Warrants: Teen threatened to kidnap Gwinnett district attorney, demanded $1M | Gwinnett Daily Post

LAWRENCEVILLE — A Norcross teen is back in jail after allegedly sending threatening emails and letters to the district attorney, the district attorney’s office manager and his own lawyer.

Markel Collins was arrested Monday and charged with contempt of court, two counts of intimidation of a court officer and four counts of terroristic threats. Gwinnett County jail records show he is being held without bond.

According to arrest warrants obtained by the Daily Post, Collins demanded in several correspondences that the court case against him — stemming from an October 2013 arrest by Gwinnett County Public Schools police — be dropped. He reportedly threatened violence and demanded large sums of money.

In an original email sent on May 25, Collins allegedly contacted Gwinnett County District Attorney Danny Porter regarding his case. He demanded the case against him be dropped, asked for $1 million and said that “if he does not get the money, he is going to kidnap Mr. Porter and hold him hostage,” warrants said.

via Warrants: Teen threatened to kidnap Gwinnett district attorney, demanded $1M | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gov. Deal prevents increase in gas tax | Gwinnett Daily Post

Gov. Nathan Deal announced Tuesday he will stop an increase in the motor fuel tax scheduled to go into effect July 1.

According to the Office of the Governor, the average price of a gallon of gas has increased to $3.66 from $3.21 since January and would have resulted in a 15 percent increase in the state gas tax.

“We’re seeing a steady rebound in Georgia’s economy, with our unemployment rate going down and state revenues heading up, but Georgians are still paying gas prices that are high by historical standards,” Deal said. “To remove this financial burden on Georgia taxpayers and businesses, I signed an executive order suspending the motor fuel tax increase set for next month. This will help cut costs for families and keep us the No. 1 place in the nation for business.”

Every six months, at the start of January and July, the Department of Revenue sets the motor fuel tax based on an average of prices. A recent rise in gas prices called for an increase in the motor fuel tax. Major fluctuations in gas prices can also trigger an increase or decrease within those six month periods, but this increase was part of the regular six-month schedule set in law.

via Gov. Deal prevents increase in gas tax | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Board approves fire department’s purchase of body armor | Gwinnett Daily Post

Gwinnett firefighters and paramedics will soon have body armor at their disposal, a move officials said was motivated by events like the Sandy Hook school shooting.

The Gwinnett County Board of Commissioners approved Tuesday the fire department’s purchase of nearly $345,000 worth of body armor for personnel to wear “during violent situations.” Seemingly unorthodox on its face, spokesman Capt. Tommy Rutledge said the decision was based on an evaluation of the department’s current procedures for mass trauma incidents.

“In the majority of violent situations, fire and emergency medical personnel are forced to remain outside until law enforcement officers clear the building or hazard area,” Rutledge said in a news release. “This consumes valuable time that is critical in accessing and treating victims who are still in the hazard zone. The armor provides adequate protection for firefighters as they work with police to quickly search for, remove and treat victims.”

The need for such equipment was identified “following incidents like the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting,” during which 20 children and six adults were killed in Connecticut in 2012, Rutledge said.

At total of 293 sets of armor will be purchased at approximately $1,176.50 apiece. The money used will come from the fire department’s operating budget.

via Board approves fire department’s purchase of body armor | Gwinnett Daily Post.

County buys land along Yellow River | Gwinnett Daily Post

Gwinnett county commissioners agreed Tuesday to purchase 140.4 acres adjacent to the existing 566-acre Yellow River Park on Juhan Road.

The land was sold by The Conservation Fund, a nonprofit that works to protect land for future generations. According to a news release, the 2009 SPLOST program will fund the $100,000 purchase.

Located in southern Gwinnett between the Yellow River and a future park site on Centerville Highway, the land was dedicated for public park purposes in the last will and testament of Ms. Martha J. Johnson. The mostly forested land contains a portion of Centerville Creek and has 2,400 feet of Yellow River frontage.

“Gwinnett County appreciates the opportunity to partner with the Conservation Fund, and we are committed to the permanent protection of this land,” Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash said.

via County buys land along Yellow River | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Fourth company in Gwinnett named to Fortune 500 list | Gwinnett Daily Post

DULUTH — A fourth company that calls Gwinnett home was named this week to the latest Fortune 500 list of America’s top companies.

Asbury Automotive Group, Inc., an automotive retail and service company based in Duluth, moved up from No. 506 to No. 472 nearly six years after it moved its corporate headquarters to Gwinnett. The other Fortune 500 companies in Gwinnett are AGCO Corporation, ranked No. 262, Rock-Tenn Company, No. 293 and NCR Corporation, No. 423.

The four companies are among 17 from Georgia that made the list.

via Fourth company in Gwinnett named to Fortune 500 list | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Georgia drops CRCT, EOCT for new testing system | Gwinnett Daily Post

A new, tougher test is coming to Georgia schools and will replace the Criterion-Referenced Competency Tests and End of Course Tests, commonly called the CRCTs and EOCTs.

