The blog.

26
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 26, 2017

Gidget

Gidget is a young female Corgi and Beagle mix puppy who is available for adoption from Mutt Maddness in Marietta, GA.

We rescued Momma Beanie from dire circumstances, and we were so very lucky she was a great mom to these little peanuts! Each pup is under 5 pounds and cute as a button!!

They are friendly and love to play with their toys and like to spend time with the rest of the family (human and dog). Their mom is a 30 pound mottled beagle mix with dachshund type legs. There are four males and four females. The males (except Scrappy the smallest pup) all have longer legs and will be bigger dogs than the females (they all have body shapes similar to their mom). They are a very sweet group of pups!

Simone

Simone is a young female Corgi and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Mutt Maddness in Marietta, GA.

This trio was rescued from Fulton County, where all attempts were made to capture their feral momma to keep the family together – Unfortunately mom has evaded all attempts, but we had to get these babies to safety! They are just wrapping up their quarantine period, and will be ready for adoption at the end of September.!

Each of these little nuggets has been vetted, loved up and is super sweet! We’ve never seen the mom, but according to reports she appears to be a Border Collie mix, and of medium size. We expect roughly the same from this pack.

Theodore

Theodore is a young male Corgi and Lab mix puppy who is available for adoption from Mutt Maddness in Marietta, GA.

26
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2017

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

The first televised debate between major party candidates for President took place on September 26, 1960 between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon.

Kennedy emerged the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly owing to his greater ease before the camera than Nixon, who, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21 the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate. Less than three weeks later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by his Republican opponent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Court of Appeals Judge William “Billy” Ray, II was introduced to the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee by Senators Johnny Isakson and David Perdue, as the committee begins its confirmation process on his nomination as a U.S. District Court Judge.

Most nominees were introduced by one senator from their state, but there were two nominees to two District Court seats in Georgia, so Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue introduced both men. The other nominee was Michael Brown. Both men were nominated by President Donald Trump earlier this year.

“Billy is from Gwinnett County, Ga., and served in the Georgia State Senate for six years, went from there to the Superior Court of Gwinnett County and from there to the Court of Appeals in Georgia, and has been an outstanding participant in the bench all of those times,” Isakson said.

Perdue praised both Ray and Brown in his remarks.

“I’m proud to support both of these impressive nominees without reservation and applaud the president for his selection of two such qualified and well-regarded Georgians to fill these seats on the federal bench in my state,” he said. “This is a high honor to introduce both of these candidates from Georgia.”

“I’d like to thank President Trump for his nomination of me, and for the support that both Sen. Isakson and Sen. Perdue have given me in forwarding my name to the White House for consideration,” Ray said.

He also thanked his fellow judges on the Gwinnett County Superior Court and the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer will kick-off his campaign for Lieutenant Governor on October 22d.Continue Reading..

25
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 25, 2017

Fern

Fern is a young female Coonhound who is available for adoption from BullyWag, Inc. in Palmetto, GA.

Fern is a loving, quiet, easy-going girl. She would love to sit by you on the porch or couch. She would blossom with lots of love and one-on-one attention! Come check her out at Petco in Peachtree City, Ga on Saturdays from 12:30 -4. Fern and our volunteers would love to see you!!

Chance

Chance is a young male Border Collie & Boxer mix puppy who is available for adoption from BullyWag, Inc. in Palmetto, GA.

Chance is a cute, lovable ball of kisses and energy. Prepare to take a chance on Chance. You won’t regret the love and kisses he has to share!

MartinBW

Martin is a young male Labrador Retriever & Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from BullyWag, Inc. in Palmetto, GA.

Martin was born in late February with all his other siblings. They are currently in foster and are looking for loving homes!

25
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 25, 2017

On September 25, 1789, Congress adopted the first twelve amendments, called the Bill of Rights, to the United States Constitution. A little more than two years later, in 1791, enough states had ratified ten of the Amendments, with two not receiving sufficient support.

bill-of-rights-hero-lg

On September 25, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with General John Bell Hood and visited troops at Palmetto, Georgia.

Ronald Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Justice of the United States on September 25, 1981. In an interview with Terry Gross, she recalled receiving the call from President Reagan:

“I was working in my office on the Arizona Court of Appeals,” she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I was at the court in my chambers when the telephone rang. And it was the White House calling for me, and I was told that the president was waiting to speak to me. That was quite a shock, but I accepted the phone call, and it was President Reagan, and he said, ‘Sandra?’ ‘Yes, Mr. President?’ ‘Sandra, I’d like to announce your nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. Is that all right with you?’ Well, now, that’s kind of a shock, wouldn’t you say?”

On September 25, 2008, the last car came off the line at GM’s Doraville Plant.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp set qualifying for Special Elections in House District 4, vacated by State Rep. Bruce Broadrick (R-Dalton) and House District 60, vacated by State Rep. Keisha Waites (D-Atlanta). The qualifying period begins today from 9 AM to 5 PM and continues Tuesday 9-5 and Wednesday from 9 AM to 1 PM at the SOS office in the Twin Towers.

Kemp also told the AJC that Homeland Security officials told him Georgia was not targeted by the Russians in the 2016 campaign.

Former Georgia Congressman John Barrow announced yesterday to the Athens-Clarke County Democrats that he will run for Georgia Secretary of State.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico filed paperwork to raise funds for a 2018 Lieutenant Governor campaign.

Amico is executive chairman at Jack Cooper Holdings Corp., a trucking and logistics firm run by her father, Michael Riggs. Trained at Harvard’s business school, she’s previously worked at talent and literary agencies in New York and Hollywood.

She hasn’t publicly announced her campaign yet, but her Twitter biography provides a clue about how she might run the race: She identifies herself as a “politically purple advocate for common sense policy.”

Vice President Mike Pence has a full travel schedule, including a fundraiser in Alabama for Republican Senator Luther Strange.

Vice President Mike Pence went home to Indiana on Friday to pressure the state’s lone Democratic senator to support a GOP tax overhaul. He’ll bounce to Alabama on Monday, campaigning for President Donald Trump’s pick in a special Senate election. And by Thursday, he’s scheduled to be in Milwaukee, headlining a $35,000-per-couple fundraiser.

