The blog.

19
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 19, 2018

Collette Dalton

Collette is a 7-month old female Dachshund and Chihuahua mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Kirby Dalton

Kirby is a year-old, 23-pound male spaniel mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

Puddles Dalton

Puddles is a 9-week old female Great Pyrenees mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of NWGA in Dalton, GA.

19
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 19, 2018

British General Charles Cornwallis surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown, Virginia on October 19, 1781,  ending the American Revolution.

USS Constitution, named by President George Washington, was launched in Boston Harbor on October 21, 1791.

During the War of 1812, the Constitution won its enduring nickname “Old Ironsides” after defeating the British warship Guerriére in a furious engagement off the coast of Nova Scotia. Witnesses claimed that the British shots merely bounced off the Constitution‘s sides, as if the ship were made of iron rather than wood. The success of the Constitution against the supposedly invincible Royal Navy provided a tremendous morale boost for the young American republic.

Today, Constitution serves as a museum ship, and has sailed under her own power as recently as 2012. Southern live oak, harvested and milled on St. Simons Island, Georgia, is a primary construction material for Constitution.

On October 19, 1790, Lyman Hall, one of three signers of the Declaration of Independence from Georgia, died in Burke County, GA. Hall was elected Governor of Georgia in 1783, holding the position for one year, and was an early advocate for the chartering of the University of Georgia.

The United States Senate ratified a treaty with France on October 20, 1805, closing the deal on the Louisiana Purchase.

On October 20, 1905, President Theodore Roosevelt stopped in Roswell to visit his mother’s girlhood home at Bulloch Hall.

Dizzy Gillespie was born on October 21, in Cheraw, South Carolina.

President Warren G. Harding spoke in Alabama on October 21, 1921, and publicly condemned the practice of lynching.

Harding was a progressive Republican politician who advocated full civil rights for African Americans and suffrage for women. He supported the Dyer Anti-lynching Bill in 1920. As a presidential candidate that year, he gained support for his views on women’s suffrage, but faced intense opposition on civil rights for blacks. The 1920s was a period of intense racism in the American South, characterized by frequent lynchings. In fact, the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People) reported that, in 1920, lynching claimed, on average, the lives of two African Americans every week.

Lewis Grizzard was born on October 20, 1946 at Fort Benning, Georgia.

On October 21, 1976, Billy Carter spoke to an audience in Albany, Georgia, about his brother’s campaign for President.

On his brother Jimmy’s drinking habits, Billy said, “Jimmy used to drink liquor. Now he’s running for president he drinks Scotch, and I’ve never trusted a Scotch drinker.” Billy preferred the alcohol choice of his brother’s running mate, Walter Mondale – “I liked him the best of all the ones who came to Plains. He’s from a small town and he’s a beer drinker.”

Today, Billy Carter’s service station is preserved as a museum in Plains, Georgia.

On October 20, 1977, a small twin-engine plane carrying members of Lynyrd Skynyrd from Greenville, South Carolina to Baton Rouge, Louisiana crashed in a swamp in Gillsburg, Mississippi. Singer Ronnie Van Zant, guitarist Steve Gaines, vocalist Cassie Gaines, assistant road manager Dean Kilpatrick, pilot Walter McCreary and co-pilot William Gray died in the crash.

On October 19, 1983, the United States Senate voted 78-22 to create a federal holiday honoring Martin Luther King, Jr., to be celebrated on the third Monday of January. The House passed the King holiday bill, sponsored by Reps. Katie Hall (D.-IN) and Jack Kemp (R-NY), by a vote of 338-90 in August. President Ronald Reagan signed the legislation on November 3, 1983.

The Atlanta Braves won the first game of the 1995 World Series on October 21, 1995, as Greg Maddux dominated the Cleveland Indians, allowing only two hits. Native American groups protested the names of both teams.

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at the beginning of what would eventually become Fort Benning.

100 years ago, Camp Benning raised its flag on Oct. 19, 1918, almost two weeks after the first Army troops arrived on Macon Road where the Columbus Public Library and other public buildings stand. The only evidence from the MidTown site that housed 300 tents is a nearby monument in the neighborhood at South Dixon Drive and Mimosa Street.