The Georgia Department of Education on Wednesday announced a new testing system, called the Georgia Milestones Assessment System, which will arrive during the upcoming school year. In late May, the DOE awarded a five-year, $107.58 million contract to CTB/McGraw-Hill to develop the new system.

The new testing system will include open-ended questions to better gauge students’ content mastery, officials said. With some exceptions for special education students with specific testing accomodations, Georgia Milestones will be administered entirely online by the fifth year of implementation, compared to 35 percent online administration of the EOCT in 2013-2014.

DOE officials said the test will be aligned to the Common Core Georgia Performance Standards and will require more from students than the CRCT and EOCT it replaces, in order to better prepare students for college and career and to provide a more realistic picture of academic progress.

via Georgia drops CRCT, EOCT for new testing system | Gwinnett Daily Post.

Fulton postpones tax vote | www.myajc.com

Fulton County commissioners will try again in two weeks to take the first step toward a 17 percent tax increase after failing Wednesday to get the number of votes necessary to start the process.

Fulton’s first countywide tax hike in 23 years would cost the owner of a $275,000 home an extra $140 a year. But it failed to clear its first hurdle at the Fulton Board of Commissioners on Wednesday. With several commissioner absent, a proposal to advertise the tax increase and schedule public hearings failed on a 3-1 vote. It needed four votes to pass.

The proposal will be back on the commission’s agenda June 18. Critics say the tax hike is illegal and unnecessary.

“It’s reckless because Fulton County residents are still recovering from the worst recession in modern history,” said state Rep. Jan Jones, R-Milton. “The last thing they need is the county reaching further into their wallets.”

Supporters say the tax increase is needed to protect vital services and stabilize a budget still reeling from the Great Recession. Commissioner Joan Garner said Wednesday she supports the tax hike, but also wants to make sure Fulton is spending its money wisely.

via Fulton postpones tax vote | www.myajc.com.

Runoff elections a relic of the Democratic South | WashingtonPost.com

When the polls closed last night in Mississippi, the bitter primary between Sen. Thad Cochran (R) and state Sen. Chris McDaniel (R) wasn’t quite over: A third candidate, realtor Tom Carey (R), scored 1.6 percent of the vote, just barely enough to deny both Cochran and McDaniel a majority of the vote.

Mississippi is one of a handful of states, mostly in the South, that requires the top vote-getters in a primary election to reach a specific threshold in order to avoid a runoff.

Those runoffs are low-turnout affairs, costly for cash-strapped state elections boards and draining for candidates who have to spend another month or two campaigning for the votes of a narrow segment of the electorate. These days, given Republican domination of the South, they can serve to elect the most conservative  possible candidates.

But when primary and runoff elections were first created, around the beginning of the 20th Century, Republicans were an afterthought. The runoff system is a vestige of a time when white Democrats controlled Southern politics, and manipulated election rules to make sure they stayed in power.

“They trace their lineage back to an era when there was only one party in politics,” said Charles Bullock, a political scientist at the University of Georgia who wrote a definitive history of runoff elections in 1992. “Back in the day when the South was one-party Democratic, the runoff was often the determinative election. So you often had more people participating in the runoff than in the original primary.”

via Runoff elections a relic of the Democratic South.

Congressman Phil Gingrey endorses Jack Kingston for Senate

Jack Kingston Phil Gingrey

Gingrey Announces Support for Kingston in Senate Race
Kingston a ‘relentless advocate’ for conservative principles

Kingston Phil Gingrey


Marietta, GA – Standing before the famous Earl Smith Strand Theatre on the historic Mariettta Square, U.S. Congressman Phil Gingrey, MD, today announced his support of Jack Kingston to be Georgia’s next Senator.

“Through the years Jack Kingston and I have been colleagues – and more importantly friends – he has been a relentless advocate for our shared conservative principles,” said Gingrey. “Today I am proud to announce my support for Jack to be our next United States Senator from the great State of Georgia.” Continue reading

Rep. Holt endorses Belton for District 112 seat | Newton Citizen

COVINGTON — With a July runoff set for the State House District 112 seat between Republican candidates Dave Belton and Aaron Brooks, Rep. Doug Holt, R-Social Circle, who has served in the seat for 10 years, is throwing his support behind Belton.

Holt announced his endorsement of Belton Tuesday after several people asked who he believed would do the best job.

“I believe it is time for me to state openly and publicly that ‘Dave Belton is that person,’” Holt said in a press release. “Over the last 10 years, I have come to know Dave very well on both a personal and professional level. His commitment to our country and to public service is without equal.”

Holt said Belton’s military career includes 23 years of service as a pilot in the Navy and Air Force, involving countless missions flown during the Persian Gulf War and in four other conflicts around the world.

“Just weeks ago, he donated his time once again as a volunteer pilot to bring more than 100 of our service men and women from Kyrgyzstan back home. As always, he responded to the call of service,” Holt said. “It is this call to service that I believe has led him to run for the House District 112 seat.”

via Rep. Holt endorses Belton for District 112 seat | Newton Citizen.