The blog.

30
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 30, 2017

King Henry VII of England was crowned on October 30, 1485.

King Charles I of England granted a charter for a new colony called Carolana that included much of present-day Georgia, along with the current states of North and South Carolina, on October 30, 1629.

Stephen Douglas of Illinois campaigned in Atlanta for President of the United States on October 30, 1860. Douglas had defeated Abraham Lincoln for United States Senate in 1858, giving rise to the Lincoln-Douglas style of debate.

On October 30, 1871, Republican Benjamin Conley became acting Governor of Georgia after Republican Governor Rufus Bullock resigned; Conley served as President of the state Senate before taking office as Governor.

Conley took the oath of office on Oct. 30, 1871. Two days later, the new General Assembly convened and elected a new Democratic president of the Senate, but Conley refused to give up the office. The General Assembly then passed a law over Conley’s veto to hold a special election for governor on the third Tuesday in December. In that election, Democratic House speaker James M. Smith defeated Conley and assumed office Jan. 12, 1872.

On October 30, 1938, a science fiction drama called War of the Worlds was broadcast nationwide in the form of a series of simulated radio broadcasts.

Jackie Robinson signed with the Brooklyn Dodgers on October 30, 1945, becoming the first African-American professional baseball player in the major leagues.

On October 30, 1970, a fastball from Nolan Ryan was timed at 100.9 miles per hour, putting him in the record books. On the same day, Jim Morrison of the Doors was sentenced to six months in prison and a $500 fine for allegedly exposing himself during a Miami concert. Morrision died before the case was heard on appeal.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal appointed former state Senator JaNice Van Ness to the Department of Family and Childrens’ Service Board.

Van Ness is the founder and CEO of Peachtree Academy. She is a former member of the Georgia State Senate and served on the Education and Youth, Economic Development and Tourism, Health and Human Services, State Institutions and Property and MARTOC committees. Van Ness is a graduate of the Regional Leadership Institute and previously sat on the board of directors for the United Way of Greater Atlanta. She earned an associate degree from Oxford College of Emory University and a bachelor’s degree in Political Science and International Relations from Auburn University. She and her husband, Ken, have three children and reside in Conyers.

Gov. Deal also presented Midway-based Elan Technology with the Georgia Innovator of the Year award at the second annual Georgia Automotive Awards.

“Elan has helped develop and evaluate glasses for the next generation of oxygen sensors in automobiles. This improvement increased engine response time when transferring needed information to the emissions control system, allowing engines to effectively react and reduce emissions,” the nomination read.

Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson credits Elan and the other honorees for playing a large role in attracting multi-million dollar investments to the state from around the world.

“Georgia has become a global hub for many industries, and the continued growth from one of our most important sectors, automotive, shows no sign of slowing down,” Wilson said.

“While Georgia has worked hard to cultivate the nation’s top business environment and provide the resources and workforce this industry needs to thrive, it would be nothing without the commitment from automotive companies and their many suppliers who continue to discover the unrelenting benefits of doing business in Georgia.”

Speaking of Georgia’s growing automotive industry, my favorite story of the week comes from LaShaunda Jordan with The Valdosta Daily Times. Ms. Jordan’s story tells how Georgia’s Technical Colleges helped attract manufacturing jobs with programs to train welders and electricians. It features a young family whose lives were improved through technical/voacational training, a Florida company that decided to re-locate in Georgia, and custom high-performance Ford Mustangs. In many ways, it’s the story of how Georgia focused on developing manufacturing and is a success story on all counts. Click here to read it. You won’t be sorry.

The Georgia Senate Health Care Reform Task Force meets this morning in Rome to discuss primary and prevantative care and mental health.

“The other areas of focus are on mental health and integrating mental health care in with primary care,” said Sen. Chuck Hufstetler.

Hufstetler is one of the seven state senators appointed by Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle to come up with a sustainable model for the state’s system in light of changes at the federal level. They’ve been meeting around the state since this summer and a final report is expected before the end of the year.

“We believe that the biggest savings and the most improvement in health will be focusing on preventative health care — instead of treating symptoms and disease after the fact — and we’ll be hearing about innovative ways to do that,” Hufstetler said.

The session starts at 10 a.m. in the Spruill Ballroom of the Krannert Center at the college off Martha Berry Highway. It’s slated to last into the afternoon and is open to the public.

Hufstetler said the task force also hopes to hear of viable ways to address opioid abuse and addiction with monitoring and treatment.

Funding, he said, is key.

“We’ll also be proposing waivers with the federal government to help bring better mental health, drug treatment and preventative care treatment to the uninsured and under-insured population of Georgia,” Hufstetler said.

Piedmont Healthcare will partner with Columbus Regional Health.

The deal, announced Thursday, would bring Atlanta-based Piedmont’s hospital total to 10. Columbus Regional Health operates two hospitals in the city: Midtown Medical and Northside Medical.

The announcement comes just a month after Piedmont finalized its acquisition of Rockdale Medical Center, about 25 miles east of Atlanta. That hospital — in Conyers, the seat of Rockdale County — was purchased from LifePoint Health.

Senator Renee Unterman (R-Buford) says a shortage of addiction treatment programs is part of Georgia’s opioid crisis.

To fight the opioid crisis in Georgia, the state must consider bringing in federal dollars by expanding Medicaid under the Affordable Care Act, according to State Sen. Renee Unterman.

She said the growing number of drug addicts in Georgia need help.

“Right now, if you’re a young man and you are 18 to 35 years old and you’ve already run your family off, you have no money, you have no job and you’re addicted, there’s absolutely no place to go for addiction services,” she said.

In Georgia, Sen. Unterman said she will make the opioid crisis a priority as part of her legislative agenda when lawmakers meet again in January. She said flexibility with Medicaid expansion dollars is what she is hoping for from Congress.

Sen. Unterman and Lt. Governor Casey Cagle addressed President Trump’s declaration of a national public health emergency for the opiod abuse crisis.

On Friday, State Sen. Renee Unterman, R-Buford, and Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle pledged to support President Donald Trump’s declaration that the opioid epidemic is a nationwide public health emergency.

The opioid issue is one that Unterman in particular has been highlighting and targeting in recent months with local and state criminal justice and law enforcement officials, including Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Kathryn Schrader. They have held summits and press conference to bring attention the issue.

Now comes Trump’s declaration, which means his administration will mobilize resources to address the issue. Unterman, who is the Senate’s Health and Human Services Committee chairwoman, and Cagle pledged to take legislative steps in 2018 to supports that effort in Georgia.