That small camp led to a bigger location 8 miles down the road and redesignated Fort Benning on Feb. 18, 1922. The Maneuver Center of Excellence is home of the Infantry and Armor schools as the sixth largest military installation in the United States.

“Columbus has been a good neighbor to us and wanted us here,” said Scott Daubert, director of the National Infantry Museum and Soldier Center. “They wanted us here. They courted the government.”

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Morning fix for numbers junkies:

Total early ballots cast so far: 387,186

2018 General Early Voters who also voted in the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary Election

Republican – 133,359

Democratic – 80,171

R:D ratio – 1.663

2018 General Early Voters who also voted in the 2018 General Primary Election

Republican – 89,971

Democratic – 70,539

R:D ratio – 1.2726

Continue Reading..

18
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 18, 2018

Deacon Etowah

Deacon is a young male mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, GA.

Graham Etowah

Graham is a young male mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, GA.

Leo Etowah

Leo is a male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, GA.

18
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 18, 2018

The Mason-Dixon line separating Pennsylvania from Maryland was established on October 18, 1767.

In 1760, tired of border violence between the colonies’ settlers, the British crown demanded that the parties involved hold to an agreement reached in 1732. As part of Maryland and Pennsylvania’s adherence to this royal command, Mason and Dixon were asked to determine the exact whereabouts of the boundary between the two colonies. Though both colonies claimed the area between the 39th and 40th parallel, what is now referred to as the Mason-Dixon line finally settled the boundary at a northern latitude of 39 degrees and 43 minutes. The line was marked using stones, with Pennsylvania’s crest on one side and Maryland’s on the other.

Twenty years later, in late 1700s, the states south of the Mason-Dixon line would begin arguing for the perpetuation of slavery in the new United States while those north of line hoped to phase out the ownership of human chattel. This period, which historians consider the era of “The New Republic,” drew to a close with the Missouri Compromise of 1820, which accepted the states south of the line as slave-holding and those north of the line as free. The compromise, along with those that followed it, eventually failed.

On October 18, 1867, the United States took over Alaska from Russia and ran up Old Glory there for the first time.

Separated from the far eastern edge of the Russian empire by only the narrow Bering Strait, the Russians had been the first Europeans to significantly explore and develop Alaska.

Seeing the giant Alaska territory as a chance to cheaply expand the size of the nation, William H. Seward, President Andrew Johnson‘s secretary of state, moved to arrange the purchase of Alaska. Agreeing to pay a mere $7 million for some 591,000 square miles of land-a territory twice the size of Texas and equal to nearly a fifth of the continental United States-Seward secured the purchase of Alaska at the ridiculously low rate of less than 2¢ an acre.

On October 18, 1870, Rockdale and McDuffie Counties were created when Georgia Governor Rufus Bullock signed legislation creating them.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting by the numbers:

Total votes cast: 300,179

Early voters who cast ballots in the 2016 Presidential Preference Primary

Republican: 102,033

Democratic: 62,280

Early voters who cast ballots in the 2018 General Primary

Republican: 70,049

Democratic: 54,878

Early voters who cast ballots in 2018 Primary, 2018 Primary Runoff, or 2016 Presidential Preference Primary

Republican: 118,116

Democratic: 78,784

Early voters in 2018 who did not vote in 2014 General Election but voted in 2018 PRI, PRO, or 2016PPP

Republican: 6011

Democratic: 5368

Early voting is up, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Bibb County and others across Georgia are seeing an unusually high number of voters hitting the polls for a midterm election. The highlight of this year’s ballot is a closely contested battle between Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams to be Georgia’s next governor.

Through Tuesday, 211,861 Georgians had voted, which is a 214 percent increase over the last governor’s election in 2014 when 67,372 ballots were filled out over the same time frame, according to georgiavotes.com, which takes publicly available data and organizes it. It was in 2014 that Gov. Nathan Deal fended of Democratic challenger Jason Carter on the ballot.

