Just a few months ago, Buford resident Gary Nichols could sit out on his back deck and enjoy the peace and quiet. That tranquility, he said, abruptly ended when the 28-lane Georgia Gun Club opened nearby.
The 38,000-square-foot facility, located at 1951 Braselton Highway in Buford, opened earlier this year within eyeshot — and earshot — of neighborhoods, churches and two daycare facilities.
Nichols’ home, situated in Wynfield Point subdivision across Braselton Highway from the gun club, is approximately 900 feet, as the crow flies, from the business. Close enough, Nichols said, to hear gunfire while outside or inside their home.
“It’s very frustrating, it’s very annoying,” Gary’s wife Barbara said. “It’s like explosions. You feel like it’s dynamite. It’s just constant explosions … I’m not living in a war zone. I don’t want to live like that.”
DACULA — City leaders voted unanimously Thursday to adopt a new natural gas franchise agreement with the city of Buford. The new agreement, which will stand for 15 years, is the result of recent negotiations between Dacula Mayor Jimmy Wilbanks and Buford Commission Chairman Phillip Beard.
During the June City Council meeting, Dacula council members voted to renew the franchise agreement for another 10 years. Past franchise agreements with Buford had been established for 30-year periods. Dacula’s city leaders this year were reluctant to enter into another 30-year term agreement, but Beard and the Buford City Commission wanted a longer-term arrangement than 10 years.
The agreed franchise fee will be 4 percent.
“You authorized me (in June) to go to the city of Buford to negotiate, and that’s what I did,” Wilbanks said to the council. “This is what we came up with.”
DUBLIN – — The last time top Georgia Democrats gathered for a party meeting, they huddled to replace a disgraced leader and carve a path forward in a Republican-controlled state. Their convention Saturday was a celebration of how far the party has come — and a reminder of the challenges looming in November.
This year’s middle Georgia gathering was designed to promote a full slate of candidates running for statewide office, headlined by two Democrats with name-brand legacies: Michelle Nunn and Jason Carter. Both offered some of their strongest attacks yet on their GOP rivals.
It was a festive event that featured flashy videos, shrieking yellow whistles, blaring music and circus-like glowsticks. The party was eager to roll out its six female candidates — five of whom are black — on the statewide ballot in hopes of drawing a contrast with the white men who make up the GOP slate.
The enthusiasm notwithstanding, Democrats acknowledge the tough sledding ahead. Republicans control every statewide office and commanding majorities in the state Legislature. GOP strategists believe their core supporters can overwhelm Democrats despite growing numbers of minority voters.
Nunn, the daughter of former U.S. Sen. Sam Nunn, has until now waged a largely positive campaign. But her rhetoric has sharpened significantly since Republican businessman David Perdue won the GOP nomination after his runoff victory last month.
She invoked Perdue’s leadership of Pillowtex, the failed North Carolina textile company that left thousands out of work, during her speech Saturday to her party faithful.
“To often, Mr. Perdue seems to have prospered while other people suffered,” she said, adding: “David Perdue’s real world does not include us.”
SUWANEE — Rising property values in Suwanee will mean higher taxes as city officials have proposed the same millage rate — 4.93 — the city has used the last two years.
The rate is higher than the calculated rollback rate of 4.70 mills, but expected to generate the same total revenue as last year.
The proposed 4.93 millage rate will result in a tax increase of about $20.70 for a home with a fair market value of $225,000 and an increase of $50.60 for a nonresidential property with a fair market value of $550,000.
At the Aug. 26 City Council meeting, members are expected to adopt the fiscal year 2015 millage rate.
Tallapoosa, Ga. — One day this December, 42-year-old attorney Meng Lim will pack up his two kids and a freshly pressed black robe.
Sixty miles later, at the state Capitol, Lim will be sworn in as the first Cambodian-American of Chinese extraction ever to sit on a Superior Court bench in Georgia.
The election of a survivor of Cambodian genocide to an open seat in the Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit in west Georgia – a rural, two-county affair where Asian-Americans make up precisely .3 percent of the voting population – is perhaps the most remarkable, yet untold story to come out of last month’s runoff contests.
The Haralson County attorney won 62 percent of the vote in his July 22 runoff against Chuck Morris, a juvenile court judge from neighboring Polk County who had the support – financial and otherwise — of most of the area’s legal community.