“Throughout this year, I have worked closely with Lt. Governor Cagle to develop a comprehensive set of solutions that will allow our state to jump to the forefront of taking on addiction, the opioid crisis, and strengthening behavioral health services,” Unterman said.

“In the coming weeks, we will come forward with legislation ready on day 1 in January to continue our fight against this epidemic.”

David Shafer’s kickoff for his Lieutenant Governor campaign was a smashing success.

State Senate President Pro Tempore David Shafer’s campaign said about 550 people attended the official kickoff for his bid to be Georgia’s next leiutenant governor at the Atlanta Colliseum in Duluth last weekend.

The campaign said Snellville-based former state Rep. Melvin Everson gave the invocation while Rock 100.5 FM’s “Southside” Steve Rickman emceed the event. County commissioner Jace Brooks, state Sen. P.K. Martin, R-Lawrenceville, state Rep. Scott Hilton, R-Peachtree Corners and Public Service Commissioners Stan Wise, Bubba McDonald and Chuck Eaton were among the attendees, according to the campaign.

Attorney Matt Reeves, who is running as a Republican to replace Shafer in the state Senate, also spoke at the event.

Smyrna is the promised land for the Lobbyist-Industrial Complex.

If you live in Smyrna, you have three lobbyists representing you as council members on the City Council.

Council members Derek Norton, Ron Fennel and Doug Stoner are registered as lobbyists with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, formerly the State Ethics Commission. Travis Lindley, a candidate for the city’s open Ward 3 seat is registered as well.

Though no other Cobb cities have a registered lobbyist currently serving on city council, other nearby municipalities do. Sandy Springs Mayor Rusty Paul is a lobbyist, as is Councilman Brandon Hembree of Sugar Hill.

Fennel and Stoner did not respond to interview requests, but Norton and Lindley both said their careers will not get in the way of doing their jobs as council members.

Early voting in Coweta County continues this week.

All Cowetans get to decide on whether or not to extend the 1 percent SPLOST, which goes to fund various capital projects, from roads to buildings to parks and patrol vehicles, in the county and its cities. The current SPLOST expires Dec. 31, 2018.

There are also city elections in Grantville, Senoia, Sharpsburg and Turin. There are city elections in Palmetto and Chattahoochee Hills as well, though those are not handled through Coweta’s elections office.

The Georgia Department of Community Health continues to monitor federal legislation for an extension of the Children’s Health Insurance Program and Georgia’s Peach Care.

The federal funding was provided through fiscal year 2017, which expired Sept. 30.

The Georgia Department of Community Health said this week it is “closely monitoring the program budget to determine when and what action the state will need to take.”

“DCH remains optimistic that Congress will reauthorize the program prior to any detrimental impacts to Georgians,” press secretary Fiona Roberts said.

Georgia and other states still have some money left over from previous years that can be used until a federal plan is potentially reached. According to the Medicaid and CHIP Payment and Access Commission, Georgia had $147.1 million unspent that would be available in fiscal year 2018 and was projected to receive another $56.6 million after funds were redistributed.

The commission estimated Georgia would exhaust its funding in April.

DCH said more than 131,000 children were covered by the program in fiscal year 2017.

“I just cannot fathom Congress not covering the children’s health care program. Moving them all into Medicaid just creates more hardship for each state,” said state Rep. Lee Hawkins, R-Gainesville.

Rep. Doug Collins said the House bill would extend the CHIP program for five years.

“I’m pleased that the legislation put forward by House Republicans charts a more cost effective — and therefore sustainable — path forward for serving some of Georgia’s most vulnerable populations,” Collins said in a statement.

Latino voters may flex their muscles in Gainesville city elections.

The race for the Gainesville City Council Ward 4 seat again looms as a litmus test for the strength of Latino voters in a city where they are 41.3 percent of the population.

Adding interest to the outcome is the participation of Maria Del Rosario Palacios, who is hoping to become the first Hispanic elected to Gainesville City Council. She’s banking on succeeding where other Hispanics before her have failed by turning out the Latino vote in large enough numbers to upend incumbent George Wangemann, who has been on City Council for 30 years.

Businessman and former downtown Gainesville restaurateur Albert Reeves is also contesting the seat.

Wangemann is taking nothing for granted. Last week, he visited a stretch of Atlanta Highway where more than 90 percent of the businesses are owned by Latinos.

“If you look at the Gainesville school system, I think 65 to 70 percent of the students are Hispanics,” Wangemann said. “Years ago, the Hispanics were not what I would call a significant force like they are today. It’s different today, so you do have to get to know the people, and you have to work with them and be out there in their parts of the community.”

Interstate 75 construction near Macon may have unearthed Georgia’s first brewery.

There on a steep embankment between a blighted cemetery and Interstate 75, a deep, dark hole leads to a cave that is the site of what was likely Georgia’s first brewery.

The nearly 200-year-old beer cave is no secret to longtime residents in Macon’s Pleasant Hill neighborhood.

However, it was an unexpected discovery for Georgia Department of Transportation contract workers, which first saw it in September as they were cutting back trees to widen the interstate.

Back in the late 1830s, the 50 feet deep cave was used to age ale and German lagers crafted by Russell & Peters’ Brewery.

Immigrants Jacob Russell, of Bavaria, and Julius Peters, of Germany, started brewing beer, distilling liquor and fermenting wine before the Civil War and continued during it, according to a 1938 Telegraph article.

The Gordon County Chamber of Commerce Governmental Affairs Committee hosted a forum for local candidates.

Only five candidates fielded questions from moderator Jesse Vaughn, of Vaughn & Clements, LLC. The candidates who participated in the forum include: Calhoun City Council Post 3 incumbent councilman Matt Barton and challenger George Crowley; Calhoun City Council Post 4 candidates Ed Moyer and Alvin Long (candidate Ray Denmon did not participate); and Town of Resaca Council Post 3 candidate Randy Barron (candidates Mitch Reed and Michael Austin did not participate.

27
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 27, 2017

Taz

Taz is a young male Labrador Retriever puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Taz is a happy little 4 month old pup that somehow ended up in a shelter. He has been a very good puppy. Housetrained and crate trained, but he’s young and will need a home where someone is there a lot and has time to spend teaching him how to be a good citizen.

Riley

Riley is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Southern Animal Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Riley is an adorable 4 month old puppy looking for her forever home! She currently lives with cats and children and does great with everyone. She also loves other dogs. We think she will be a medium to large size dog when full grown. If you’re looking for a new best friend then adopt her!

