Jones answers Effingham candidacy challenge | savannahnow.com

In a reply filed Friday with the Georgia Supreme Court, lawyers for Effingham County Commissioner Vera Jones called a voter’s continuing challenge to her eligibility as a candidate “meritless” and “frivolous.”

An application for discretionary appeal was filed with the court on behalf of Andrew Brantley, a voter in Jones’ District 2.

Springfield attorney Rick Rafter argued on Brantley’s behalf that Jones was paid $590,000 too much in 2007 for sewer systems at subdivisions her company was developing in the county and that she refused to return the overpayment when asked.

The Effingham Board of Elections voted on April 4 to dismiss the challenge to Jones’ candidacy and Superior Court Judge F. Gates Peed on May 21 affirmed the board’s decision, saying there was “no evidence to support petitioner’s claim that any money was being unlawfully held.”

via Jones answers Effingham candidacy challenge | savannahnow.com.

Judge rules Chatham County must pay probate judge’s attorney fees | savannahnow.com

Chatham County must pay the attorney fees of the county’s probate judge, who is suing the county over his compensation, a judge ruled on Tuesday.

In his quick opinion from the bench, Liberty County Superior Court Judge Charles Rose Jr. said a conflict of interest exists between County Attorney Jon Hart representing both the county and a county officer, Probate Judge Harris Lewis, in the civil case, necessitating outside counsel.

He cited Dougherty County v. Saba, a 2004 Georgia Supreme Court case, in his decision.

“There’s no question that Judge Lewis as a Probate judge is protected under (state code 45-9-21 (e)(2)),” said Rose, who was appointed to the case after local judges recused themselves.

via Judge rules Chatham County must pay probate judge’s attorney fees | savannahnow.com.

Navy has its first female four-star admiral | savannahnow.com

WASHINGTON — The Navy has its first female four-star admiral.

She is Michelle Janine Howard, promoted on Tuesday to the service’s highest rank. The ceremony was held at the Women in Military Service for America Memorial at the Arlington National Cemetery, near the Pentagon.

She will serve as the vice chief of naval operations, which makes her the No. 2 admiral in the Navy behind Adm. Jonathan Greenert, the chief of naval operations.

via Navy has its first female four-star admiral | savannahnow.com.

Savannah ranked number three city in U.S. and Canada | savannahnow.com

NEW YORK – Savannah is rated the No. 3 city in the U.S. and Canada, according to the Travel + Leisure World’s Best Awards 2014 readers’ survey announced today and available now on www.TravelandLeisure.com.

Savannah moved up from its seventh place ranking among cities in the U.S. and Canada last year.

Top 10 cities in the U.S. and Canada 2014:

1. Charleston, S.C.
2. New Orleans
3. Savannah

via Savannah ranked number three city in U.S. and Canada | savannahnow.com.

Army cuts threaten Georgia jobs | The Augusta Chronicle

A new Army report says Fort Gordon and Georgia could lose thousands of additional military jobs beyond current downsizing plans if Washington imposes future automatic budget cuts, though officials who keep a close watch on the state’s bases say they doubt such severe cutbacks will actually happen.

The report issued last week outlines the Army’s hypothetical, worst-case predictions for job losses at 30 bases across the U.S., including three in Georgia. It shows Fort Stewart near Savannah could lose up to 16,000 soldiers and civilian workers — more than three-fourths of its current workforce. In addition, Fort Benning in Columbus could shed as many as 10,800 jobs and Fort Gordon in Augusta faces up to 4,600 positions being axed.

All combined, the Army says, the cutbacks could cost Georgia $1.7 billion in lost annual income.

State and local officials who work to protect Georgia’s military interests said they’re not too alarmed. While the Army is downsizing from about 570,000 troops to a projected 450,000, its report was written to show how severe reductions could become if the Pentagon faces more automatic, across-the-board budget cuts because the president and Congress can’t agree on future budgets.

“While we of course take the Army processes seriously, this exercise seems to be built around worst-case scenarios not likely to pass muster in Congress,” said Will Ball, a former Navy secretary who heads a lobbying initiative launched by Gov. Nathan Deal to advocate for Georgia’s military bases.

Army commanders have warned Congress that more automatic cuts could force them to shrink the total force to 420,000 soldiers — a number they insist is too low to meet U.S. defense needs. The new base-by-base report essentially puts the cost in economic terms on a local level, showing policymakers and their constituents how painful the cuts could become in their home communities.

via Army cuts threaten Georgia jobs | The Augusta Chronicle.

