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The story behind the Hall County Strong signs posted around town
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Motorists pass underneath the Gainesville pedestrian bridge adorned with a Hall County Strong banner in remembrance of Deputy Blane Dixon and thanking the community for its support Thursday, Oct. 24, 2019. - photo by Scott Rogers

Two banners are draped across the Gainesville midtown pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway to express gratitude to a community that rallied together after the death of a Hall County Sheriff’s Office deputy

“Thank you for all your love, support, and prayers during this difficult time of loss. We are Hall County Strong,” the banners read.

The sign includes the Sheriff’s Office patch with Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon’s name in a blue line along with his end of watch, July 7.

Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Greg Cochran said it took a few weeks to put the design together and get the two banners and five signs put together. They will stay up for two weeks.

“We kind of put our heads together and thought about what we wanted to say and keep it short and sweet. We didn’t want somebody to have to read a book while they’re driving down the road,” Cochran said.

The signs are posted at these Gainesville locations: the pedestrian bridge over Jesse Jewell Parkway at Bradford Street;  the Hall County Sheriff’s Office headquarters on Browns Bridge Road; and Thompson Bridge Road north of Mountain View Drive.

There are also signs on Clermont’s Main Street near the Clermont DIP Library and History Center, on Spout Springs Road near Cody Drive in Flowery Branch and on Athens Street near the Lula train depot.

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Hall County Sheriff's Office Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon. - photo by Hall County Sheriff's Office

Dixon was fatally shot July 7 in an exchange of gunfire in Gainesville after pulling over a car and chasing four suspects on foot. Police have said the car was stolen, and a preliminary investigation has shown a pawn shop burglary, in which a large number of firearms were stolen, is connected.

Four teenagers have been charged with murder. They all recently pleaded not guilty.

“Deputy Dixon’s murder has affected all of us in the law enforcement community. The outpouring of support from the community has been felt by all of us. Our gratitude to those that have expressed their support can never fully be shown. I echo the sheriff in encouraging our community to rally around the Dixon family, and I ask that we continue to support our sheriff’s department,” Gainesville Police Chief Jay Parrish said in a statement.

Deputy patrol cars are also sporting a decal with the patch honoring Dixon.

“The signs are merely an outward expression of what is in the hearts of our men and women,” Sheriff Gerald Couch said in a statement posted on social media. “I pray that they express just a fraction of the gratefulness we feel for each one of you. Please continue to rally around the Dixon family and your Sheriff’s Office. We’re all in this effort to serve and protect together.“

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A hearse pulled by horses carries Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon during a procession on Browns Bridge Road on Thursday, July 11, 2019. Dixon was shot and killed Sunday night while pursuing subjects along Jesse Jewell Parkway in Gainesville. - photo by Austin Steele