Pence is expected to campaign extensively on behalf of congressional Republicans seeking to maintain their majorities next year. More immediately, Republicans expect him to help Ed Gillespie, the former Republican National Committee chairman who is running for governor in Virginia this fall.

Pence will also campaign in Alabama today for Sen. Strange in the GOP Runoff Election.

The State House Science and Technology Committee met Friday to discuss a new voting system for Georgia.Continue Reading..

22
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 22, 2017

AmyRenea

Amy Renea is a female Labrador Retriever and Bloodhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Save A Pet Inc in Forsyth, GA.

Amy Renea’s mom was a yellow lab and her dad was a bloodhound. A mixture of these two breeds makes our Amy a loveable dog that could find a needle in a haystack.

Amy is a very smart 21-pound pup that walks well on a leash, but she does love to track. Her birthday is February 23, 2017. Amy Renea loves massages! She knows sit and is working on other commands. Amy would not fare well in an apartment – she needs her exercise and a place to sniff ‘til her heart’s content. If Amy sounds like a good fit for you, please call Save A Pet at 478-994-3882 now.

KendallSAP

Kendall is a female Hound puppy who is available for adoption from Save A Pet Inc in Forsyth, GA.

Chaps

Chaps is a male Jack Russell Terrier puppy who is available for adoption from Save A Pet Inc in Forsyth, GA.

Chaps is a Jack Russell Terrier mix that is smart, attentive and relaxed. He loves scratches, massages and slow strolls down the street. Chaps would make the perfect cuddle bug.

Chaps rarely has something to say, but when he does it’s for a good reason. He thinks it’s his job to protect and be vigil. Chaps is learning sit and heel. With a little practice, he could ace obedience training. He doesn’t pull on the leash and isn’t much of a jumper. Chaps was born around April 14, 2017. He weighs about 25 pounds and is good with kids and our Save A Pet puppies! Come and spend time with Chaps. He’s waiting for his forever home.

22
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 22, 2017

James Oglethorpe was named Commissioner of Indian Affairs and Charles Wesley was named Secretary of Indian Affairs by the Georgia Trustees in London on September 24, 1735.

Bon Homme Richard

John Paul Jones, at the helm of US ship Bonhomme Richard, won a naval battle off the coast of England on September 23, 1779.

After inflicting considerable damage to the Bonhomme Richard, Richard Pearson, the captain of the Serapis, asked Jones if he had struck his colors, the naval sign indicating surrender. From his disabled ship, Jones replied, “I have not yet begun to fight,” and after three more hours of furious fighting the Serapis and Countess of Scarborough surrendered to him.

The Judiciary Act of 1789, which established the first federal judicial system, was adopted on September 24, 1789 with the signature of President Georgia Washington. Under the Act, the original size of the Supreme Court was five Associate Justices and a Chief Justice. Washington nominated John Jay as Chief Justice, and John Rutledge, William Cushing, John Blair, Robert Harrison, and James Wilson as Associates.

Also established on September 24, 1789 were the office of Attorney General of the United States and the United States Post Office Department.

On September 25, 1789, Congress adopted the first twelve amendments, called the Bill of Rights, to the United States Constitution. A little more than two years later, in 1791, enough states had ratified ten of the Amendments, with two not receiving sufficient support.

bill-of-rights-hero-lg

Meriwether Lewis and William Clark returned to St. Louis Missouri from their exploratory trip to the Pacific coast on September 23, 1806.

rutherfordhayesatlanta

On September 22, 1862, Republican President Abraham Lincoln issued a preliminary Emancipation Proclamation, which stated,

“. . . on the first day of January [1863] . . . all persons held as slaves within any State, or designated part of a State, the people whereof shall then be in rebellion against the United States shall be then, thenceforward, and forever free.”

On September 24, 1862, the Confederate Congress adopted the Seal of the Confederate States of America.

President Rutherford B. Hayes visited Atlanta on September 22, 1877. Click here to read the text of his speech in Atlanta.

The Decatur Female Seminary opened with 60 students on September 24, 1889 and would later be chartered as Agnes Scott College.

White vigilantes seeking to assault African-Americans after reports of four white women being assaulted led to the Atlanta Race Riots on September 22-24, 1906, which would claim the lives of at least 25 African-Americans and one white person.

On September 22, 1918, the City of Atlanta gasoline administator prohibited non-emergency Sunday driving to conserve fuel for the war effort.

On September 23, 1944, President Franklin Delano Roosevelt was speaking at a dinner with the Teamsters union and addressed attacks that had been made by Republicans, including the allegation that after leaving his dog, Fala, behind in the Aleutian Islands, he sent a Navy destroyer to fetch the dog. This would become known as the “Fala speech.”

These Republican leaders have not been content with attacks on me, or my wife, or on my sons. No, not content with that, they now include my little dog, Fala. Well, of course, I don’t resent attacks, and my family don’t resent attacks, but Fala does resent them. You know, Fala is Scotch, and being a Scottie, as soon as he learned that the Republican fiction writers in Congress and out had concocted a story that I’d left him behind on an Aleutian island and had sent a destroyer back to find him—at a cost to the taxpayers of two or three, or eight or twenty million dollars—his Scotch soul was furious. He has not been the same dog since. I am accustomed to hearing malicious falsehoods about myself … But I think I have a right to resent, to object, to libelous statements about my dog.

The idea for the joke was given to FDR by Orson Welles. The political lesson here is that any time you get an audience laughing at your opponent, you are winning.

A statue of former Georgia Governor Eugene Talmadge on the grounds of the Georgia State Capitol was unveiled on September 23, 1949, the 65th anniversary of Talmadge’s birth near Forsyth, Georgia in 1884.

On September 23, 1952, Senator Richard M. Nixon was under fire for allegedly accepting $18,000 and using it for personal expenses. To salvage his place as the Vice Presidential candidate on Eisenhower’s Republican ticket, Nixon took to the airwaves in the first nationally-televised address and delivered what came to be known as the “Checkers Speech. From The Atlantic:

[A] 1999 poll of leading communication scholars ranked the address as the sixth most important American speech of the 20th century — close behind the soaring addresses of Martin Luther King, Jr., John F. Kennedy and Franklin Delano Roosevelt.

The “Checkers” speech wins this high rank for one stand-out reason: It marked the beginning of the television age in American politics. It also salvaged Nixon’s career, plucking a last-second success from the jaws of abject humiliation, and profoundly shaped Nixon’s personal and professional outlook, convincing him that television was a way to do an end-run around the press and the political “establishment.”