Lim built his campaign largely on personal loans and the enthusiasm of a community that took him in as a 9-year-old boy who spoke no English and had never seen the inside of a classroom.
It’s a decision that Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter says keeps him awake at night.
Four years after the indictment of County Commissioner Kevin Kenerly for allegedly taking $1 million in bribes, Porter this week reached a plea agreement with the politician that calls for no prison time and no admission of guilt.
“I’m pretty sure I didn’t do the wrong thing in the Kenerly case, but I’m not sure I did the right thing,” Porter said. “I don’t know whether I allowed my compassion to overcome my basic sense that public officials should be held to a higher standard. I laid awake for a long time thinking about it, and I lay awake still.”
Under the plea agreement approved Tuesday, Kenerly was sentenced to 10 years of probation and will pay a $10,000 fine. He pleaded “no contest” to a bribery charge that stemmed from a 2010 special grand jury investigation of county land deals. As part of the agreement, the prosecutor dropped two misdemeanor charges of failure to disclose a financial interest in properties the county rezoned.
Lawyers for former ethics commission director Stacey Kalberman on Friday asked a judge to sanction her former bosses, her successor and the Office of the Attorney General for failing to turn over texts and emails between Holly LaBerge and top aides to Gov. Nathan Deal.
Attorney Kim Worth said in her motion for sanctions filed in Fulton County Superior Court that the defendants’ failure to turn over such important documents as part of Kalberman’s lawsuit are a “manifest injustice and fraud upon the Court.”
A spokeswoman for Attorney General Sam Olens, who defended LaBerge and the commission against Kalberman’s original lawsuit, said “our attorneys acted professionally and appropriately in turning over every responsive document that our client provided to them.”
LaBerge’s private attorney, Lee Parks, said he had not seen the motion and could not comment.
Amid numerous investigations, Corinthian Colleges, a giant in the for-profit college industry, is likely headed for bankruptcy and closing or selling off its more than 100 campuses, including several in the Metro Atlanta area under its Everest brand.
More than a dozen states and three federal agencies have been looking into whether the company lied about its educational programs, job-placement rates and finances.
Separate federal and multi-state investigations have targeted other companies that operate ITT Tech, Argosy and Brown Mackie, American InterContinental University, Sanford-Brown and Le Cordon Bleu campuses in Georgia.
Throughout it all, the Georgia state agency responsible for regulating for-profit schools has sat on the sidelines.
Rather than join an investigation or open one itself, the Georgia Nonpublic Postsecondary Education Commission gave each of these colleges and several others under investigation its stamp of approval, certifying they met state standards for educational and fiscal soundness.
Perry — Few folks were paying more attention to last month’s Senate runoff than the people of Houston County. The outcome meant that two of their most prominent families, both with enduring legacies in middle Georgia, are squaring off in a nationally watched contest for the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Republican Saxby Chambliss.
The family seats of Democrat Michelle Nunn and Republican David Perdue sit just a few miles from each other in Houston County, and though both live elsewhere, their families have left indelible imprints on the region. Residents here are both tickled and torn that their county is suddenly at the heart of the bitter November race.
From the museum celebrating the accomplishments of Michelle Nunn’s father, former Sen. Sam Nunn, in a stately Perry administration building to the elementary school named after Perdue’s father on the outskirts of Warner Robins, both families have bonds here so deep that many residents are deeply conflicted.
“I’m a mess down here with the ties we have to the Perdues and Nunns,” said Larry Walker, a Perry attorney who was once the Majority Leader of Georgia’s House. “It’s a big county now, a lot bigger when they were growing up. But their ties are still everywhere.”
The Fulton County Board of Commissioners on Wednesday approved a 17 percent property tax increase, defying a cap imposed last year by state legislators and setting up a possible confrontation in court.
By a 4-3 vote, commissioners approved a tax hike that will generate about $50 million for libraries, courts, social services and other programs. It’s the first time Fulton has raised its countywide tax rate since 1991.
“It means the continuation of services for Grady Hospital, for seniors, for youths,” said Chairman John Eaves, who supported the measure.
But critics say Fulton should be able to balance its budget without raising taxes.
“I don’t think we’ve made enough structural changes to our organization,” said Commissioner Liz Hausmann, who voted against the tax increase.