Pearlapotamus

Pearlapotamus is a female Staffordshire Bull Terrier & Dutch Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Laskey’s Lucky Ones & Volunteers (LLOV) East Point, GA.

Pearl is madly in love with everyone she meets and she greets everyone with kisses and tail wags. She loves being active then settling in for long cuddle sessions on the couch. Pearl is loving finding out what a dog’s life is really supposed to be about!

27
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 27, 2017

Christopher Columbus “discovered” Cuba on October 28, 1492.

Sir Walter Raleigh, founder of the first permanent English settlement in America, was beheaded on October 29, 1618 for conspiring against King James I.

Georgia’s first Royal Governor, John Reynolds, arrived at Savannah on October 29, 1754.

On October 27, 1775, King George III addressed Parliament, raising concerns about an American rebellion.

John Hancock resigned as President of the Continental Congress on October 29, 1777.

The First of the Federalist Papers, an essay by Alexander Hamilton published under the pseudonym Publius, was published on October 27, 1787.

The United States and Spain signed the Treaty of San Lorenzo, also called Pinckney’s Treaty on October 27, 1795, setting the 31st parallel as the border between Georgia and Florida.

The nation’s first Gold Rush started after Benjamin Parks discovered gold in what is now Lumpkin County, Georgia on October 27, 1828.

Theodore Roosevelt was born in New York City on October 27, 1858.

The Battle of Wauhatchie, one of a handful of night battles in the Civil War, began along the Georgia-Tennessee border on October 28, 1863.

The Statue of Liberty was dedicated on October 28, 1886; the first ticker tape parade followed.

President Woodrow Wilson vetoed the Volstead Act, which implemented the Eighteenth Amendment prohibition on alcohol, on October 27, 1919; the House overrode his veto that same day and the United States Senate overrode the veto on October 28, 1919.

Navy Day was established on October 27, 1922.

October 27 was suggested by the Navy League to recognize Theodore Roosevelt’s birthday. Roosevelt had been an Assistant Secretary of the Navy and supported a strong Navy as well as the idea of Navy Day. In addition, October 27 was the anniversary of a 1775 report issued by a special committee of the Continental Congress favoring the purchase of merchant ships as the foundation of an American Navy.

The New York Stock Exchange crashed on October 29, 1929, beginning the spiral to the Great Depression.

The first ballpoint pen went on sale at Gimbel’s Department Store on October 29, 1945.

The Cuban Missile Crisis ended on October 28, 1962 as Kruschev agreed to remove Soviet missiles from Cuba if the United States would respect Cuban sovereignty.

Ronald Reagan delivered the “A Time for Choosing” speech on October 27, 1964.

And this idea that government is beholden to the people, that it has no other source of power except the sovereign people, is still the newest and the most unique idea in all the long history of man’s relation to man.

This is the issue of this election: Whether we believe in our capacity for self-government or whether we abandon the American revolution and confess that a little intellectual elite in a far-distant capitol can plan our lives for us better than we can plan them ourselves.

You and I are told increasingly we have to choose between a left or right. Well I’d like to suggest there is no such thing as a left or right. There’s only an up or down—[up] man’s old—old-aged dream, the ultimate in individual freedom consistent with law and order, or down to the ant heap of totalitarianism. And regardless of their sincerity, their humanitarian motives, those who would trade our freedom for security have embarked on this downward course.

You and I have a rendezvous with destiny.

We’ll preserve for our children this, the last best hope of man on earth, or we’ll sentence them to take the last step into a thousand years of darkness.

Duane Allman died in a motorcycle accident in Macon, Georgia on October 29, 1971.

Jimmy Carter campaigned in New York on October 27, 1976.

Gladys Knight and the Pips reached #1 with “Midnight Train to Georgia” on October 27, 1973.

Democratic President Jimmy Carter debated Republican Ronald Reagan in Cleveland, Ohio on October 28, 1980.

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Andrew Young was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 27, 1981.

The Atlanta Braves beat the Cleveland Indians 1-0 to win the World Series on October 28, 1995.

On October 29, 1998, at 77 years of age, John Glenn became the oldest human to travel in space, on the shuttle Discovery.

Chick-fil-A founder S. Truett Cathy accepted the last Ford Taurus built in Hapeville, Georgia on October 27, 2006.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University wiped a server connected to an elections lawsuit.

The server’s data was destroyed July 7 by technicians at the Center for Elections Systems at Kennesaw State University, which runs the state’s election system. The data wipe was revealed in an email sent last week from an assistant state attorney general to plaintiffs in the case that was later obtained by the AP. More emails obtained in a public records request confirmed the wipe.

It’s not clear who ordered the server’s data irretrievably erased.

The Kennesaw election center answers to Georgia’s secretary of state, Brian Kemp, a Republican running for governor in 2018 and the suit’s main defendant. His spokeswoman issued a statement Thursday saying his office had neither involvement nor advanced warning of the decision. It blamed “the undeniable ineptitude” at the Kennesaw State elections center.

It could still be possible to recover relevant information from the server.

The FBI is known to have made an exact data image of the server in March when it investigated the security hole. The Oct. 18 email disclosing the server wipe said the state attorney general’s office was “reaching out to the FBI to determine whether they still have the image” and also disclosed that two backup servers were wiped clean Aug. 9, just as the lawsuit moved to federal court.

On Wednesday, the attorney general’s office notified the court of its intent to subpoena the FBI seeking the image.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp has launched an investigation of the data destruction.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp said Thursday that his office is launching an investigation after data was quietly destroyed on a computer server shortly after a lawsuit was filed seeking to force the state to overhaul its election technology.

The KSU center’s system will be used in the upcoming elections.

KSU represenattives late Thursday issued a statement explaining that the server, which had been examined by the FBI, was wiped so it could be repurposed. School spokeswoman Tammy DeMel said in the statement the FBI made a copy of all of the data on the server before informing KSU it had not been compromised and returning the technology.

“The data and information that was on the server in question has been and is still in the possession of the FBI and will remain available to the parties in the event it is determined to be relevant in the pending litigation,” DeMel said.

In a lengthy statement, Kemp said his office had no involvement in the decision to wipe the server, nor was it notified in advance.

“We will not stand for this kind of inexcusable conduct or gross incompetence,” said Kemp, whose office oversees Georgia’s elections. “Those responsible at KSU should be held accountable for their actions. The Secretary of State’s Office is also coordinating with FBI officials to get our own copy of the data that was erased at KSU.”