Click here for the full text of the “Checkers Speech.”

On September 24, 1960, USS Enterprise CVN-65, was launched from Newport News Shipbuilding in Norfolk, Virginia, the first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Enterprise was inactivated on December 1, 2012.

The Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John F. Kennedy was delivered to President Lyndon B. Johnson on September 24, 1964.

On September 23, 1976, President Gerald Ford and former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter met in their first televised debate. On September 24, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter resumed campaigning after the first debate.

On September 24, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter resumed campaigning after the first debate against President Gerald Ford.On September 24, 1979, CompuServe offered the first dial-up computer information service to consumers.

Launched as MicroNET in 1979 and sold through Radio Shack stores, the service turned out to be surprisingly popular, thanks perhaps to Radio Shack’s Tandy Model 100 computers, which were portable, rugged writing machines that dovetailed very nicely with the fledgling, 300-baud information service.

MicroNET was renamed the CompuServe Information Service in 1980. Around the same time, CompuServe began working with newspapers to offer online versions of their news stories, starting with the Columbus (Ohio) Dispatch in 1980. At least 10 major newspapers were offering online editions through CompuServe by 1982, including The Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the San Francisco Examiner.

Friends debuted on NBC on September 22, 1994.

The last game played in Atlanta-Fulton County Stadium took place on September 23, 1996.

On September 24, 2009, it was announced that the College Football Hall of Fame would move to Atlanta, where it opened on August 23, 2014.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump announced his nomination of Randy Evans as Ambassador to Luxembourg.

Mr. Evans is a distinguished attorney, author and public servant. He is currently a partner in the global law firm, Dentons US LLP, which has offices in over 90 countries, and co-chairs the Georgia Judicial Nominating Commission. Mr. Evans was Counsel to the Office of the Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives from 1995 – 2007. Mr. Evans has been a leader in both the American Bar Association and the Georgia Bar Association serving in senior positions in both. He has co-authored eight books and is a syndicated columnist writing on ethics, climate change and current events. Mr. Evans attended West Georgia College (B.A. 1980), Carrollton, Georgia, and the University of Georgia Law School (Juris Doctor 1983), Athens, Georgia.

The Trump Administration also announced the nomination of A.D. Frazier to the Tennessee Valley Authority.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders will campaign in Atlanta for Vincent Fort’s campaign for Atlanta Mayor.

Former Congressman Paul Broun is endorsing Judge Roy Moore in Alabama’s Republican Senate runoff. From the press release:

Former Congressman Paul Broun has announced his endorsement Judge Roy Moore for the U.S. Senate.

“Judge Moore is just the kind of man we need in the Senate. He has demonstrated the courage of his convictions over 20 years of service to the people of Alabama and I am confident he will continue to do the same in Washington.” said Broun, “When I was in Congress is used a four step criteria for evaluating legislation – Is it Constitutional and a proper function of government? Is it morally right? Is it something we need? Can we afford it? – I am confident that Roy Moore will do the same as Senator.”

Congressman Paul Broun served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 2007-2015. During his tenure, Congressman Broun was ranked in the Top 10 Conservatives by Heritage Action and received a career average rating of more than 95% Conservative from the American Conservative Union, Conservative Review, Americans for Prosperity, and Club for Growth.

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that OneTrust will create 500 new jobs and invest $5 million in Fulton County.

“Georgia’s status as a top technology hub continues to attract and retain innovative industry leaders like OneTrust,” said Deal. “With years of experience in Georgia’s business community, OneTrust’s leadership recognizes the advantages of operating and expanding in our competitive economic environment. By reinvesting in Georgia’s strategic resources and our deep talent pool, OneTrust will grow its access to the global market and reach its customer base more efficiently. This announcement is a testament to the strength of our technology infrastructure and will further strengthen Georgia’s reputation among technology companies in the global marketplace.”

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission decided against moving forward with charges in last year’s Muscogee County School Board elections.

After a 90-minute hearing Thursday in Atlanta, a state ethics commission chose not to pursue a complaint against Muscogee County School Board representatives Frank Myers and John Thomas for their efforts last year to defeat two board candidates in a runoff.

The hearing was to determine whether the board found “probable cause” to further investigate the actions of the committee “School Reform 2016,” through which Myers and Thomas funded a campaign against Cathy Williams, who won the July 26 runoff for the school board District 7 seat, and Pat Hugley Green, who was re-elected to represent District 1.

Though the ethics panel now called the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission chose not to pursue the case, it also did not dismiss the complaint. The effect was to table the matter.

Myers said the commission’s finding no probable cause was a victory for him and Thomas, ending 14 months of controversy. He repeatedly said during the hearing that he hoped it would settle the matter once and for all.

“I want this to be done,” he said.

SCANA was served with a federal subpoena for documents relating to the nuclear reactor construction project recently abandoned in South Carolina.

“The subpoena requires the Company to produce a broad range of documents related to the project,” SCANA officials wrote. “The Company intends to cooperate with the government’s investigation.”

SCANA is the parent company of South Carolina Electric & Gas Co. Along with Santee Cooper, the companies spent nearly $10 billion on two new reactors before deciding July 31 to halt construction following the bankruptcy of lead contractor Westinghouse.

The failure left nearly 6,000 people jobless.

A federal probe into the failure has been rumored, and Thursday’s news that Justice Department attorneys had issued subpoenas served as official confirmation of an investigation.

State lawmakers have convened panels looking into the failure, which has cost ratepayers more than $2 billion and accounts for 18 percent of SCE&G customers’ electric bills. A 2007 state law allows SCE&G to recoup its debt from customers if state regulators deem money was spent prudently, but legislators want to stop that.

Peach County Sheriff Terry Deese was named Sheriff of the Year by the Georgia Sheriffs’ Association.

Lawmen from across the state gave a standing ovation to their 2017 Sheriff of the Year during the fifth annual Salute to Georgia Sheriffs hosted by Jones County Sheriff Butch Reece at the Walnut Creek Shooting Preserve.

Georgia Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle spoke of the respect he has for Deese.

“I know the tears in the man’s eyes by having to do what he had to do, but that is what his duty is,” Cagle said. “I love a man who always leads with his heart.”