Since Monday 3,767 people voted in person in Bibb County. That compares to just 1,631 advanced voters for the first three days of early voting in 2014, according to the Macon-Bibb County Board of Elections.

This year’s numbers are more on par with the 4,565 in-person voters for the first three days of early voting for the 2016 presidential election.

Through Tuesday, there were 2,453 votes cast in Houston County, up 278 percent from 2014, according to georgiavotes.com, which also shows large increases of voters in counties such as Monroe, Peach and Jones.

The large turnout is likely due to the “Trump factor” that’s rallying both sides of the political aisle. Also, in Georgia polls are showing a closely contested battle to become the next governor while other key state and local positions are up for grabs as well.

Governor Nathan Deal yesterday announced that the Trump Administration has approved federal assistance for seven additional Georgia counties.

Gov. Nathan Deal received notice from the White House that an additional seven counties have been approved for federal individual assistance following Hurricane Michael. A total of 13 counties have now been approved for individual assistance by President Donald Trump.

Individual assistance makes federal funding available to individuals and households, including grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the hurricane. The following counties were approved for individual assistance Tuesday evening: Crisp, Grady, Lee, Mitchell, Terrell, Thomas and Worth.

“I appreciate President Trump’s quick approval of our requests for federal assistance in the Georgia communities most heavily affected by Hurricane Michael,” said Deal. “Our partners at the federal level, including the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), are working diligently alongside state and local officials to help our communities recover as quickly as possible. I appreciate both President Trump and Vice President Pence visiting Georgia this week to show their support and reiterate the federal government’s commitment to Georgia’s citizens during the response and recovery process. I’m also proud of the brave efforts of Georgia’s first responders, emergency management officials, law enforcement officers, medical professionals, recovery teams and others who are providing much-needed aid to residents of the impacted areas.”

Baker, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Miller and Seminole counties were previously approved for individual assistance. Additionally, 31 counties were already approved for public assistance, which assists with emergency work and debris removal. A list of the counties approved for public assistance is available here.

FEMA and the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency are continuing to conduct individual assistance assessments, and the president may add additional counties for designation based upon the assessments.

Democratic candidate for Governor Stacey Abrams interviewed with the Augusta Chronicle editorial board.

Voters in State House District 14 will not vote on a replacement for State Rep. Christian Coomer (R-Cartersville) until a special election at a later date, according to the Daily Tribune.

Coomer was appointed by Gov. Nathan Deal to a seat on the Georgia Court of Appeals and in order for Deal to declare a special election to fill Coomer’s vacant house seat, Coomer had to either resign or just let time pass until he could be sworn in. Coomer said he opted to resign.

Now it’s up to Deal as to when the special election will be.

Georgia Code Section 21-2-541 stipulates that there be at least a 29 day period between the Governor’s call for a special election and the actual election, unless the special election is scheduled in conjunction with a state-wide general election, such as a runoff. However, a same-day special election must be conducted separately from the state-wide general election or runoff using completely different ballots, voting equipment, facilities, poll workers and paperwork.

With Coomer’s resignation already in the Governor’s hands, Nov. 5 would be the last day Deal could call for a special election in conjunction with the Dec. 4 runoff election, provided there is a runoff, according to Kirk.

Attempts were made to reach Deal for comment, but he was touring south Georgia for a first-hand look at the destruction wrought by Hurricane Michael. A spokesperson said the Governor’s Office said Deal could possibly make a decision by the end of the week.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) continues to enjoy a fundraising advantage over his Democratic opponent, according to The Brunswick News.

Going into the last weeks of his re-election campaign, U.S. Rep Buddy Carter, R-1, added to his cash in the bank, reporting $1.15 million on hand, adding more than $224,000 to the kitty over what he reported at the end of the second quarter of this year.

Through the third quarter, Carter reported contributions of $349,643.88 and expenditures of $120,855.75. That again dwarfs the reported numbers from Democratic challenger Lisa Ring, who reported $61,036.56 in contributions, $67,917.94 in expenditures and cash-on-hand of $5,264.78.