Georgia House Bill 60 doesn’t stop gun prohibition at Augusta Municipal Building | The Augusta Chronicle

Despite the passage and implementation today of Georgia House Bill 60, ordinary armed Augustans still can’t carry their weapons, concealed or otherwise, into the city’s municipal building, courthouse or sheriff’s office.

“As long as the building is protected by security, the permit holder still cannot bring a weapon in,” said Lt. Bryan Patterson of the Richmond County Marshal’s Office, which handles security at the Augusta Municipal Building.

The bill opened the door for anyone with a weapons carry license to enter any government building with a weapon, so long as the building doesn’t have a security checkpoint where visitors are screened for firearms.

If it does, however, as is the case at the Augusta Municipal Building – which doubles as a “courthouse annex,” Augusta-Richmond County Judicial Center and John Ruffin Courthouse, and the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office – visitors cannot be charged with unlawfully carrying a weapon as long as they notify law enforcement.

In addition, visitors must follow instructions for temporarily removing, securing and storing the weapon, according to Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens.

For Augusta Recreation, Parks and Facilities visitors the rules aren’t changing, either, and permit holders are allowed to carry weapons on city property.

“The only place guns specifically can be prevented is where there is literally a guard at the door,” said Recreation Director Bob Levine. “We don’t have that situation at any of our facilities.”

via Georgia House Bill 60 doesn’t stop gun prohibition at Augusta Municipal Building | The Augusta Chronicle.

Peach sellers look to recover from low supplies, high prices | The Augusta Chronicle

After a slow start, plenty of peaches are hitting local fruit stands.

Produce seller Sebrena Muirhead lost out on peach sales in May and June. Farms in South Carolina’s prime peach-growing region were asking too high a price because of a shortage of early variety peaches, she said.

On the first day of July, Muirhead said supplies were picking up, perfect timing for her customers hoping to make peach cobblers and homemade ice cream during the July Fourth holiday weekend.

“Everything’s back to normal. It’s much easier to get them,” said Muirhead, wiping her brow at the tailgate of her red Chevy pickup parked in the 1700 block of Walton Way.

A hard freeze in late March ruined South Carolina’s early peach crop, causing about $80 million in damage. With a low supply, high prices hit most sellers hard until later varieties were ready for picking.

via Peach sellers look to recover from low supplies, high prices | The Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County Sheriff’s Office acquires surplus military equipment | The Augusta Chronicle

The Richmond County Sheriff’s Office might now have what it needs to survive a zombie apocalypse.

The department announced Tuesday it has acquired a wide-ranging assortment of government military surplus items, including a mine-resistant vehicle, a dozen Humvees, 50 body bags and 500 chests of ammunition. It’s all part of more than $3.4 million in equipment military surplus equipment picked up since January at little or no cost.

“This is something that we might have needed and we didn’t have to spend any money,” Capt. Calvin Chew said. “We could use (the money) in the budget for something else now. All around, it’s a great program and it’s something the sheriff is very proud of.”

The department has wasted no time in putting the equipment to use, Chew said. The Humvees arrived Jan. 22, and were quickly put into service transporting medical personnel to and from work in the wake of a February ice storm that crippled much of the Augusta area. The four-wheel drive capabilities allowed deputies to travel icy roads to rescue stranded citizens, he said.

via Richmond County Sheriff’s Office acquires surplus military equipment | The Augusta Chronicle.

PolitiFact: Claim of ‘worst’ governor for education ignores… | www.myajc.com

The Carter camp issued a statement saying “Gov. Deal has the worst record on education in the history of this state.” Spokesman Bryan Thomas later said the camp was referring to his record on education funding and specifically pointed to austerity cuts during his administration. Annual austerity cuts topped $1 billion in his first three budgets, but they also were that high in the last two budgets of his predecessor, Sonny Perdue.

The Carter camp can’t prove that among Georgia’s 82 governors Deal’s record is the worst on education in general or on education funding in specific.

The Carter campaign’s charge was incendiary — that the sitting governor has the worst education record in Georgia’s history. And we smell smoke.

We award it our lowest rating, Pants On Fire.

via PolitiFact: Claim of ‘worst’ governor for education ignores… | www.myajc.com.