Kemp, who is running for governor, said his office stands by the results of previous elections. “Despite the undeniable ineptitude at KSU’s Center for Elections Systems,” he added, “Georgia’s elections are safe and our systems remain secure.”

Republican State House candidate Houston Gaines has come under fire from Democrats.

The sole Republican running for a conservative-leaning Athens-based House district is facing criticism from Democrats for comments he made to a reporter who pressed him on his perspective in the race.

“It’s obvious by just looking at us that we have a different perspective,” Houston Gaines told the Flagpole reporter.

Gaines, a white former University of Georgia student body president, faces Democratic attorney Deborah Gonzalez, who is Hispanic, in the Nov. 7 race.

Michael Smith of the Democratic Party of Georgia called his remarks “disgraceful and disqualifying” and compared it to “racist filth.” He added: “Character counts, and Houston Gaines is found wanting.”

Gaines spokesman Brian Robinson said the candidate was referring to himself as “the voice of a new generation of leaders” He called it “just one more ridiculous and inane example of Democrats resorting to identity politics.”

Two Bibb County deputies resigned after being caught using the website Backpage.

The sheriff’s office began investigating in May after the FBI reported finding that one of the deputy’s personal cellphone numbers was among contacts in a sex trafficking victim’s phone, according to an investigative file The Telegraph obtained Thursday.

According to a nearly 50-page internal investigation file, the victim told the FBI that Cranford had contacted her “in reference to her Backpage ad stating he was ‘a man in uniform,’ and that ‘if she let him come on a date, he would not tell anyone and would protect her going forward.’ ”

The site’s adult section has been a clearinghouse for prostitutes and customers seeking their services.

Columbus Council approved a resolution asking the General Assembly to support legislation to allow casino gambling.

The resolution came after a request by Columbus businessman, civic leader and philanthropist Bob Wright, who last year raised the possibility of a casino as a possible economic, entertainment and tourism draw for Columbus, south Columbus in particular.

Mike Baker, who also cast a “nay” vote (as did Councilor Glenn Davis), said he doesn’t have a problem with citizens voting on it, but “I’d like to know what we’re calling for … I really don’t have that much information as far as an actual draft.”

Mayor Pro Tem Evelyn Turner-Pugh said council is simply asking that “if, indeed, there is a constitutional amendment, that citizens be allowed to vote for it or against it, and that we be included.” That proposed amendment, she said, may be different from the previous ones, and “may include Columbus and some other cities.”

The Valdosta Board of Education is considering leasing land for a solar installation.

Radiance Solar has discussed utilizing unused property owned by Valdosta City Schools to host solar arrays. Radiance Solar would pay to lease the land from VCS and would sell the energy its solar arrays generate to Georgia Power as part of the Renewable Energy Development Initiative program.

Previously, Radiance Solar proposed $50,000 a year to lease the land at the VCS Transportation Center for a 2.4-megawatt solar array.

However, upon inspection of the property’s power bills provided by VCS and abiding by the program’s cap for electricity, the size of the solar array was limited to a smaller 1.5-megawatt array for $30,000 a year during a 25-year lease.

The Snellville Police Department will host a National Drug Take Back Day event on Saturday.

The United States Senate Judiciary Committee approved the nomination by President Trump of Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Tillman “Tripp” Self to a United States District Court judgeship, sending it to the floor of the Senate.

Self’s nomination was approved in a block vote along with four other judicial nominees from Texas and South Carolina.

Last week, the Judiciary Committee forwarded the names of two nominees for the Northern District of Georgia to the Senate floor, where they await a final vote. Alston & Bird partner Michael Brown was approved in a voice vote, but the panel split along party lines in a roll call vote on Georgia Court of Appeals Judge William Ray.

Self, who also served a decade as a Macon Judicial Circuit Superior Court judge, marks the third generation of judges in his family. Both his grandfather, for whom he is named, and his uncle served as county probate judges. Gov. Nathan Deal named Self to the state appellate court last year.

Self appeared before the committee Oct. 4 where he was introduced by Georgia’s two senators, including David Perdue. In his introduction, Sen. Johnny Isakson said Tripp was “not just a man who can call balls and strikes or officiate in a courtroom, he’s also a Southern Conference [football] official and did the national championship game in 2017.”

Albany has seen low turnout in early voting for a city commission seat.

Currently, there is a highly competitive race going on for a city commission seat in Albany, but so far, only 30 people have cast a ballot in nine days of early voting.

By late Thursday afternoon, only two voters had cast a ballot that day.

There are five people running for the Ward 2 seat, the only race on the ballot.

There are 6,000 registered voters.

Metro Atlanta governments are increasingly putting transit issues on their ballots, according to the AJC.

Fulton and Gwinnett County officials are finishing transit studies with an eye toward seeking voter approval of expansion plans next November. Cobb County also has begun a study that could lead to a future transit vote. MARTA is researching its options for an expansion along I-20 in DeKalb County.

Already, Atlanta and Clayton County have approved new sales taxes to pay for transit expansions. If voters in other counties follow suit, metro Atlanta could soon see the biggest transit building boom since construction on the MARTA system began more than 40 years ago.

“I think voters in this region are ready to embrace transit in a very big way,” said Dave Williams, a vice president at the Metro Atlanta Chamber. “So many signs point toward some good things happening.”

Georgia Ports Authority posted record numbers for FY 2017 and the first quarter of FY2018.

In July, Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch reported a record Fiscal 2017 to his board – 3.8 million containers and $373 million in revenues for the period ending June 30.

Lynch [reported] last week that the Port of Savannah moved more than 1 million TEUs across Garden City Terminal in the first quarter of FY2018, which ended Sept. 30.

“Sustained organic growth coupled with increased market share are driving these volume increases,” Lynch said. “We’ve also achieved major gains through the addition of Neo-Panamax vessels to the fleet serving Garden City Terminal.”

Not only is Garden City Terminal the fastest growing major port in the Western Hemisphere, as of the end of June, it’s the third fastest-growing container terminal in the world behind only the ports of Ningbo and Guangzhou in China.

Today, Garden City Terminal hosts 36 weekly vessel calls, more than any other container terminal on the East Coast.

“Smart investments that will double our rail lift capacity at Garden City, build inland terminals around the state, and put 36 cranes on one dock – coupled with the deepening of the harbor – will position Savannah to take on a new era of business expansion,” Allgood said.