Georgia pecan farmers may lose half their crops this year from Hurricane Michael, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The country’s top pecan producing state will likely end up with about half of its prized crop after Hurricane Michael ripped through southwest Georgia orchards last week.

Georgia pecan growers were expecting a bumper crop this year, with the state’s vast number of trees poised to produce a whopping 110 million pounds of the nut.

Now, farmers are looking at harvesting about 55 million pounds. It’s bad enough to make Hurricane Irma, which wiped out about 30 percent of the state’s pecans last year, look mild by comparison.

“A lot of these orchards have been in families and a lot of these trees that are down were planted by granddad and great-granddad and daddy, and they’re gone,” said Brent Brinkley, who said he lost about 3,000 trees at his farm, Weybrenee Farms, in Mitchell County.

“That’s where we’re different from the lost cotton crop. Next year, you just plant cotton again. This is a disaster – it is a disaster for the pecan industry,” Brinkley said.

Hurricane Michael was particularly brutal to older trees – some that have been around for eight decades or longer – that could produce more than 200 pounds of pecans each season.

Cotton farmers also suffered Hurricane Michael’s wrath, according to GPB News.

“We had a great crop of cotton out there that was opened up and ready to be harvested and that’s where the problem lies,” said Taylor Sills with the Georgia Cotton Commission.  “The wind came through and essentially blew the cotton off the plant.”  Sills called Michael one of the worst disasters that could happen to farmers.  “The ripples of this storm will continue to be felt in rural Georgia for years to come,” he said. Sills said some farmers are just now getting assistance after Hurricane Irma hit last year and losses topped $100 millon. This year’s damage is expected to far exceed that.

Both President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence visited the state this week and pledged their support to help farmers.  On his visit, Pence said the federal government would do everything it could to make farmers whole.

Georgia’s ports at Savannah and Brunswick continue to post impressive numbers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Port of Savannah handled 364,900 twenty-foot equivalent container units (TEUs) in September, for 23 consecutive months of growth.

The September numbers for Savannah represent an increase of almost 39,000 TEUs handled over September of 2017. Brunswick’s port had a 37.6 percent increase in roll-on/roll-off trade over the same time period.

“The impressive volumes moving through our deepwater terminals are related to our customers building inventory for the peak buying season,” said GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch. “We anticipate year-on-year growth to continue as we’re trending toward a strong fourth quarter of the calendar year.”

For the first quarter of fiscal year 2019, the Savannah Port handled 1.1 million TEUs. That performance is a 10.8 percent growth (109,164 TEUs) compared to the first quarter of FY2018.

Gwinnett County Public Schools students performed better on the ACT than the statewide and national averages, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The scores are in and Gwinnett County Public Schools exceeded the state and national average on the ACT assessment during the 2017-18 academic year, according to a report released on Wednesday.

GCPS students, on average, received a composite score of 22.6, outscoring the state average of 21.6 and national average of 20.8.

“The ACT is based on what students learn in high school and provides personalized information about their strengths for education and career planning,” Jonathan Patterson, associate superintendent of curriculum and instructional support, said. “The learning that takes place every day in the classroom and our pursuit of excellence in academic knowledge, skills, and behavior for each student helps us to better prepare our students for college and careers.”

According to GCPS officials 10 schools — Brookwood, Dacula, Discovery, Grayson, Gwinnett Online Campus, Gwinnett School of Mathematics, Science, and Technology, Meadowcreek, Norcross, Parkview and Peachtree Ridge — increased their composite score while Duluth and Lanier’s score remained unchanged.

The Georgia Department of Revenue has reopened the Rural Hospital Tax Credit program for donations to some rural hospitals, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The state Department of Revenue announced Wednesday that the program will be reopened for donations. The agency did not say how much of the $60 million in tax credits remain untapped.

“We have not yet certified the exact amount,” said department spokesman William Gaston, who said the figure will be available in the coming weeks.

Rep. Terry England, R-Auburn, who chairs the House Appropriations Committee, said some would-be donors likely realized their tax liability was not as great as they believed it would be when they first made the pledge.