Not only did Deese rally his deputies, but he comforted the Sondron and Smallwood families, Cagle said.

The Peach County deputies were two killed in what Deese called a “very bad year for law enforcement.”

“In the state of Georgia, we lost nine good men for no reason,” Deese said.

Christopher Gyening announced he will run for the State House seat being vacated by John Pezold, who is not running for reelection.

Christopher Gyening, 27, announced his intentions Tuesday night at the Muscogee County Republican Party meeting. Gyening, who lives in north Columbus but attended high school in Troup County, is a non-traditional candidate for the seat, that covers parts of Muscogee, Harris and Troup counties.

Gyening is a 2016 Columbus State University graduate with a degree in military and global issues. He enlisted in the Georgia Army National Guard, 648 Maneuver Enhancement Brigade assigned to Fort Benning. He works as a part-time teller for Synovus.

Gyening said he was pleased with the way his announcement was received by the local Republican party.

“I am a young, black Republican and I think that kind of shocked everybody,” he said. “But between Troup County and living in north Columbus, I have been around this district for 10 years.”

Democrat Otha Thornton announced he will run for State School Superintendent in 2018.

Healthcare

In Washington, the Graham-Cassidy legislation would partially repeal Obamacare.

• Repeal the ACA Medicaid expansion and individual insurance market subsidies—including premium tax credits, cost-sharing reductions, and the basic health program—as of 2020.

• Create a new block grant program to states, which replaces the ACA’s Medicaid expansion and insurance subsidies, for years 2020-2026. States would have flexibility to use these funds to cover the cost of high-risk patients, assist individuals with premiums and cost-sharing, pay directly for health care services, or provide health insurance to a limited extent to people eligible for Medicaid.

• Convert federal funding for the traditional Medicaid program from an open-ended basis to a capped amount.

The bill also repeals the penalties under the ACA’s individual and employer mandates and allows states to waive benefit requirements and community rating in the individual and small group markets. The proposal would fundamentally alter the current federal approach to financing health coverage for more than 80 million people who have coverage through the ACA (Medicaid expansion or marketplace) or through the traditional Medicaid program.

Six states would see at least 40% more in federal funds under the proposal: Tennessee (44%), South Dakota (45%), Georgia (46%), Kansas (61%), Texas (75%), and Mississippi (148%).

CNN discusses procedures for Graham-Cassidy,

Due to procedural rules under reconciliation, Republicans can currently pass a health care bill with a 51-vote majority, but after September 30 they would need 60 votes, meaning they’d need help from Democrats — who are adamantly opposed to repealing the health care law known as Obamacare.

So far only one Republican — Sen. Rand Paul — has definitively refused to support the Graham-Cassidy bill, and Republicans, who hold a 52-48 majority, can only afford to lose one more of their own in order to pass the bill with a tie-breaking vote from Vice President Mike Pence. If they lose two more Republicans, then there’s no path for the bill as written to proceed.

Has serious concerns
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (Alaska) — “My issues are still how they derive the formula and how that works with the numbers for Alaska”
Sen. John McCain (Arizona) — “Deeply disturbed” by the lack of regular order on the bill, still looking at it “carefully”
Sen. Susan Collins (Maine) — Undecided but has concerns about Medicaid cuts, coverage numbers, and the fact that the full CBO score won’t be ready in time.

Unclear
Sen. Johnny Isakson (Georgia) — Spokeswoman said he was undecided
Sen. David Perdue (Georgia) — Said he was still looking at it

Andy Miller at Georgia Health News writes about the economic effects that follow a hospital closure in rural Georgia.

Opportunity has been dying in Wheeler County for the last 20 years. Agriculture was once the primary employer, yet the Wheeler Correctional Facility, a privately run prison, is now the biggest source of jobs. With 39 percent of the central Georgia county’s population living in poverty, there aren’t enough patients with good insurance to keep a hospital from losing money.

The hospital’s closure eliminated the county’s biggest health care provider and dispatched yet another major employer. Glenwood’s mayor of 34 years, G.M. Joiner, doubts that the town will ever recover.

“It’s been devastating,” the 72-year-old mayor said, leaning on one of the counters in Glenwood’s one-room city hall. “I tell folks that move here, ‘This is a beautiful place to live, but you better have brought money, because you can’t make any here.’ ”

The drive to the nearest hospitals in neighboring counties averages between 30 and 45 minutes, depending on where the patient is coming from in Wheeler County. The county’s two ambulances don’t carry blood. And any delay in getting to an emergency room can be deadly for someone who has suffered a heart attack, a stroke or massive trauma.

Wheeler County’s director of emergency medical services, Selena Howell, estimates that keeping Lower Oconee Community Hospital open would have made the difference in saving four or five lives over the last three years.

“Now that may not seem like a lot, but it sure meant something to those folks’ families,” she said.

many uninsured people have come to rely on emergency room care. Under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Labor Act of 1986, hospitals are required to screen and stabilize patients regardless of their insurance status or ability to pay, which means hospitals often end up absorbing the costs associated with those patients. This is called “bad debt.”

Meanwhile, financial help from the federal government has decreased in recent years. Due to sequestration, Medicare payments have been reduced. To find the funds to insure more people, the Affordable Care Act cut back a program to reimburse rural hospitals for bad debt. And cuts are coming to the Disproportionate Share Hospital program, which provides extra funding for hospitals that serve higher levels of low-income patients.

If you’re interested in healthcare policy or in economic development, the article is worth reading in its entirety.

Max Blau takes a look at the impact of cuts to Disproportionate Share Hospitals (DSH) payments.

Since the ’80s, Disproportionate Share Hospitals payments — a part of Medicaid and Medicare — have offset a portion of the uncompensated care hospitals provide to patients every year. But because of a quirk of Obamacare’s implementation, the payments were slated to be gradually cut over an eight-year period. After temporary extensions over the past three years, the first of a total $43 billion in payment cuts are set to kick in on October 1.

Grady Health System faces the prospect of at least $11 million in cuts in 2018 — growing to $45 million in 2024 — that would be a “major hit to Grady’s bottom line,” according to CEO John Haupert. In recent years, Haupert has warned that cuts to DSH payments may force his hospital to close either its OB-GYN clinic or mental health department — the latter being the second-largest provider of mental health services in Georgia.