26
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 26, 2017

BaileyARF

Bailey is a young female Beagle mix who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Hi! I’m Bailey. I am a Beagle mix. The people at the shelter call me a Turbo Beagle! I have a cute curly tail! I love people! Come and get me.

AugustARF

August is a young female low-rider dog (maybe a Dachshund mix?) who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

August is a sweet dachshund (maybe) mix. She is not great with young children at first but is pretty laid back with everyone else. Please come give this sweet dog a home.

StarARF

Star is a female Pointer mix puppy who is available for adoption from Animal Rescue Foundation Inc in Milledgeville, GA.

Star is a sweet pointer mix puppy who loves to play and loves everyone. She is a real sweetheart. Come get her so she won’t grow up in the shelter.

26
Oct

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

Colonists in Georgia signed a letter allowing the beginning of the slave trade in Georgia on October 26, 1749.

Georgia Sons of Liberty protested against the British Stamp Act on October 26, 1765.

A state Constitutional Convention at Milledgeville, Georgia repealed the state’s Ordinance of Secession on October 26, 1865.

President George W. Bush signed the Patriot Act on October 26, 2001.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Best Halloween Costume of the Year.Continue Reading..

25
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 25, 2017

JasperPCAR

Jasper is a young male Labrador Retriever & Hound mix who is available for adoption from Peach County Animal Rescue in Fort Valley, GA.

Jasper is an amazingly level headed boy who is always, always happy. He gets along with everyone two legged and four. He would be the perfect family dog that gets to play outside and steal the couch at his leisure. He loves to play with tennis balls and has quite a few friends at the rescue. He is fully crate trained and rides very well in the car. He is even tempered almost to a fault.

Roc

Roc is a year-old male Labrador Retriever & Dalmatian mix who is available for adoption from Peach County Animal Rescue in Fort Valley, GA.

Roc is TOTAL LOVEBUG. He would make a wonderful companion to any family dynamic, as a solo or as a part of a pack of pups. His absolute favorite thing is making new friends at the rescue – human or canine. His former owner claimed he was a Lab/Dalmatian mix, but honestly…we have no idea. :) While he is still a youngin’ it’s interesting to note that Roc does not have the kind of almost psychotic puppy energy we usually see in kids his age. He’s actually very even tempered and polite! He is a very intelligent boy that learns quickly. He does fine in a crate and travels well.

DinoPCAR

Dino is a 4-year old male Boxer and Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Peach County Animal Rescue in Fort Valley, GA.

Dino is a precious boy. He is a truly gentle soul that is as laid back and easy going as they come. He would make a wonderful companion for anyone looking for a new best friend! He gets along very well with all the other dogs he has met at the rescue. He is an equalizer – he evens out any bad feelings that may be in the room when he enters. Dino would require a well fenced back yard as he has been known to jump a fence in his time, though he is not one to constantly look for an exit. His Plott hound ancestry lends him chocolatey swirls that make him look like he walked through an inkwell; he’s a gorgeous boy that would do anyone proud to have him as a new family member!

The City of Warner Robins euthanized 61 dogs and cats in a single day last week.

Warner Robins police issued Monday a news release about the euthanization of 22 dogs and 39 cats in a single day last week.

The strays were put down Friday.

“Unfortunately, euthanasia is a needed weekly practice at our facility in order to keep up with the intake of stray animals,” the release said. “However, at the time of the euthanasia on Friday … it had been almost two weeks since the last time animals were euthanized.”

Of 2,494 animals at Warner Robins Control last year, 408 were reclaimed by their owners, 342 were taken by rescue groups and 276 were adopted, the release said.

From WMAZ:

Five of those were dogs were infected with what they called “kennel cough.” Another 10 were vicious animals that could not be adopted.

That leaves around 1,470 that were euthanized last year — around 28 a week.

For comparison, in FY 2015, the last year for which figures are publicly available, Gwinnett County Animal Control took in 5,301 animal and euthanized 771. That’s more than twice as many animals taken in, and a little more than half-as many euthanizations.

25
Oct

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

On October 25, 1774, the First Continental Congress addressed a petition to King George III raising concerns about the Coercive Acts passed by Parliament and asserting its loyalty to the monarch.

The wooden keel of USS Monitor was laid at Continental Iron Works at Greenpoint, New York on October 25, 1861.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Nathan Deal will deliver the keynote address at a legislative luncheon in Valdosta on December 6th.

The partnership of the Valdosta-Lowndes County Chamber of Commerce, Rotary Club of Valdosta, Valdosta North Rotary Club, Home Builders Association of South Georgia and Valdosta Board of Realtors host the annual state legislative lunch, Dec. 6, at the James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

“It’s really significant that Gov. Deal has chosen to come to Valdosta as we make preparations for the final legislative session of his governorship,” state Sen. Ellis Black said. “His presence here shows his concern for South Georgia and his commitment to rural Georgia as the agenda for the next legislation is developed.”

During his gubernatorial campaign, Deal listed as his four top priorities: public safety, education, transportation infrastructure improvements and finding a solution to the controversial issue of health care.

“Our chamber very much appreciates Gov. Deal coming to Valdosta to inform us of the activities and opportunities that the State of Georgia leaders are focusing on and supporting,” Chamber Chairman James McGahee said. “We want him to see what Valdosta is doing to attract new business and to grow existing business. We will have the opportunity to show the governor some of the areas we need the state’s support.”

Georgia Public Service Commission Chair Stan Wise (R-Cobb) wrote Governor Deal that he will resign before his term ends, giving the Governor an appointment to the five-member board.

In a letter to Deal on Oct. 17, Wise wrote: “My announcement was silent on whether I intend to serve out my current term. After careful thought, I have decided that early next year, I will resign, creating a vacancy mid-term.”

Wise told the governor he has “unfinished business” at the PSC. He said the commission has a “critical vote” in February as part of the body’s determination whether to continue or cancel the Plant Vogtle project.

“As an unabashed supporter of nuclear power,” Wise wrote, “I intend to be present for that vote and will resign shortly thereafter so that you may appoint my successor prior to the (candidate) qualifying period for the 2018 elections.”

Among the names being floated for Wise’s seat, which covers a stretch of territory west of metro Atlanta, are Republican activists Tricia Pridemore and Justin Tomczak. Political insiders have also said some Georgia state senators are looking at the race.

The skids are greased for a successor.

The DeKalb County Commission voted 6-1 to seek a legal way to remove an obelisk on the old courthouse grounds.