The two-year-old program offers taxpayers a dollar-for-dollar tax credit for donations made to rural hospitals. Donors had until Oct. 1 to send in their check.

But England said he does not see this as a setback for the program, citing the interest taxpayers have shown. England said he was not told how much money is still available.

Savannah State University may have to lay off employees as enrollment declines, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Brunswick City Commissioners approved a revised alcohol ordinance, according to The Brunswick News.

Passed unanimously, the new city code replaces the former section and covers several other items. Most businesses that sell alcohol won’t see a change to their existing operations. Licensing fees won’t change, nor will the process for obtaining a license. Rather, the new ordinance would create whole new classes and licensing fees for manufacturers who sell and could serve their products.

Notably, the new ordinance passed did not include a previous provision that would have required servers of alcohol to obtain licenses — so called “bar cards.” Commissioners backed down from that proposal earlier this month after outcry on social media.

Valdosta State University political scientists will speak about the 2018 elections at the first Coffee Talk this afternoon, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Richard B. Russell Airport in Rome took delivery of an historic F-14, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

17
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Dogs for October 17, 2018

Laine Toccoa

Laine is a young female Shepherd mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter in Toccoa, GA.

Scully Toccoa

Scully is a young female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter in Toccoa, GA.

Mulder Toccoa

Mulder is a young male Retriever mix who is available for adoption from the Toccoa-Stephens County Humane Shelter in Toccoa, GA.

17
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 18, 2017

Five thousand British and Hessian troops surrendered to patriot militia on October 17, 1777, ending the Second Battle of Saratoga, and leading to France recognizing American independence and sending military aid.

An editorial published pseudononymously by Alexander Hamilton on October 17, 1796, accused Thomas Jefferson, then a Presidential candidate, of having an affair with a slave.

Happy birthday to the Texas Rangers, created on October 17, 1835.

In the midst of their revolt against Mexico, Texan leaders felt they needed a semi-official force of armed men who would defend the isolated frontier settlers of the Lone Star Republic against both Santa Ana’s soldiers and hostile Indians; the Texas Rangers filled this role. But after winning their revolutionary war with Mexico the following year, Texans decided to keep the Rangers, both to defend against Indian and Mexican raiders and to serve as the principal law enforcement authority along the sparsely populated Texan frontier.

Paul Anderson, known as the “World’s Strongest Man,” was born in Toccoa, Georgia on October 17, 1932. From his New York Times obituary:

As the unknown substitute for the injured American champion at the first Soviet-American dual athletic competition, in Moscow in 1955, the 5-foot-9-inch Anderson was scorned by his hosts.

The scorn turned to snickers when Anderson called for a weight of 402.4 pounds, more than 20 pounds above the world record. The snickers stopped when the 340-pound Anderson lifted the weight. By the time he set another record, in the clean and jerk, he was being hailed by Soviet fans.

The stunning achievement at the height of the Cold War made Anderson an instant American hero, and it was largely an anticlimax when he set three more world records at the world championships in Munich, Germany, later that year.

Although virtually conceded the gold medal at the 1956 Olympics in Melbourne, Australia, Anderson was stricken with a severe inner-ear infection.

Competing at 304 pounds and with a 103-degree fever, he fell so far behind his chief rival that on the final of three required lifts, he needed to clean and jerk 413.5 pounds, an Olympic record, to claim the gold. Twice he tried and failed. On the third attempt he asked God for a little extra help and got it.

“It wasn’t making a bargain,” he said later, “I needed help.”

Paul Anderson Memorial Park in Toccoa is a private park supported by a 501(c)(3) organization.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Yesterday, 75,347 voters cast early ballots in person on the second day of in-person early voting, according to the Secretary of State’s Absentee Voter File produced last night. On Monday, 69,818 in-person early ballots were cast, for a total of 145,165 ballots cast in person.

69,006 mail-in ballots have been returned and processed.

