An Augusta man who broke into the home of an injured soldier and shot her service dog was sentenced Thursday to the maximum possible – 25 years in prison.
Retribution isn’t always a bad concept, especially in the case of a decorated war hero who was willing to give her life for the U.S. before she had even become a citizen, Judge Daniel J. Craig said.
After hearing the evidence, a Richmond County Superior Court jury took less than 15 minutes to convict Joshua Patterson, 33.
A proposal by the Savannah Economic Development Authority to eliminate an inventory tax for manufacturers has received the support of city leaders.
The City Council approved a resolution on Thursday to place the Freeport Exemption on the May 20 ballot for voters to consider.
If approved, city officials would then determine how to phase out the tax, which raises about $1.6 million annually.
The tax exemption, which Chatham County already has in place, was proposed by SEDA, as well as a group of local business representatives established by the mayor.
The groups focused solely on exempting qualified manufacturers’ goods and not on retail property.
“There is no competitive advantage for us to do that,” SEDA President Trip Tollison told the City Council during a morning workshop.
Tollison said the tax on manufacturers’ goods makes it harder for Savannah to compete with other cities that have already implemented the exemption.
ATLANTA — A half-dozen contract-school workers complained Thursday they weren’t allowed to testify before a House committee voted to end their unemployment benefits.
The committee passed legislation that disqualifies employees of companies contracted to schools as a cost-saving measure. The companies normally lay off the workers during school holidays, encouraging them to apply for the benefits.
The vice chairman of the House Industry and Labor Committee, Rep. Chad Nimmer, refused shouts from the audience to allow testimony before the party-line vote for House Bill 714, sponsored by the committee Chairman Mark Hamilton. He said the legislators had other meetings to rush to.
Testimony is customarily given in subcommittees, but worker representatives said notice of the subcommittee meeting was only made public hours beforehand. That wasn’t adequate time for the workers to get away from their jobs, especially those from Savannah and Valdosta who wanted to participate.
Rep. Pete Marin, D-Duluth, asked Nimmer to make an exception to allow the testimony before the full committee, including Brett Hume, a Savannah insurance agent who wanted to explain how his business is harmed when workers stop paying his policy premiums.
The annual statewide survey of bald eagle nests is at its mid-point but there’s still opportunity for public input.
Jim Ozier of the Department of Natural Resources surveyed eagle nests statewide last month. He checks by air each January to document occupied nesting territories and then again in March to estimate how many chicks have survived. Of 171 nesting territories in 2013, 129 were successful, fledging 193 eaglets.
No figures are available yet for this year, but Ozier said he’s anticipating an increase, possibly to 180 territories. He expects Chatham County to again lead the state in the number of nests. Last year Chatham hosted 26 nesting pairs of bald eagles.
To aid Ozier’s effort, the DNR encourages the public to report eagle nests, by online form at http://www.georgiawildlife.com/node/1322 or by phone, 478-994-1438.
ATLANTA — Legislators from the more than two-dozen districts bordering the Savannah River introduced a resolution in the House Friday urging the U.S. Corps of Engineers to use adaptive-management practices on the river’s lakes.
Such management practices are designed to widen the environmental and economic factors considered in the Corps’ decision making, such as timing water releases.
The Savannah River Caucus met Thursday to coordinate strategy for the current legislative session and talk about the resolution and its other legislation, a boating compact.
The caucus formed last year in conjunction with South Carolina legislators to pursue issues of common concern.
“The metro folks are organized. The South Georgia folks are organized. It’s time we got organized,” said the caucus’ chairman, Rep. Alan Powell, R-Hartwell.
Powell said the leadership of the Corps has become more responsive since a pair of joint meetings with the two states’ caucuses. The resolution is another way to demonstrate the new spirit of cooperation.
The caucus is also sponsoring House Bill 777 which would create a bi-state compact between Georgia and South Carolina over mutual enforcement of boating laws. The agreement would allow residents of one state to return home without immediately paying a fine or posting bond for boating infractions in the other state.
OBAMA SIGNS FARM BILL THAT TRIMS AID
President Barack Obama on Friday signed into law an agriculture spending bill that will spread benefits to farmers in every region of the country, while trimming the food stamp program that inspired a two-year battle over the legislation.