The resolution, approved on an 6-1 vote, orders the county’s attorneys to find a legal way to remove or relocate the 30-foot obelisk located outside the former county courthouse in Decatur.

State law prohibits such monuments from being “relocated, removed, concealed, obscured, or altered in any fashion,” but governments are allowed to take action to preserve or protect monuments. The resolution notes that the monument has been recently vandalized twice.

The county government will try to determine if it actually owns the monument, then explore how it can be moved.

The monument glorifies the Confederacy and says its soldiers “were of a covenant keeping race,” according to the resolution.

DeKalb Commissioner Nancy Jester cast the only vote against the resolution. She said monuments should be put in their historical context instead of being moved.

The Georgia Conservancy and other environmental groups are seeking more funds for parks and greenspace.

A coalition of environmental groups is pushing for the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Act to land on state ballots in 2018. It would shift 75 percent of the existing sales tax on outdoor recreation equipment to a conservation fund to purchase new parkland and improve existing greenspace.

The measure, House Bill 332, didn’t gain much traction during this year’s legislative session, but supporters hope to win over some high-profile allies. Robert Ramsay of the Georgia Conservancy met with Deal chief of staff Chris Riley on Tuesday to pitch the idea.

“It’s not a red or blue issue,” Ramsay said. “This would give the state new advantages because you’d have the ability to plan long-term to acquire this land. This would be a real game-changer.”

The governor, who is approaching his final legislative session in office, said through a spokeswoman he is “receptive” to the idea.

It would need two-thirds support in the Legislature and approval by a majority of voters to get baked into Georgia’s law. Ramsay said the new funding would finance land acquisitions, new roads and improvements for existing parks and matching funds for regional and local greenspace initiatives.

Gwinnett County Commissioners approved 4 percent pay raises for county law enforcement workers.

Gwinnett County commissioners voted to give 4 percent raises to sworn police officers, sheriff’s deputies, corrections officers and E-911 communications officers. That is on top of a 3 percent market adjustment for eligible employees that was approved by commissioners.

“County employees went without a pay raise for four years during the recession,” County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said in a statement after the meeting. “While this board was able to reinstate increases starting in 2014 with a market adjustment and each year thereafter with annual raises tied to performance, a further adjustment is needed to address hiring and retention issues.

“Our competitors are granting pay increases, too, and frankly we have to keep up or risk losing talented employees to other agencies.”

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem David Shafer (R-Duluth) won the Gwinnett County GOP straw poll for Lt. Governor with 56 percent of votes cast.

Alcohol sales is the hot issue in the upcoming Clermont municipal elections.

The town of about 1,000 residents with deep-rooted conservative values has resisted pressure in recent years from a few business owners who have been clamoring for Clermont to lift its ban on alcohol sales. They claim they can’t compete with other businesses that are able to sell alcohol throughout most of Hall County.

Fielding questions related to the controversial issue were incumbent Mayor James Nix and his challenger Steve Reeves; and Ward 4 council rivals Donna Reeves and James Castleberry Jr. Sharing the stage with them was Marcia Kesler, a former Clermont council member who is running uncontested for the Ward 3 seat.

“This is the hot topic,” Donna Reeves, who is married to Steve Reeves, said when asked about alcohol sales right off the bat. She said the same issue cropped up in Gainesville where she owns a restaurant along with a massage therapy establishment.

Donna Reeves and her husband said they were glad to see that the issue is being placed on the Nov. 7 ballot by way of a straw poll.

Everyone except Castleberry was OK with letting the residents decide the matter in the straw poll.

“My whole issue about beer and wine sales in Clermont has to do with the quality of life in Clermont,” Castleberry said. “This is where I live, this is where I hope my children and my grandchildren will live someday and I hope the generations after us will have a nice town to live in.”

Thunderbolt may lose its library branch, planned to close this week.

Last week, during a forum at Thunderbolt Town Hall, each candidate for mayor and Town Council vowed to fight for the library’s survival, with several of the candidates saying they would entertain opening a town-run library if other options are exhausted. Still, staff answering the phone at the library Tuesday said it will close this week. Plans are to relocate staff and reading material to Islands Library, about 2.8 miles away on Johnny Mercer Boulevard.

On Sept. 26, the Live Oak Public Libraries Regional Board, acting on recommendations from interim executive director Stephen Whigham, voted to close the branch out of concern the library system did not have the money to maintain the facility.

The town of Thunderbolt owns the property, something Live Oak’s legal counsel said during the board meeting meant the town was responsible for maintenance. In his report to the board, Whigham said the building was in need of an estimated $100,000-$200,000 in repairs, and that operating costs are roughly $147,000 each year.

“It’s the primary responsibility of the Board of Library Trustees to be conscientious of how our funding is spent throughout the library system,” board chair Charlotte Welch said in a prepared statement. “Our largest funding agent is Chatham County and its taxpayers, and we must make difficult decisions in order to best serve the community.”

Columbus police are targeting distracted driving for enforcement, according to The Ledger-Enquirer.

Police issued more than 102 citations Oct. 18 in three hours of patrolling between North Lumpkin and South Lumpkin roads. Of that, 29 were for distracted driving, which includes texting or manipulating a cellphone.

It was the third such operation since June 1.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is successfully raising money for his reelection campaign, according to the Brunswick News.

As the 2018 election cycle crests the horizon, the Pooler Republican is in an even more-secure position ahead of a contested general election effort in what is known as a safe Republican seat.

Carter raised more than $210,000 during the third quarter of 2017, besting his 2015 numbers by more than $32,000.

And despite spending slightly more during this cycle, the two years in-between were good for the Carter campaign coffers — he shows more than $793,000 on hand, besting the mark of more than $393,000 two years ago.

And, that happened while cutting his campaign debt from just over $500,000 in October 2015 to $250,000 today. The debt represents the hundreds of thousands of dollars of personal money Carter loaned to the campaign during his initial run for the seat in 2014.

The Banks County Commission voted to move forward with plans to place a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) on the ballot.

The commission acted on a formal request from the Development Authority of Banks County, whose members suggested the 1-cent sales tax would bring the county’s roads up to the level needed for sustained economic development and related residential growth.

Scott Ledford, chairman of the Development Authority of Banks County, told commissioners and those in the audience the proposed 1-cent tax would raise about $3 million per year over its five-year term.

If approved by the voters of Banks County, the current 7-cent sales tax would become 8 cents on each dollar purchased.