TOTAL VOTES CAST SO FAR: 214,171

Vice President Mike Pence made an unannounced stop at the Sunbelt Ag Expo in Moultrie yesterday, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Vice President Mike Pence, who was in the area examining storm damage, pledged the federal government will be there as the region recovers and touted the economy under President Donald Trump.

“Michael was a once-in-a-generation storm that dealt a devastating blow to Florida and the Sunbelt (area),” said Pence, whose trip was taking him to hard-hit Decatur County later in the afternoon.

“We’ll be there to help Georgia and the area recover,” Pence said. “The spirit of people in this region, the strength of the people of this area is inspiring (America). It really is.”

“They called and said the vice president’s coming with (U.S. Agriculture) Secretary (Sonny) Perdue, and they said we’ve got to make that happen and we did.” [said Expo Executive Director Chip Blalock.]

From The Hill:

“As the president has said, the climate is changing, but what the causes of that are, are yet to be seen,” he told reporters in Moultrie, Ga. “The reality is it’s some of the worst storms that have ever affected this area were 50 and 100 years ago.”

From WSB-TV:

Vice President Mike Pence visited southwest Georgia to survey storm damage from Hurricane Michael, a day after President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump did the same thing.

Channel 2 Action News was the only local station with Pence as he toured parts hit the hardest and met with farmers from Albany to Bainbridge.

“It’s not going to go unnoticed in this administration and we’re going to make sure the people of this region will have the support to rebuild,” Pence said.

Pence and his wife Karen Pence headed to the Sunbelt Agricultural Expo in Moultrie after they landed around 10:30 a.m. in Georgia.

“I expect today we’ll also help the American people understand that we’ve got a great challenge in one of the most prolific agricultural areas in America,” Pence said.

Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue, U.S. Sens. Johnny Isakson and David Perdue and U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop joined Pence during his visit.

The Albany Herald has video and photos of Pence’s visit.

Liberals are suing Gwinnett County claiming the board of elections discards too many bad mail-in ballots, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The Georgia Muslim Voter Project and Asian-American Advancing Justice-Atlanta filed the lawsuit against the county and Kemp late Monday night. The suit is a response to Gwinnett County elections officials decision to reject hundreds of absentee mail-in ballots because of various issues, including missing information or signatures that did not match the ones county officials had on file.

The civil rights groups want the U.S. District court for the Northern District of Georgia to let them have until three days after the Nov. 6 general election to prove their identity or two get an expedited hearing to resolve the matter.

Records from the secretary of state’s website shows more than 400 of the absentee ballots that have been returned have been rejected. Thousands of absentee by mail ballots were requested according to records, which were forwarded by Gwinnett County officials to the Daily Post.

County spokesman Joe Sorenson said the county has complied with laws governing the handling of ballots.

“The county is committed to a process that protects the voting rights of all of its citizens and fully complies with the law in the process,” he said.

From the Gainesville Times:

Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee, says Democrat Stacey Abrams and liberal allies are fighting for immigrants without legal status to cast ballots in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Abrams’ campaign says that’s untrue and Kemp is deliberately twisting her words and her record. It says Kemp is trying to deflect from his own record of making it harder for citizens to vote.

Kemp has sought to move past the controversy by swinging hard at Abrams. In an appearance Monday on Fox News, he said a soundbite of Abrams at a recent campaign event is evidence she wants immigrants without legal status to vote.

The clip of Abrams was from a campaign stop in Jonesboro last week with U.S. Sen. Elizabeth Warren. During the event, Abrams said: “The thing of it is, is that blue waves aren’t blue … the blue wave is African-American. It’s white, it’s Latino, it’s Asian-Pacific Islander. It is disabled. It is differently abled. It is LGBTQ, it is law enforcement. It is veterans. It is made up of those who have been told they are not worthy of being here. It is comprised of those who are documented and undocumented. It is comprised of those who have been told they’re successful and those who have been left behind.”

During the Fox News interview, Kemp singled out Abrams’ words that the blue wave, referring to Democrats aspirations to sweep the November election, includes “those who are documented and undocumented.”