21
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 21, 2017

Snowflake1

Snowflake is a 10-month old female Alaskan Malamute mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Abby

Abby is a 10-month old female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

Randall

Randall is a year-old male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter.

21
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 21, 2017

On September 21, 1863, the federal Army of the Cumberland retreated to Chattanooga after its defeat at Chickamauga.

Bert Lance resigned as Director of the Office of Management and Budget under President Jimmy Carter on September 21, 1977. After a jury acquitted him on ten federal charges in 1980, Lance served as Chair of the Democratic Party of Georgia from 1982 to 1985.

General Colin Powell was confirmed by the Senate Armed Services Committee as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on September 21. 1989. Powell served as National Security Advisor to President Ronald Reagan before being appointed Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff by President George H.W. Bush; in 2000, Powell was nominated by President George W. Bush as Secretary of State, the first African-American to hold that post.

On September 21, 2011, R.E.M. announced on their website that they were quitting as a band.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal cut the ribbon at a metal shop in Hall County Correctional Institute.

As a former prosecutor, Gov. Nathan Deal said one of the most frustrating parts of the job was the “revolving door,” seeing the same faces and families in court because they “never broke the cycle that they are living in.”

“Some people think mere passage of time is rehabilitation,” Deal said. “It is not. In fact, it may be the exact opposite in many cases.”

The Re-entry Accountability Court Transition program, which started in 2014 for non-violent offenders to get substance abuse treatment and vocational training, is overseen by Superior Court Judge Andrew Fuller. Lanier Technical College and WorkSource Georgia are partners in the welding shop program.

“We’re going to produce 30 returning citizens to Hall County on an annual basis that will have a national and state certification in welding,” Warden Walt Davis said. “That’s a skill that’s needed in this area.”

“The families of those inmates will now have a paycheck that they can depend on. Children will be supported. They won’t be in the prison system, and they won’t be in our court system in-and-out,” [Gov. Deal] said.

The State Elections Board turned over to the Attorney General’s office fifty-three voter registration forms that appear fradulent.

Fifty-three allegedly forged voter applications are being referred to the state Attorney General’s Office for possible prosecution, a decision by the State Elections Board that effectively closes the Secretary of State Office’s 2014 fraud investigation involving an attention-grabbing registration drive by the New Georgia Project.

The unanimous vote Wednesday came as the case’s lead investigator said he found no wrongdoing by the group, which was founded by then-state House Democratic leader Stacey Abrams to increase the number of minorities on voting rolls.

It allows Attorney General Chris Carr to decide whether to prosecute those involved: 14 people that investigator Russell Lewis said essentially acted as independent contractors registering new voters.

The project, however, has continued to take an active role in registration efforts across the state, even as Abrams has stepped back from its operations. To date, those working with the project say it has submitted more than 215,000 voter registration forms, although not all those forms have been accepted.

FEMA and GEMA officials toured Gwinnett County yesterday to assess damages from Hurricane Irma.

[Jennifer] Busch’s home was one of about 26 houses that Federal Emergency Management Agency and Georgia Emergency Management Agency representatives visited with Gwinnett County officials on Wednesday. The FEMA and GEMA officials were assessing damage from Tropical Storm Irma to see if the county could qualify for a Declaration of Individual Assistance.

It’s part of a long process that county officials are going through to try and get recovery assistance for Gwinnett residents whose homes were damaged during the storm.

“From a federal perspective, what we’re looking for is damage to the essential living quarters,” FEMA Emergency Management Program Specialist Steve Michaels said. “We’ve had one home where it was the garage that was damaged. The rest of the house was still functional even though the garage was messed up pretty significantly (so), to us, that would be like a minor issue because it’s not an essential part of the house …

“If it’s going through the middle of the house, what we’re looking for is major structural components being impacted.”

The FEMA assessor praised the work Gwinnett’s assessment team did after the storm to evaluate damage. County officials said they compiled their list of damaged structures by looking at 9-1-1 calls and at a state-run website that allows homeowners to report damage online.

About 200 structures were reportedly damaged in Gwinnett during the storm. County code enforcement officers began going around to check damaged structures Sept. 13.

“They’ve been pretty right on,” Michaels said. “Gwinnett County is very detail oriented and their system that they utilize and implement is one of the best I’ve seen. I’m just sort of validating that the work that they’ve already put into it is accurate, at a federal assessment level, which so far it is.”

Contrast that with Gwinnett County’s rebranding effort.

The colorful overlapping shapes of the logo revealed Tuesday look like a knockoff of the logo for Internet browser Google Chrome, they said. The cursive font used for the slogan — “vibrantly connected” — is hard to read, they said. Why can’t we just bring back the water towers, they said.

I hope it was free, they said.

The logo, slogan and other re-branding efforts — which are not final, could be tweaked and still must be voted on by the county’s Board of Commissioners — in fact cost about $123,000, according to a contract approved by the board in February. And not everyone hates them.

The Judicial Nominating Commission is accepting nominations for a newly-created seat on the Superior Court for the Northeastern Judicial Circuit, serving Hall and Dawson Counties.

Georgia Department of Family and Children Services Director Bobby Cagle will take over the equivalent agency in Los Angeles.

The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors has selected Bobby Cagle as head of the Department of Children and Family Services, the sprawling child welfare agency that has suffered from mismanagement, a handful of high-profile child deaths and a shortage of foster homes in recent years.

Cagle, a former foster youth and case worker himself, serves as director of the Division of Family and Children Services under Georgia’s Department of Human Services.

Cagle’s contract, salary and moving expenses still have to be negotiated and are subject to final approval by the board.

Cagle will take the helm of an agency with a $2.4-billion budget that is responsible for 34,000 youth across Los Angeles County, more than half of whom are in “out-of-home” care.

Five candidates are running for Smyrna City Council Ward 3.

Councilwoman Teri Anulewicz stepped down from the council position earlier this month after nearly 10 years in office to make a bid for the state House. She is running unopposed for the District 42 position formerly held by Stacey Evans, D-Smyrna, who is running for governor.

Qualifying ended at noon Wednesday at Smyrna City Hall with Maryline Blackburn and Jeff Carter entering the field, which already had business owner Travis Lindley, attorney Adam Taylor and Marshall Moon, who works in security.