As he penned his name on the five year measure at Michigan State University, Obama said the wide-ranging bill “multitasks” by helping boost jobs, innovation, research and conservation. “It’s like a Swiss Army knife,” he joked.
But not everyone is happy with the legislation and Obama acknowledged its passage was “a very challenging piece of business.”
The bill expands federal crop insurance and ends direct government payments that go to farmers whether they produce anything or not. But the bulk of its nearly $100 billion per year cost is for the food stamp program that aids 1 in 7 Americans.
ATLANTA — Georgia is among six states receiving federal money for its work to improve its lowest-performing schools.
The U.S. Department of Education says Georgia, five other states and the District of Columbia will receive more than $38 million total.
Georgia is receiving the largest share of the money, $16.5 million.
The grants are for efforts to improve schools that persistent perform poorly.
Georgia and the other states can use the money to make competitive grants to school district that show the greatest need for the money and demonstrate a commitment to improve.
As metro Atlanta’s Snowjam melts into the region’s consciousness, Gov. Nathan Deal’s political opponents hope the government’s troubled response to the weather bogs down his march to re-election.
The governor’s backers say the icy gridlock that stalled metro Atlanta will fade from voters’ minds by the sunny May 20 primaries and be a faint memory by November’s elections. But his opponents are painting it as the latest in a series of tone-deaf moves from Georgia’s top leader.
Deal has responded with a vigorous public schedule and a slate of national TV interviews to try to show he’s learned from the mistakes of his lackluster response. The governor’s office plans a series of announcements in the coming weeks on new state emergency procedures designed to show the governor is embracing needed changes.
For Deal, though, the weather is only his latest political headache. Unrest from teachers over his administration’s changes to the state insurance plan and ongoing ethics questions have further muddied Deal’s path to re-election. His two GOP primary opponents and the well-financed campaign of Democrat Jason Carter are ready to pounce.
The governor doesn’t seem overly concerned about how the storm will affect his re-election bid. He expects voters to be swayed more by the 230,000 jobs he says were created under his watch and his mantra of stay-the-course conservatism.
“Sometimes people remember things like that, sometimes they don’t,” Deal said of the weather debacle. “It happened. It’s an event of history now, but it’s recent history.”
Usually, morning devotionals at the General Assembly are given by visiting ministers.
But last week, a Gwinnett senator served as Chaplain of the Day.
“I am honored to step in as Chaplain of the Day to address this distinguished legislative body,” said Sen. Fran Millar, whose Dunwoody district includes Peachtree Corners. “It’s easy for us to get overwhelmed, but we must remember our many blessings and make it a point to thank God every day.”
On Friday Millar spoke to his fellow senators about the importance of counting everyday as a blessing from God and relying upon His word. His message inspired senators to never give up, lose heart or stop trusting God’s plan, a press release said.
Gwinnett’s movers and shakers made merry Friday, at the Gwinnett Chamber of Commerce Annual Dinner, toasting local leaders for contributions to the community.
Former Norcross Mayor Lillian Webb, whose decades of service included becoming the first woman to chair the Gwinnett Board of Commissioners, was honored as the Citizen of the Year, 65 years after she took home a public service award at the Chamber’s first dinner.
“I am so pleased,” said Webb, who pointed to her accomplishments — from the building of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center to the civic center where the festivities were held — to the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax created by the legislature. “Look at what the penny did for all of us.”
This year, some of the state’s highest ranked politicians joined the crowd, including Gov. Nathan Deal, Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle and Congressmen Phil Gingrey and Jack Kingston.
“You are part of what is making Georgia grow,” Deal said to the nearly 1,000 business and civic leaders in attendance at the black-tie-optional affair.
The governor and lieutenant governor talked about the successes that are bringing jobs to the local economy and talked about increasing funding for education, from kindergarten to college, to help drive more economic development.
The message meant a lot on a night meant to celebrate public service, said Chamber President Dan Kaufman.
“It’s nice to know they know and appreciate the leaders we have in Gwinnett,” Kaufman said of the state leaders who joined the dinner at the Gwinnett Center’s ballroom.