Tuesday night’s decision was to begin the process of getting the 1-cent LOST on an upcoming ballot so the voters of Banks County can decide the issue. During that process, there will be an education and public input phase where residents will have the opportunity to learn specifics of the proposed tax, its impact on Banks County households and individuals, and how the proceeds would be used by the county.

24
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 24, 2017

Emmory

Emmory is a young male American Bulldog and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

MollyFOPA

Molly is a 3-4 year old, female Redtick Coonhound who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

Bow

Bow is a young male Labrador Retriever and Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

24
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 24, 2017

On October 24, 1733, the Georgia trustees ordered a ship to Rotterdam to pick up a group of Lutherans expelled from Salzburg, Austria, and then send the Salzburgers to Georgia.

On October 24, 1775, Lord John Murray Dunmore, British Governor of Virginia, ordered the British fleet to attack Norfolk, VA.

On October 24, 1790, the Rev. John Wesley wrote the last entry in his journal, which he began keeping on October 14, 1735.

The first American “Unknown Soldier” was chosen on October 24, 1921 in Chalons-sur-Marne, France.

Bearing the inscription “An Unknown American who gave his life in the World War,” the chosen casket traveled to Paris and then to Le Havre, France, where it would board the cruiser Olympia for the voyage across the Atlantic. Once back in the United States, the Unknown Soldier was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, near Washington, D.C.

The Charter of the United Nations took effect on October 24, 1945.

On October 24, 1954, President Dwight D. Eisenhower pledged the United States’ support for the South Vietnam government led by President Ngo Dinh Diem.

On October 24, 1976, Newsweek released a poll showing Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter leading President Gerald Ford in 24 states, with a combined 308 electoral voters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Elaine Myers, who spent more years at the Georgia State Capitol than most legislators, has died.

The state Capitol is mourning the death of Elaine Myers, a longtime House employee.

The Sharpsburg resident retired from the General Assembly in 2014, but returned to work part time in the House majority leader’s office during the 2015 session. She then worked as one of the page desk supervisors in the 2016 session, but illness prevented her from returning to the page desk in the 2017 session.

Myers was diagnosed with ALS in February and died on Saturday. She was 73.

“Elaine Myers was an institution at the state capitol. She was a beacon of joy in an environment that can sometimes get caught up in political conflict and tension. She served this state with a cheerful heart and with grace,” said House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge.

Governor Nathan Deal appointed William J. Edgar as State Court Judge for Bacon County, replacing Judge Kenneth E. Futch, who resigned.

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Frank J. Jordan announced he will retire effective December 31, 2017.

Deal will appoint Jordan’s successor. If Jordan had remained in the judgeship, he would have been up for re-election in May.

Jordan, 70, said the decision to retire after a more than 45-year legal career was made after lengthy conversations with his wife, Pamela.

“My wife and I are both still working, and we have talked about this,” Jordan said. “The timing just felt right.”

Jordan said he is most proud of starting a drug court in Columbus 10 years ago. The accountability court allows those accused of drug-related offenses to enter counseling and rehabilitation programs with the goal to end the addiction.

He saw a drug court in action in 2002, while attending a conference in Reno, Nev. It took almost five years before he could, with the help of others in and out of the court system, activate such a court in Muscogee County.

The Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit serves Chattahoochee, Harris, Marion, Muscogee, Talbot, and Taylor Counties.

State Rep. Kevin Tanner (R-Dawsonville), who chairs the House Transportation Committee, is turning his attention to transit funding.

At a panel discussion on mass transit in Georgia Monday, Rep. Kevin Tanner, R-Dawsonville, said he’s “confident we’re going to see some good things happen” on mass transit – in part because the Peach State has the right political leadership. Among those he cited were some of his fellow panelists – state Sen. Brandon Beach, chairman of the Senate Transportation Committee, and MARTA Board of Directors Chairman Robbie Ashe.

“We have the right group of people to take a giant leap forward when it comes to transit,” Tanner said during the discussion at the American Public Transportation Association exposition at the Georgia World Congress Center.

Tanner is in a better position than most to know what’s possible. He’s chairing the House Commission on Transit Governance and Funding, a group put together by Speaker David Ralston earlier this year. Its mission is clear from its title – to study how public transportation should be paid for, and what governing structures would be needed if the state were to devote regular funding to transit.

“If you’re going to be competitive for economic development in the future, if you want Amazon or companies like Amazon, you have to have transit,” he said.

State Rep. Matt Dollar (R-Marietta) will introduce legislation to preempt local governments from regulating short term rentals through services like AirBNB.

State Rep. Matt Dollar said since the industry is not going away, legislators need to define a statewide framework for how the businesses should operate.

Earlier this year, Dollar introduced legislation that would keep local governments from banning the short-term rental businesses.

Savannah already has restrictions in place for short-term rentals, which the city defines as renting a home for less than 30 days at a time. The regulations include, among other things, only allowing the rentals in certain parts of the city and ensuring that no more than 20 percent of the homes in areas such as the historic district are available for rent at a time.

As written, Dollar’s legislation would repeal the laws Savannah has in place.

“As this becomes a bigger issue, I believe that more locals are going to start putting forth guidelines, restrictions (or) bans,” the Republican said.

I’ve been predicting such legislation since at least July 20, 2017.

Steve Bannon came to Georgia to pitch his anti-establishment efforts to Home Depot founder Bernie Marcus.

A Home Depot co-founder who’s been one of the most prolific givers to Senate Republicans, Marcus fumed to Bannon for hours about the lack of return on his investment. In the past six months alone, Marcus has funneled $2 million to a super PAC aligned with Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and tens of thousands more to the National Republican Senatorial Committee — only to watch the Senate fail again and again.

Marcus is thinking about joining Bannon. An adviser, Steve Hantler, said the billionaire intends to give his party until the end of the year to pass legislation and then would weigh his options.

“Like many donors, if the gridlock continues in Washington, Mr. Marcus will consider new approaches to breaking the gridlock, including those proposed by Steve Bannon and others,” he said.

Asked whether Marcus is open to funding primary challenges to Republican incumbents, Hantler responded: “You will have to draw your own conclusion.”

Georgia has seen the largest price decrease for gasoline as the delivery system recovers from hurricanes and disruption.

The average price per gallon of unleaded regular has fallen 29 cents to $2.38, compared to $2.67 cents in September, according to AAA. The price per gallon is eight cents cheaper than the national average of $2.46.