Fire Fighters Unions  endorsed Mary Norwood and Ceasar Mitchell for Mayor of Atlanta.

IAFF announced its backing of Norwood at a morning event near Fire Station No. 1 in the shadow of the new Mercedes-Benz Stadium. The union, which has more than 560 paying members, also endorsed Norwood in her 2009 bid for the city’s top job. It did not make an endorsement in 2013.

“Mary Norwood is known citywide, said IAFF Local 134 President Paul Gerdis, who added that the organization picked Norwood because of her commitment to public safety.

“She lost the mayor’s race by only 700 votes in 2009,” Gerdis said. “We’re not going to let that happen again. We believe we can be a difference maker in this race.”

Mitchell, who is president of the Atlanta City Council, was endorsed by Progressive Firefighters of Atlanta Local 134, an independent fire fighting labor group, during a press conference on the steps of City Hall.

The group, which has around 325 members, praised Mitchell for being a leader on pay equity, including helping efforts to increase the city’s minimum wage to $15, raise firefighter starting salaries to $40,000 and restructure the city’s pension plan.

Fulton County voters will have three candidates to choose from for Commission Chair in the November Special Election.

Qualifying wrapped up at noon Wednesday, and voters will have three candidates to choose from on the Nov. 7 ballot: Keisha Waites, Robb Pitts and Gabriel Sterling.

Waites is a former State House member who represented District 60, which includes portions of Fulton and Clayton counties. Pitts is a former Fulton County Commissioner who served between 2002 and 2014 and Sterling sits on the Sandy Springs City Council.

The county will also hold a special election to fill the District 4 seat on the County Commission, which was vacated with the passing of Joan Garner. Candidates who’ve qualified for that seat are Eddie Lee Brewster, Kathryn Flowers Glasco, Natalie Hall, Steven D. Lee, Sr., Reese McCranie and Joshua McNair. The winner of that race will serve out the remainder of Garner’s term, which also expires in December 2018.

Kennesaw State Political Scientist Kerwin Swint predicts that Georgia’s electorate will become purple in 2024.

We’ve had several false alarms. Many thought Barack Obama had a chance of carrying Georgia in the 2012 election, but by the time November rolled around, Mitt Romney won here by a comfortable eight points. In 2014 many pundits were convinced that Georgia was turning purple, as early polling had Michelle Nunn besting David Perdue in the U.S. Senate race, and Jason Carter running even with Gov. Nathan Deal. But 2014 turned out to be a mirage. Perdue beat Nunn by eight points, and Deal also beat Carter by eight.

Then in 2016, stop me if you’ve heard this one, the national Democratic Party and national media outlets were buzzing over Georgia becoming the newest swing state, likely to go to Hillary Clinton in the presidential election, again according to polling. Then November came, and Donald Trump carried Georgia by six points.

GOP supporters tend to be older with higher incomes, which means they have a higher rate of voter turnout. Also, Republicans in Georgia these days normally get to run as incumbents. Then there’s the gerrymandering of districts, which Republicans will probably get to do again after the 2020 Census, unless Democrats manage to win the Governor’s Mansion in 2018, again an uphill struggle.

That’s why I have the Year of Turning Purple pegged at 2024. It will be a presidential election year, so turnout will be high. The presidency will either be open or it will be a Democrat running for re-election. And Georgia will have several more cycles of new voters added to the mix, most of whom will likely be reliably Democrat.

The Graham-Cassidy federal healthcare bill would benefit Georgia in the short-term, according to Andy Miller with Georgia Health News.

The Graham-Cassidy bill – named for its Republican sponsors, Sens. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina and Bill Cassidy of Louisiana — would get rid of many Affordable Care Act provisions, including states’ expansion of their Medicaid programs.

It would take that money and other ACA funding and redistribute it more equally across states, allowing them greater flexibility to shape their health care systems.

The “block grant’’ approach would lead to less funding for states that expanded Medicaid and had high enrollment in their health insurance exchanges, such as California and New York. Non-expansion states such as Georgia would generally gain under the change.

The legislation has until Sept. 30 to pass. No Democratic senators support it, so the Republicans will need almost all their 52 senators to vote for it. The bill could pass with 50 Republican votes, since Vice President Mike Pence would be the one to break a 50-50 tie.

President Trump says he will sign the legislation if it reaches his desk.

The bill worries groups representing doctors and hospitals, as well as consumer advocacy organizations.

A former MARTA executive is accused of stealing half-a-million dollars and buying a Porsche 911, among other things.

A former executive at Atlanta’s MARTA (Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority) public transit system pleaded guilty in federal court to defrauding MARTA of more than $500,000 by writing fake invoices.

Joseph J. Erves 52, of Lithonia, Georgia, was charged via criminal information with one count of Federal Program Theft. Erves has pleaded guilty.

Erves worked at MARTA from 1993-2017 as its senior director of operations. Erves oversaw the maintenance of all buses and rail cars and could approve payments of up to $10,000 for work performed on behalf of MARTA.

Erves personally approved payments to the vendors, who then funneled most of the money back into Erves’s personal bank accounts. He used the money to purchase a Porsche 911 and multiple products at high-end department stores, police say.

Erves had a previous drug conviction and had been sentenced to 41 months in federal prison in 1987, the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported. He was released in 1992.

Can’t fault his taste in cars, but maybe it was a little conspicuous in the MARTA parking lot.

20
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 20, 2017

Buffy

Buffy is a female Vizsla mix puppy who is available for adoption from Catoosa Citizens for Animal Care in Ringgold, GA.

Payton Catoosa

Payton is a young male mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from Catoosa Citizens for Animal Care in Ringgold, GA.

Freddie

Freddie is a male Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from Pet Friends in Chickamauga, GA.

20
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 20, 2017

On September 20, 1863, the Confederate Army of the Tennessee under General Braxton Bragg repelled Union forces under General William Rosencrans at the Battle of Chickamauga. After Gettysburg, Chickamauga is generally considered the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union dead.

The first classes at Oglethorpe University under it’s current non-denominational charter were held on September 20, 1916. Happy 101st Anniversary to the Stormy Petrels. The university was originally affiliated with the Presbyterian Church and located in Midway, Georgia. In 1870, after a period of closure during the Civil War they relocated to the Atlanta area. Currently, a collection of more than 20,000 pieces of political campaign materials is on display at the Weltner Library on Oglethorpe’s campus.

