Cherokee County Probate Court is preparing for changes in how residents get a license to carry a firearm when Georgia’s sweeping gun bill, passed by the General Assembly, takes effect this week.
The Safe Carry Protection Act, which becomes law Tuesday, is known for lessening restrictions on where people can take their guns, but it is also causing large changes in how the court gives and renews permits, said Cherokee Probate Court Judge B. Keith Wood.
Essentially, Wood said, the new law opens the option of getting a license up to more people.
“I’m not saying that’s a bad thing,” he said Friday. “I think some of the stuff they did were things that should have been done anyway.”
Among the newly eligible carriers are individuals in the military, or who have been honorably discharged, between the ages of 18 and 20, who previously had to wait until they were 21 to get a license like everyone else.
Early voting begins Monday for the July 22 general primary runoff election, and Cherokee County voters have two local races and several state and federal elections to help decide.
Voter turnout is expected to be light, said Cherokee Elections Supervisor Janet Munda.
“In 2010, we had about a 16 percent turnout. I am hoping we will have that or greater,” she said Friday. Munda said the U.S. Senate runoff between Jack Kingston and David Purdue and the 11th District race for Congress, pitting Barry Loudermilk against Bob Barr, could bring more people out to the polls.
For the first week of early voting, the only location where voters can cast a ballot is the Cherokee Elections office in downtown Canton. Early voting will be Monday through Thursday, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The office will be closed July 4 for the holiday.
Early voting will continue Monday through Friday during the weeks of July 7 and July 14 at the Canton location.
Voting will again be from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. each day.
In 2014, the Georgia Legislature passed House Bill 60 which, in addition to expanding the locations where a firearm could be carried by persons with a Georgia Weapons Carry License, also modified the process for obtaining the license itself.
In order to assist the public, what follows are some highlights of some of the changes in the licensing part of the statute, as well as a listing of the requirements for obtaining a WCL in the Cherokee County Probate Court beginning July 1.
The Legislature did away with requiring fingerprints to be taken on license renewals, which previously existed under O.C.G.A. §16-11-129. However, what actually constitutes a “renewal” was left undefined. After reviewing the current usage of the term, especially in terms of the Temporary Renewal License, along with discussions with Legislators, the Cherokee County Probate Court will consider the renewal period to run from the date the license is issued until 30 days after the license has expired.
Based on an opinion of the attorney general, renewals will also only be available for licenses previously issued by Cherokee County.
Licenses for persons 18 to 20 years old
Before July 1, one had to be 21 years old to receive a WCL. Under the new law, these licenses are also available to persons 18 to 20 years old, but only if the applicant has completed basic training and is either actively serving in the U.S. military or has been honorably discharged from the service.
The board governing two Georgia charter schools approved a 20-year lease that begins Monday for the building now housing Cherokee Charter Academy, with a base rent about 60 percent higher than last year.
Board members on the Georgia Charter Educational Foundation, responsible for governing and funding Cherokee Charter Academy, unanimously approved the 20-year lease agreement during a meeting Wednesday, with a base rent of $1.16 million a year, according to the final lease document.
The rent expense went up 59.9 percent, from $726,000 in fiscal 2014, to $1.16 million for fiscal 2015, and GCEF member and Cherokee Charter Local Governing Councilman Danny Dukes said the rise in rent costs for the building was anticipated.
“The increase was from a below market lease rate to a market lease rate of $12 per foot,” Dukes explained. “This facility was in foreclosure when we moved in. The owner was looking for cash flow out of the property. They have now sold the property, pending a closing, and the new buyer/investor was seeking market rent.”
CANTON — A resident in the Great Sky community has filed a complaint against Councilman Glen Cummins, claiming the councilman’s candidacy for city manager puts him in violation of Canton’s ethics ordinances.
Andy Potts, who said he has about 50 of his neighbors behind him, sent the complaint to Mayor Gene Hobgood on Tuesday. The complaint accuses Cummins of abusing his role as a council member and interim city manager to become the finalist for the city manager job.
“These charges against Mr. Cummins are a clear violation of the most sacred roots of our democracy,” Potts wrote in the complaint, citing city code. “Elected officials should never be allowed to participate in a process, or have direct influence in a process, that allows them to benefit financially and receive taxpayer dollars.”
The Ball Ground City Council plans to roll back the city’s millage rate from 6 to 5.375 mills, or a 4.4 percent reduction, officials said.
The council approved a $1.89 million 2014-15 budget at its last meeting in May, which called for a rolled back millage rate from 6 to 5.625 mills, to remain revenue neutral.
However, Ball Ground City Clerk Karen Jordan said Wednesday City Manager Eric Wilmarth planned to recommend the council set the millage rate at 5.375 mills, “representing a tax decrease of 4.4 percent.”
CANTON — Clashes between a potential independent candidate and residents persist as a former tea party leader attempts to fill up her petition to run against Cherokee Commission Chairman Buzz Ahrens in November.
In recent weeks, residents have complained of harassment and conflicts with Carolyn Cosby, former chair of the Canton T.E.A. Party, and her supporters outside the tax office in Woodstock, said Cherokee Tax Commissioner Sonya Little.
“We’ve had taxpayers wanting to be walked out to their cars,” Little said Thursday, adding she was working to serve the rights of Cosby and residents visiting the tax office. “I really don’t know who’s instigating what, because this is all happening outside. With them being outside and with my camera not having sound, you’re really not going to know the whole story.”
Cosby denies she has been harassing anyone, just as she did when she was asked to leave the Canton Post Office earlier this month after officials advised she and her supporters were breaking federal law by petitioning there.
DeKalb County is the proud owner of a “Comprehensive Market Development Strategy” that notes, in mulitple places, the continuing “stigma of political corruption,” poor county leadership and other problems the county faces.
To prepare the report, the county hired a private contractor, which in turn hired a subcontractor to supply research and background. That subcontractor was Michael Hightower, who knows a thing or two about political corruption, having pleaded guilty to it in 2000 after accepting nearly $25,000 in bribes while serving on the Fulton County Commission.
Visitors along the waterfront are riding the rails once again, now that Savannah’s River Street trolley is back in operation.
The biodiesel powered streetcar “Dottie” resumed offering free rides from one end of River Street to the other on Thursday after extensive repairs to the wheel base were made and subsequent testing confirmed the improvements were satisfactory, said Veleeta McDonald, Savannah’s mobility and parking services director.
The days of bicycling through Forsyth Park could soon come to an end.
City officials are considering banning the practice as the number of people visiting the park increases and concern about endangering pedestrians grows, said city spokesman Bret Bell.
A full ban would be easier to understand than the limited restriction currently in place, which prohibits bicyclists from riding in a section running from the fountain to southern limits of the old fort, Bell said.
“It’s sometimes tricky for bikers to understand,” he said.
Bicycling is also prohibited on the sidewalk surrounding the park.