’t have that here,” said Jeffry Carter, who specializes in emergency response with Shire’s Environmental, Health and Safety (EHS) department at the Georgia facility.

Shire has dozens of large vessels that are used in its manufacturing process, and while employees don’t commonly enter these vessels, they are required to do so periodically. Safety protocols stipulate rescue personnel should be on hand whenever a confined space entry is made by an employee.

A former firefighter and paramedic, Carter said he’s only seen this type of joint partnership at one other company in his career.

“Our EHS leadership told us to think outside of the box and find an effective and cost efficient solution,” Carter said. “It’s really cool that we’re not only able to implement an improvement for our site but also for the community.”

Before this training, the nearest department with technical rescue capabilities was in DeKalb County.

“When we’re done with the training, everyone in the department will have confined space training. To be honest, that’s almost unheard of, especially with a department our size,” Social Circle Fire Chief Ken Zaydel said. “We have public works employees in the city that make confined space entries, and we have other industries that do the same things and will benefit from this training.”

The training is being led by Eddie Sisco, who offers the specialized training through his Alabama-based company, Emergency Response Services. He has a specially designed rig and equipment that allows him to simulate various confined space entry scenarios.

While industries are a common client, Sisco said he’s seen numerous situations in communities where firefighters and others have had to use technical training to rescue people, whether it’s a contractor falling into a water tank during sandblasting or tourists and residents getting trapped while exploring caves. He agreed that it’s pretty rare to see these type of public-private partnerships, but he’s encouraged by it.

“It’s good to work with a group that wants to participate and that is looking forward to doing it. They’ve lined up to participate,” Sisco said. “They are ready to protect the facility and the community, and both sides will benefit greatly from it.”

The training consists of lots of rope work, including tying different kinds of knots and using pulley systems to create a mechanical advantage to safely lower and lift people out of small entry areas and move them horizontally through spaces, as well as proper harnessing and learning how to safely move an incapacitated person. Air monitoring is also a critical skill as rescue personnel need to understand the environment they’re entering as it could contain dangerous levels of chemicals.

Zaydel said his team already had some rope training, but this more advanced training takes the department’s capabilities to a whole new level. Some local,practical examples of confined space entry are when Georgia Power employees enter confined space vaults in the city and when public works employees work in manholes, stormwater drains and pits at the water plant.

“Everything builds off of rope rescue, all technical rescue, confined space, structural collapse, trench rescue, it all builds off the rope side. Knowing how to set up systems and knots and build off of that is a core skill set,” Zaydel said. “This training and trailer we have now gives us huge capabilities to be able to assist Shire, our other industries and the 4,500 residents we serve.”

Firefighters will also be able to earn some additional money by using their expertise for side jobs. For example, Shire will hire firefighters to be on standby for confined space rescue whenever the plant has a shutdown – a scheduled period where manufacturing stops and regular maintenance is performed throughout the plant.

For Shire, the training is another piece of the puzzle for the company’s Emergency Response Team, a cross-functional team of employees who are receiving in-depth training on confined space rescue, hazmat, CPR/First Aid and other skills and are ready to respond to any event that could happen at the facility.

“When we train people to become subject matter experts in these areas, we create an environment and culture of safety. We know the potential dangers, we know how to prevent incidents and injuries, and hopefully we never have to use any of this training,” Jason Pertoso, Shire’s EHS Director at the Georgia facility, said. “But if we do, we know that our public safety partners will be ready.”

Rebates for Old Appliances

gas stoveThe Social Circle gas department wants you to round up your old appliances in exchange for new natural gas appliances. The Rebate Rally is a special natural gas appliance event, held by natural gas providers across the state of Georgia each year. Local governments, water heater manufacturers, local contractors, and local businesses have partnered together to promote the understanding of natural gas appliance savings, benefits and efficiencies. Social Circle is participating in the 2017 Rebate Rally Campaign throughout the months of September and October. Promotions include a $400 rebate on natural gas tankless water heaters, a $200 rebate on a natural gas tank water heater, $50 rebate on natural gas stove, lights or logs. The City of Social Circle offers 0% interest financing on the purchase and installation cost of natural gas water heaters, stoves and dryers. Qualified residential customers can obtain an application from City Hall. For more information, contact Robbie Groves at 770-464-2380, or

Please Keep Grass Clippings out of the Street

Lawn mowerWith all the rain the last few weeks, grass around the city is growing like — well — weeds. We appreciate residents mowing as they can between showers and clearing the grass clippings when they have finished. We do request that when you clean up after mowing that you also clean the clippings out of the streets. When grass clippings are left in the streets and the next rain comes, the clippings will be washed down the drain and can cause the storm drains to get clogged.