On September 20, 1976, Playboy magazine released an interview with Jimmy Carter, then a candidate for President.

During the 1976 campaigns, a 13-foot tall smiling peanut sculpture was created by the Indiana Democratic Party for Carter’s presidential campaign.

Since 1976, the Jimmy Carter Smiling Peanut has held its position as the world’s second largest peanut, “the most photographed thing in Plains”, and one of the oddest monuments to a politician worldwide. Unfortunately, in 2000, a reckless driver crashed into the peanut, whose wooden hoops, chicken wire, and aluminum foil weren’t enough to keep it upright. After the accident, the peanut was moved from the Plains train depot to the Davis E-Z Shop in Plains, where it remains today. Although the peanut has been kept in pristine form, the fence surrounding it has become dilapidated as a result of over a decade of tourists posing for photos on it.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that the Georgia Department of Economic Development helped create more than 30,000 jobs this year in Georgia.

Gov. Nathan Deal [] visited the new Honeywell North American Software Center and announced that the Georgia Department of Economic Development’s (GDEcD) Global Commerce Division helped create a total of 30,309 new jobs during FY 17, generating a record-breaking $6.33 billion in investments. This growth is a result of the expansion or relocation of 377 companies covering every region of the state.

“Georgia has consistently been named the No. 1 state for business as companies from around the world continue to choose Georgia to relocate their headquarters or expand operations,” said Deal. “Once companies plant roots here in Georgia, they seem to grow at impressive rates, thanks in part to the business-friendly climate we have carefully cultivated and our highly skilled workforce. The FY 17 investment numbers and new jobs figures represent not only meaningful opportunities for communities across our state, but also new sources of income for more than 30,000 families. From the support of our state legislature and local officials, Georgia has proven to be a reliable and responsible place for businesses of all sizes to plan for future growth. I commend Commissioner Pat Wilson for his leadership, as well as the dedicated GDEcD team that works to keep Georgia on the minds of business executives around the world. These successes should serve as a point of pride for all Georgians and I look forward to more days of celebration like this one in the years to come.”

In FY 17:

  • Businesses already located in Georgia accounted for 59 percent of total jobs created (17,865 of 30,309) and 58 percent of overall investment ($3.7 billion).
  • Companies new to the state created 12,444 jobs and generated $2.64 billion in investments.
  • Georgia’s financial technology sector saw the most significant job growth, with an increase of 250 percent over FY 16. The software and technology industry increased projects by 30 percent (42 projects), representing 9,821 jobs and $1.4 billion in investments.
  • The state’s workforce saw significant job growth in the following industries: logistics and distribution (85 percent), automotive (95 percent) and digital media (97 percent). The food processing sector also saw a 119 percent increase in projects over FY 16.
  • Eighty-six Foreign Direct Investment international projects created more than 6,000 jobs and generated over $1.6 billion in investments.
  • The Athens region saw the greatest number of new jobs (2,918) and the LaGrange region experienced the largest total investment with $766 million.
  • Eighty percent of total economic development announcements were outside of the metro Atlanta region.
  • International investments from European companies included 51 locations, creating 4,468 jobs and generating $809 million in investments. Among European companies, those from Germany, Ireland and Italy created the most jobs in Georgia.
  • Investments from companies in Asian countries included 22 locations, creating 1,445 jobs and generating $751 million in investments. Companies from China, Japan and South Korea provided the largest investments among countries in Asia.
  • Companies from Canada and the Middle East generated total investments of $34 million and $20.4 million, respectively.
  • The Entrepreneur and Small Business team served 1,760 companies in FY 17, 60 percent of which were startup companies.

Gov. Deal issued writs of election for State House District 26, formerly held by Geoff Duncan (R), District 4, formerly held by Bruce Broadrick (R), and District 60, formerly held by Keisha Waites (D). The special elections will be held November 7, 2017.

Secretary of State Brian Kemp scheduled qualifying in HD 26 to begin today at 9 AM to 5 PM and continue Thursday from 9 AM to 5 PM and Friday from 9 AM to 1 PM in the SOS office at 2 MLK, Jr., Drive in Atlanta.

Forsyth County Commissioners voted 3-1 to study compensation for commissioners.

The vote was 3-1, with Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills against and the District 2 seat vacant, to move forward with a study now that the county has hired a county manager.

The topic first came up in June when the board began discussing increased compensation. Just weeks after voting to move forward with a bid to increase the annual compensation, commissioners denied a proposal for a study.

Then in August, the board denied a 25 percent pay raise that had been approved in July.

Now, commissioners are revisiting the topic, and they have decided to go ahead with a study comparing salaries of commissioners in neighboring counties.

County Attorney Ken Jarrard said the study has to be done before election qualifying in 2018. If approved, the raise wouldn’t go into effect until January 1, 2019.

The last proposal that was shot down was for an annual salary for the chair of $49,500 and an annual salary for other board members set at $48,000.

Eric Johnson has begun work as the new Forsyth County Manager.

Three candidates for Roswell City Council Post 4 are profiled by NorthFulton.com.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved an initial 30-month contract to provide body cameras for law enforcement officers.

The initial three-month term will cost $30,666. If it is renewed to its full potential length, however, the cameras and data management system would cost just over $4.4 million.

“Body worn cameras can help improve the quality of service expected from personnel in the police department, sheriff’s department and corrections department, as well as promote legitimacy and the sense of procedural justice that the citizens of Gwinnett County expect from their law enforcement officials,” Police Chief Butch Ayers told commissioners.

The only question from commissioners about the contract with Axon Enterprises came from Commissioner John Heard, who inquired about the initial length of the contract being three months.

“I’m so happy that we are getting this initiated,” Heard said. “Why is it only for a quarter instead of a year or a continuation?”

Ayers said it was set-up issue.

“The initial item is for license procurement and user license,” he said. “We have to do all of that first and then I expect the contract could be automatically renewed and we expect the project to start probably next month and implementation of the program in the first two quarters of 2018.”

Congressmen Rob Woodall (R-Gwinnett) and Drew Ferguson (R-LaGrange) met with the Georgia Chamber of Commerce and Georgia Transportation Alliance to discuss transportation priorities.

Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson denounced a string of murders in the city.

