Local News

February 22, 2014

New chief in town

Etheridge takes helm of Chatsworth PD

CHATSWORTH — Josh Etheridge’s desire to work in law enforcement was simmering inside him before he graduated from Murray County High School in 2000.

Etheridge, who became chief of the Chatsworth Police Department on Feb. 3, the day after the City Council appointed him to the job, said he has wanted to help the community since he was younger. Now that he’s advanced through the ranks, the main change he has talked about making is having a more visible police presence at community events that focus on education and assistance.

“I want to do my job to the best of my ability,” Etheridge said.

Etheridge was among five candidates the council interviewed for the job, all of them from within the department, said council member Fred Welch, who is also on the council’s Public Safety Committee. Welch said he, along with fellow council members and committee members Brad Rowe and Gary Brock, conducted the interviews before the whole council took a vote.

Celeste Martin was the only council member not on the committee, but Welch said the council’s roughly six other committees also have only three council members and make hiring recommendations in their respective departments.

The sole vote against Etheridge’s hire, Martin didn’t immediately return messages seeking comment. She issued an earlier statement to The Chatsworth Times in which she said she opposed the appointment “because of the manner in which the selection process was conducted,” saying she had not been fully informed about what the other council members already knew before the council called for a vote. At the end of her statement, she expressed confidence in Etheridge, saying she expects him to “go above and beyond and to be a servant for our people.”

Etheridge began his career at the Murray County Sheriff’s Office in 2000 when he was 18. A year later, he was hired at the police department as a patrol officer. In 2004, he was promoted to sergeant on patrol where he worked for a little more than nine years before being promoted to investigator in September.

Etheridge said his father worked in emergency medical services, so he was around public safety officials growing up and knew he wanted to do something similar.

The chief position came open after the council in January decided not to reappoint Terry Martin to the job he’s held for 11 years, instead unanimously making him the city marshal who handles code enforcement duties. Council members declined to go into detail on their decision except to acknowledge Martin’s work on the side doing private investigations factored into the decision.

They appointed Lt. Scott Bickford, who was second in command, as the city’s temporary chief while they conducted a search. Welch said while officials found qualities to appreciate in all five candidates — all of whom work in the department — Etheridge is the one who stood out during the interviews, although he didn’t say exactly why.

Etheridge has also been trained as a supervisor by Police Officer Standards and Training benchmarks and is certified through the organization as a general instructor and as a firearms instructor.

Welch said people outside the department asked about applying for the chief job, but officials decided to keep their search internal to boost morale.

“You try to show your people that if you do a good job that there is a possibility of moving up,” he said.

Etheridge will make about $50,000 a year, although Welch said the council will evaluate him again after six months to decide whether that amount should be adjusted. Council members must appoint or reappoint the police chief every year.

The department employs 14 certified police officers. Etheridge encouraged members of the community to contact him with any concerns at (706) 695-9667.

Text Only
Local News
  • Little library 1 mlh.jpg Little Libraries, big goal

    Whitfield County just received a new library.
    And better yet, 26 more are on the way to the region.

    July 27, 2014 1 Photo

  • Picture 3.jpg Rock solid

    A great number of things have come and gone since 1974.
    One that hasn’t: a small Dalton school founded by parents wanting a unique learning environment for their children.

    July 27, 2014 2 Photos

  • Vann House Day '14 6 mlh.jpg History comes alive at Vann House

    SPRING PLACE — In the early 1800s, the 1,000-acre plantation belonging to Cherokee Indian leader James Vann was a bustling place.

    July 26, 2014 5 Photos

  • Local officials agree with Deal

    Regarding news last week that approximately 30 unaccompanied minors from Central America, who had crossed the southern border into the United States, were sent without warning to Dalton last year and enrolled in Dalton Public Schools, Republican politicians representing portions of Murray and Whitfield Counties agree — state and local school officials deserved to know in advance, they say.

    July 26, 2014

  • Former chamber location 2 mlh.jpg Plan could cut flooding, stormwater damage in Dalton

    On a recent day, McClellan Creek flowed gently through Harlan Godfrey Civitan Park. But some park goers who live near the area say that even a mild rain can turn the creek into a torrent that eats away at their property.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • Civil War anniversary: The Battle of Crow Valley, May 9-12, 1864

    The Atlanta Campaign began during the first two weeks of May 1864 in and around Dalton. Union Maj. Gen. William T. Sherman’s strategy was to target two of his armies, about 80,000 men, against Confederate Gen. Joseph E. Johnston’s Army of Tennessee at Dalton. Then, while Johnston’s attention was diverted by these forces, he would secretly send his third army, about 25,000 troops under Maj. Gen. James B. McPherson, in a flanking movement to the southwest through Snake Creek Gap. Sherman’s goal was to break Johnston’s railroad supply line some 15 miles south at Resaca and trap Johnston’s Confederates in Dalton.

    July 26, 2014

  • New church being  built mlh.jpg Church construction continues

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • Avans.jpg Three arrested in arson plot to claim insurance money

    Three people have been arrested for their role in a fire at a Chatsworth home as part of an insurance scam to collect money, officials said.

    July 25, 2014 3 Photos

  • Investigation into MFG chemical accident continues

    An investigation is still ongoing after a MFG Chemical employee was injured earlier this month at a plant on Kimberly Park Drive.

    July 25, 2014

  • Judge sets $100,000 bond for Cohutta man accused of incest, molestation

    A Cohutta man charged with incest, aggravated sodomy and child molestation was granted a $100,000 bond over the prosecutor’s objection on Friday.

    July 25, 2014