According to the University of Georgia College of Agricultural & Environmental Sciences, grasscycling, or leaving grass clippings on the lawn, not only acts as mulch to keep in the moisture when it gets hot and dry, they also serve as a natural fertilizer.

Citizen Police Academy Registration Opens Today

Social Circle Police Department Citizen Police Academy - Share Our Vision and Be Our VoiceThe Social Circle Police Department will be taking applications for the Citizen Police Academy beginning Monday, July 17, 2017. The last day for registration will be Friday, August 11, 2017. The class is limited to 12 students.

The six-week course will start Tuesday, September 5 and end on October 14. Class will be held in the evenings from 6:00 – 8:30 pm.

Applicants are required to be twenty-one (21) years of age and must provide their own transportation to and from training. Acceptance into the program is subject to review of the applicant’s background, including a criminal history inquiry.

There is no charge for the course.

For more information please call Lt. Randy Downs at 770-464-2366 or e-mail at

Citizen Police Academy Information


Anonymous Tips Lead to Arrest

On Friday, July 14, 2017 at approximately 6:00am, the Social Circle Police Department along with members of the Walton County Sheriff’s Emergency Response Team (SERT) executed a search warrant at 464 Ronthor Drive Social Circle, GA. in reference to a narcotics investigation.

The Social Circle Police Department received several anonymous complaints/tips at this address in reference to suspected drug sales.  We conducted an investigation which led to the search warrant being executed this morning.

Investigators located a quantity of marijuana and two firearms.  One of the firearms had an altered serial number.

23 year old Mikail Anthony Walker of 464 Ronthor Drive Social Circle, GA was arrested and charged with possession of marijuana with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime and criminal use of an article with an altered serial number.

We encourage citizens to continue to report any suspicious or illegal activity. See it, Hear it, Report it! You can remain anonymous. You can email

Water Line Repairs Scheduled for 7/13

Water line repairs will start on Thursday, July 13 on West Hightower Trail at approximately 9:00am.  The first repair will be in front of the Elementary School and the second repair will be at 586 West Hightower Trail.  Residents in those areas may experience temporary water outages throughout the day.  Crews expect to complete the repairs by 4:00 pm.  There will be one lane traffic in those areas and the City is asking that the public slow down during repairs and be courteous and mindful of our traffic control flaggers and the safety of our City crews.

Call City Hall (770-464-2380) if there are questions or concerns.

Leaf and Brush Collection Update

The city has acquired a new leaf and brush truck to improve services and will be back on your normal schedule for leaf and brush pickup in the same week starting Monday the 19th of June, 2017.

We want to thank the public for being very patient while we repaired and acquired new equipment to improve your service delivery.  Staff have been working very hard to get back on schedule and provide you the best service possible for leaf, grass clippings, and brush removal.

To better serve you we want to work as a team with the public to ensure services are provided in a timely manner and equipment is in top working order.  The following are some tips for ensuring our crews provide the best serve possible:

  1. Do not put trash such as rocks, metal, dirt, and any item they may damage the blades on the leaf and brush machine.  These items can cause equipment failure and costly repairs preventing the crews from providing quality service to you.
  2. Separate leaf piles from brush piles and keep limbs to approximately 4 inches or less in diameter.
  3. Crews will normally spend 15 minutes on a leaf or brush pile. If they spend longer than that then the piles are too big causing the crews to get behind delaying service to other citizens. However, they can spend 15 minutes each week on a large pile until it is gone.
  4. If you see our trucks pass your pile of leaves and brush without picking it up, their trucks are full and need to be emptied. They will return to finish your piles.  However, if they miss your pile by mistake then call City Hall and request pick up.
  5. If you forget to put your pile of leaves and brush next to the road on your scheduled pickup day crews will pick it up the following week on your scheduled day of pickup.
  6. If you see a hang tag on your pile of leaves or brush, then there is a reason for them not picking up your pile. Please read the tag and take the appropriate actions.  Once that is complete call City Hall for pickup or wait until your next scheduled pickup day.
  7. There will be times when your leaf and brush pickup may be delayed due to equipment failure and weather. However, we will make every effort to pick them up in a timely manner.

Water to be turned off for hydrant repair

On Thursday, May 18, water will be turned off to the following addresses on S Cherokee Rd while City Crews replace a fire hydrant at Cherokee Rd and Cannon Drive.

304 S Cherokee Rd
379 S Cherokee Rd
399 S Cherokee Rd
392 S Cherokee Rd
415 S Cherokee Rd
434 S Cherokee Rd
452 S Cherokee Rd
462 S Cherokee Rd

The water should be from about 9:00 am – 2:00 pm .