“There have been 26 murders in Columbus this year,” read the statement. “ We are all simultaneously heartsick and frustrated with the level of killing, particularly in this third quarter.”

The three deaths increased the number of 2017 homicides to 26, according to the Columbus Police Department. Muscogee County Coroner puts the number at 32.

“We will continue to concentrate on breaking up areas of known criminal activity,” the mayor said in the statement, “and will continue to ask for the public’s support in helping us get suspects in these murders off the street.”

Kennesaw City Council approved higher fees for sanitation and streetlights.

Gwinnett County is seeking federal aid for recovery from Hurricane Irma.

Stockbridge Mayor Judy Neal withdrew from November’s election.

“After much thought and prayers, I have made the decision to remove my name from the 2017 municipal election ballot. It was not an easy decision, especially because so many Stockbridge citizens, business leaders, donors, pastors and especially staff have supported me so strongly,” stated Neal in a press release.

According to Henry County Elections Director Tina Lunsford, Neal withdrew her name from the race Sept. 5, just 12 days after she qualified for the seat.

Perry City Council adopted the same millage rate for FY 2018 as was used in 2017.

Bainbridge City Council heard a proposed amendment to the alcohol ordinance that would allow open containers in the central business district.

Chatham County officials are considering a proposal to open a 24-hour mental health crisis center.

In a recent presentation to the Chatham County Commission, CEO of Gateway Behavioral Health Services Dr. Mark Johnson said opening a behavioral health crisis center in the county would fill a number of gaps in the community, from providing care to those in desperate need to redirecting low-level offenders suffering from a mental illness out of local jails and emergency rooms.

In Chatham, Johnson said, a crisis center would likely need more beds than what are provided by the facility in Griffin. He proposed a 20,000-square-foot crisis center for Chatham County that would house six beds for 23-hour observation, 24-beds for longer term care — on average, long term stays are about five days — and a walk-in function that allows clients to be seen in less than an hour.

The concept would be less expensive than the constructing a mental health hospital, he said, or continuing the current method of transporting lower level offenders to the county jail. Johnson said that although it’s difficult to quantify just how much constructing a crisis center would save in annual costs at the jail, some scenarios he presented put the savings at between $1.5 million and $4.6 million annually.

“In terms of the effect on the jail, it certainly bends … the costs in the right direction,” he said.

DeKalb County Commissioners approved a project list for a proposed new sales tax.

A proposed sales tax increase in DeKalb County would primarily fund the repaving of cracked and pothole-filled roads, along with building new fire stations, buying police cars and renovating parks, according to a project list approved Tuesday.

The projects would be funded by a sales tax increase, from 7 percent to 8 percent, if voters support it during a Nov. 7 referendum. The special purpose local option sales tax (SPLOST) would raise about $100 million a year for infrastructure over the next six years.

The project list, approved by a 5-2 vote Tuesday, would cost $388 million that would be raised from sales taxes in unincorporated DeKalb. Another $249 million would go to city governments, which are voting on their own infrastructure project lists this month.

Road repairs are the county’s highest priority for the SPLOST. The project list sets aside $151 million for resurfacing, enough money to repave more than 318 miles of the county’s most neglected streets. That amount represents 39 percent of the unincorporated area’s funds.

Georgia Public Service Commissioners approved a timeline for Plant Vogtle under which they will vote in February whether to continue with construction.

On Tuesday, the Georgia Public Service Commission voted to approve the schedule for a round of hearings on spending at Plant Vogtle. This is routine, every six months the utility presents its costs to the regulators.

What’s different this time around is that Georgia Power will also make its case to keep the project going, despite years of delays and a budget that has grown by billions of dollars. The utility expects to have both nuclear reactors in operation in 2022; they were initially supposed to be up-and-running by now. And the cost has doubled, to more than $20 billion.

The hearings at the Georgia PSC will begin in early November.

From the Savannah Morning News:

Georgia Power spokesman Jacob Hawkins on Tuesday reiterated his previous statement that the company is doing what’s required of it for Vogtle Construction Monitoring, or VCM.

“We filed the 17th VCM Report and recommendation to move forward with the Vogtle expansion on August 31, including responses to specific issues requested by the Georgia PSC such as the reasonableness of the revised cost and schedule forecast,” he wrote in an email. “It is ultimately up to the Georgia PSC to determine the structure of each VCM proceeding — we will continue to work with the Georgia PSC and all parties through the VCM process.

The approved schedule includes hearings on the cases of staff and intervenors on four days, Dec. 11-14. The PSC expects to make a ruling in the case by February.

Live Saving Events

The Forsyth County Suicide Summit will be held on September 20, 2017, beginning at 6:30 PM at the Forsyth Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd in Cumming.

There have been more than 20 suicides in Forsyth County since January.

That is one reason a group of community members, including Commissioner Cindy Jones Mills, created the inaugural Forsyth County Suicide Summit. The event will be held at 6:30 p.m., Sept. 20 at the Forsyth Conference Center, 3410 Ronald Reagan Blvd.

“We want people to walk away with hope,” Mills said. “It doesn’t have to be about despair. We want to offer more coping skills and be a community about love. We’ve been named the healthiest county the past few years, but wellness goes beyond what you see on the outside.”

“We’ve had a lot of discussions about mental health in the county,” Mills said. “It’s a big issue we’re facing. I started looking at the numbers and talking to deputies and realized how big of an issue we have here.”

Mills attended Gwinnett County’s Mental Health and Substance Abuse Summit and toyed with the idea of also combining the two topics.

“I didn’t think it would do either justice,” Mills said. “They are so much bigger issues than could be covered together. It wouldn’t be fair to either.”

Forsyth County’s total of 22 suicides since January, she said, is high compared to surrounding counties.

“It’s disturbing,” Mills said. “It’s across the gamut and not in just one [type of people]. It’s not all attributed to drugs. Earlier this year, there were two high schoolers who didn’t know each other that did it the same day.”

Forum: Pain Pills and Heroin are Killing Our Families will be held September 26, 2017, 6:30 to 8 PM at Brenau Downtown Center, 301 Main Street, Gainesville, GA 30501.

Georgia Connects Cherokee Chapter is holding a Town Hall on Opioid Abuse on October 2, 2017, 7 to 9 PM at First Baptist Church of Woodstock, Building A Chapel
11905 Highway 92, Woodstock, GA 30188.