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Cherokee County man charged with assaulting and detaining disabled grandmother

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A Cherokee County man has been indicted after prosecutors say he abused his disabled grandmother and did not allow her to leave their home.

Nathan Bellino of Canton is charged with four counts of exploitation and intimidation of a disabled adult, one count of aggravated assault — family violence, one count of battery — family violence and one count of false imprisonment, according to the indictment filed January 10.

The indictment charges Bellino with strangling his grandmother, hitting and pinching her, and depriving her of medical services, and blocking the exit and refusing to allow her to leave the home they shared in east Cherokee County near Canton. Prosecutors in the indictment say he caused "mental anguish" with his acts of violence, threats of violence and by limiting her contact with other people. The alleged incidents took place in October, according to the indictment. In an arrest warrant filed October 24 by the Cherokee Sheriff's Office, officers say Bellino took his grandmother's cell phone and prevented her from leaving the home for about four days.

A Towne Lake collectibles store had “well over 1,000” cards stolen from its collection last week, the store’s owner said, but the incident isn’t slowing them down.

BT Collectibles was broken into during the early morning of January 8. Co-owner Robert Mulligan said there was glass on the floor when he arrived that day.

As of Monday, no one had been arrested in connection to this case, said Patty Pan, community affairs liaison for the Cherokee Sheriff’s Office.

Mulligan said that, after the perpetrator or perpetrators broke into the store, they went to the sealed display cases, smashing them and taking the cards.

 Mulligan said there was another robbery in Roswell two days later involving another card shop.

Robert Mulligan, alongside his wife, Beatrice Mulligan, opened BT Collectibles about a year-and-a half ago.

The store has become popular in the Towne Lake community, and Mulligan said the support from both this community and Cherokee County as a whole has been “overwhelming.” The store fully opened again the following Tuesday, with support pouring in from customers and from social media users. For updates on the store, please visit the BT Collectibles Facebook page. BT Collectibles has a number of sports trading cards, Pokémon cards, memorabilia, comic books, collectibles, figurines, Funko POP figurines and more. In addition to buying cards from the store, customers can also bring in cards to sell.

A longtime MUST Ministries employee and volunteer for many community organizations has been named the First Citizen of Cherokee County by the local Chamber of Commerce.

As MUST’s community liaison for Cherokee County, Kendall Jones is credited with helping hundreds of people with food, shelter and other needs.

Jones was surprised with the honor by the Cherokee Chamber Thursday at its annual meeting, and was soon surrounded by family members on stage as he walked up to accept the award.

Jones also sang a hymn to the audience, “Make Me a Servant,” which he said he sings to himself most days when he drives to work.

Before Jones joined MUST’s staff, he was a volunteer at their food pantry. In 2010, he became MUST’s volunteer coordinator and intake manager.

He was promoted to program director at MUST Cherokee, Cherokee Chamber Pam Carnes said, and in 2019 the nonprofit created his role specifically for him.

Jones chairs the Canton Housing Authority, which owns and operates public housing in the city with federal funding, and serves as a board member of Cherokee FOCUS, a collaborative that supports children and families in the community. He also volunteers for the The Homeless Coalition of Cherokee County and for the chamber.

In addition to serving Cherokee County through various local organizations, Jones has extended his service abroad as the missions chair at Canton First United Methodist Church.

A crew of Cherokee County firefighters is raising money for one of their own after he lost his home to a fire Monday.

Firefighter Joel Saunders and his wife, Carolyn, are staying with a friend after their home burned to the ground, according to a GoFundMe page set up by Saunders' crew members.

The couple was not home at the time of the fire and no injuries were reported.

They lost everything except for their vehicles, according to the page and Cherokee County Fire and Emergency Services.

According to Cherokee Fire spokesperson Lieutenant Michael Sims, the couple had lived in Blue Ridge. A link to the Go Fund Me can be found at Tribune Ledger dot com.

House of Hope, a Cherokee County-based food bank, is celebrating 10 years in operation supporting their community.

The nonprofit organization, with a home base located east of Canton on Cumming Highway, provides aid for between 105 to 130 families coming from as far as Dahlonega and Jasper every week. Its programs include food box pickups, a clothing closet and supplying families with smoke detectors and car seats.

Director Wendy Graham shared that when beginning the expansions of the original pantry, she was told that most organizations fizzle out by three years. Ten years later, Graham and operations manager Christy Hofrichter are aiming their sights even higher. The nonprofit took its first steps on December 22, 2012 as a means of providing one hot meal to families connected with Free Home Elementary. Graham went one step further to provide Christmas Eve meals that month.

The pantry’s generosity grew to meet the needs of their community. Soon they were offering a soup kitchen in January, toiletry bags and care packages of nonperishable food items. When summer came, the organization opened its doors every Wednesday to continue to provide foodstuffs.

Plans for the pantry’s future include a separate room for the clothing closet and a larger truck for necessary item transportation. Graham said she also wants to help support other budding food banks in the area.

Those interested in volunteering are encouraged to visit the food pantry at 11954 Cumming Highway on Tuesday and Thursday mornings. Otherwise, the organization accepts monetary, food and clothing donations year-round. For more information, go to House of Hope dot Org.

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