“The national average gas price is lower for the sixth straight week, the longest such decline since the summer of 2016,” said Patrick DeHaan, head of petroleum analysis for GasBuddy, a technology company that tracks gas prices. “Perhaps even more wild is that the national average has now remained under $3 per gallon for nearly 3 years, or 1,087 days as the days of cheap oil have continued. While recent actions from OPEC may cause oil prices to hold above the key $50 per barrel level, there is no threat of a quick return to the $3 per gallon days. In fact, the national average may continue to decline for a few weeks before leveling off as gasoline inventories continue to heal after Harvey.”

The Georgia Department of Community Affairs recognized Perry as a PlanFirst Community, recognizing its efforts to develop and implement community planning.

Grantville City Council candidates met voters in a public forum last week.

The Columbus Chamber of Commerce is concerned with drug abuse and resulting crimes and their affect on economic development.

“We know — at least what I’ve heard from people in the community — is that much of the crime is to support drug issues, whether it be the use or the trade of drugs,” said Chamber CEO Brian Anderson.

It’s a big concern for the entire city, he explained, and could negatively impact efforts for more job creation.

“We just had a group of site selection consultants in town to kind of grade us on how we do in the economical development arena,” said Anderson. “… They gave us all good, high marks in many, many areas, and then turned around and basically said, ‘Your crime numbers, if anybody does research on your community based on what they can get off the Internet, you could get d-listed for projects because your crime number is so high.

“That was a wake-up call for the business community, that not only is this hurting families, hurting individuals, creating law enforcement and cost-to-city type of concerns, now we also know the numbers themselves could negatively impact our ability to recruit companies and more jobs to the community,” he said. “So we have to work on it if we’re going to be competitive.”

Anderson provided data that the Chamber collected as part of its Regional Prosperity Initiative, the precursor to Columbus 2025. The information was derived from FBI uniform crime reports for the year 2015.

“The overall crime rate in Columbus, GA is 79 percent higher than the average of crimes committed in Georgia,” according to the information. “It is also 113 percent higher than the national average. When it comes to violent crimes, Columbus, GA shows a crime rate that is 47 percent higher than the Georgia average. The crime rate is also 49 percent higher than the national average. When it comes to property crimes, Columbus, GA is shown to be 83 percent higher than the Georgia average and 123 percent higher than the national average.”

The Harris County Chamber of Commerce released its legislative priorities for 2018.

The five items on the 2018 State and Local Legislative Agenda are:

1. We support SB 232 – Facilitating Internet Broadband Rural Expansion (FIBRE) – which would assist Harris County in its economic and workforce development efforts through enhanced broadband access for residents and businesses.

2. We support streamlining government regulatory processes and support incentives for companies investing in critical infrastructure upgrades.

3. We support increased funding for tourism marketing to make Georgia competitive with other southeastern states.

4. We support legislation and initiatives, such as HOPE, Move-On-When-Ready Apprenticeships, Georgia College & Career Academies and other efforts, that address early childhood, pre-K-12 and higher education to effectively prepare all students for the careers of the future and to provide a skilled workforce to support the region’s employers.

5. We support policies that increase the retention of Georgia’s post-secondary graduates and attract talent in high demand fields.

The AJC reports that DeKalb County is seeing slightly elevated early voting turnout.

As of Friday afternoon, the latest numbers available, 766 people had cast ballots in early voting. Early voting opened last Monday at select locations.

Erica Hamilton, who’s at the helm of the DeKalb elections office following the retirement of the director last month, described the numbers as more or less normal.

The reason for the slight uptick, she said, is that DeKalb is taking ballots for the DeKalb County portion of the city of Atlanta (about 10 percent of the city). Normally, Fulton County has been over the city’s entire elections, Hamilton said.

Mark Niesse at the AJC looks at the effects of proposed tax changes in DeKalb County.

Everyone in DeKalb County will pay higher sales taxes and lower property taxes if voters approve on Election Day. But the total cost of the tax proposals varies widely depending on where you live.

Some homeowners in cities will actually make money if the referendums pass. That’s because the property tax break is larger than the cost of the sales tax hike for those residents.

Meanwhile, most residents in unincorporated DeKalb would face higher costs. They would receive a smaller increase in their property tax refund after years of higher tax breaks than city residents.

On average, the tax proposals would cost roughly $80 to $100 per person annually to fund road repaving, fire station repairs and other infrastructure.

A new inland container port in Chatsworth could reduce the number of tractor-trailers on Georgia’s roads by as many as 50,000 per year.

A new inland port opening next year will take 50,000 trucks off the road in Atlanta annually, according to the state Port Authority. The port is expected to shift all that truck traffic to freight trains.

The Port of Savannah dispatches thousands of trucks throughout the state. Many of them use highways connecting Savannah to Atlanta and points north. The new port is expected to divert much of that truck traffic by sending freight on railroad lines from Savannah, through Atlanta and on to Chatsworth.

State officials say that freight will get dispatched by truck from Chatsworth, eliminating 50,000 trucks per year from Atlanta’s highways. Do the math, it comes to about six fewer trucks per hour on Atlanta highways.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is showing off a mobile telemedicine unit that could improve healthcare delivery across Georgia.

The Telehealth Education Delivered mobile unit stopped by the Charlie Norwood VA Medical Center in Augusta to show off telemedicine technology that the national VA is using to reach out to provide greater access, particularly through its 700 outpatient clinics. The Augusta VA has seen 2,500 telehealth visits in the last year, primarily through its community clinics in Athens, Aiken and Statesboro, said April Harris, facility telehealth coordinator. And it is looking to do more with what it calls clinical video telehealth, she said.

“We’re really looking to expand in our (video visits) into the home where veterans do not have to travel, do not have to come in, where it is more convenient, patient- and family-centered for the veteran,” Harris said. The provider back at the medical center has a camera and the VA provides patients with a tablet device to create the video link, she sad.

“Now it is more convenient because we are able to send a device into the home,” Harris said.

The technology can also be used to check on patients after a procedure. VA patient Robert Thompson of Augusta said he has not yet signed up for telehealth but is considering it and actually thinks it should have come sooner.

“We should have had this process a long time ago to save time and money,” he said. Thompson recently had stents placed in his heart and he would like to use telehealth to find out more about his condition.

23
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 23, 2017

Atticus

Atticus is a three-year old male Boxer & Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County Hamilton, GA.

Baby Bear 2

Baby Bear who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County Hamilton, GA.

OscarHarris

Oscar is a male Dachshund who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Harris County Hamilton, GA.