“Wow. It means she wants illegals to vote in Georgia. This is a shocking development in the campaign. While she was campaigning with Elizabeth Warren she actually said this,” Kemp said. “I think hard-working Georgians should decide who their governor is, not people here illegally like my opponent wants.”

From the Macon Telegraph:

Part of the problem stems from the confusing instructions on Gwinnett County’s absentee envelopes, which are printed in both English and Spanish. Gwinnett is the only one of Georgia’s 159 counties required by the federal Voting Rights Act to produce dual-language ballots because of a rising Hispanic voter base.

The suit said Gwinnett County, where 30 percent of voters are black, had rejected nearly one out of 10 absentee ballots through late last week, far more than any other county. Fulton County, the state’s most populous, has rejected 60 absentee ballots out of more than 4,355 as of Tuesday afternoon, Elections Director Rick Barron said. Many other Georgia counties, such as Chattahoochee, where Fort Benning’s soldiers rely heavily on absentee ballots, have not reported rejecting any such ballots.

Candice Broce, a spokeswoman for Kemp, said eligibility for absentee ballots is determined solely by local officials, but that his office opened an investigation on behalf of the state elections board Tuesday to ensure all counties are abiding by the law in handling those ballots.

She added that Kemp “will not be bullied by out-of-state organizations or political operatives who want to generate headlines and advance a baseless narrative.”

Democrat Sarah Griggs Amico says victims should be believed, but not when they’re accusing her company of racial and sexual discrimination. From the AJC:

Attorneys for the company headed by the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor sent letters to the state’s top two Republican campaigns demanding that they stop “making false statements” about a discrimination lawsuit filed against the business.

Jack Cooper, a truck-hauling company led by Sarah Riggs Amico, sent the letters Monday requesting Amico’s opponent, former state Rep. Geoff Duncan, his spokesman Dan McLagan and Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor, retract statements made in a press release last week.

The request comes days after Kemp called for Amico to withdraw her candidacy, describing the allegations in the lawsuit filed in federal court in April as “unacceptable and disqualifying.”

“She had her dad call his lawyer on us?” McLagan said. “Well, Big Mike should read the sexual harassment allegations found in paragraphs 26, 116, 118 and 139 of the lawsuit.”

A press release from Kemp’s campaign last week called it a “sexual assault lawsuit.” Employees have alleged sexual harassment, according to court records.

Kemp campaign spokesman Cody Hall called on Stacey Abrams, the Democratic nominee for governor, to also ask Amico to withdraw from the race. He accused Abrams of playing politics, saying sexual harassment and racial discrimination shouldn’t be ignored.

“That’s why Brian Kemp has a plan to ensure that state employees are treated with respect and allegations of misconduct are addressed immediately,” he said.

Glynn County has seen 2229 ballots cast in the first two days of early voting, according to The Brunswick News.

As of 5 p.m. Monday, 1,046 had voted.

Another 1,183 turned out by 5 p.m. Tuesday to total 2,229 in the first two days of early voting, according to Elections and Registration Supervisor Monica Couch.

Of the total, 1,186 people voted in the mainland location at the Office Park Building in Brunswick.

The other 1,043 voted in the St. Simons Island polling place at Glynn County Fire Station No. 2.

She added that the board has been “overwhelmed” by just the first two days of early voting turnout.

The Augusta Chronicle reviews the Constitutional Amendment and referenda on the November ballot. +1 for using “referenda” in a headline.

More than 69,000 early ballots were cast Monday, according to WSB-TV.

Voters across Georgia rushed to the polls on the first day of in-person early voting Monday, with 69,049 people casting their ballots.

That’s a sharp increase from the last midterm election in 2014, when 20,898 people showed up on the first day of in-person early voting, according to numbers from the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Some early voters in Cobb County had to wait in lines for more than two hours, and others in Fulton County encountered delays because of technical difficulties.

About 58 percent of voters cast early ballots during the 2016 presidential election, and 37 percent voted in advance in 2014.

From the Rome News-Tribune:

On Monday afternoon, the Board of Elections Director Lee Ann George reported that more than 360 voters had cast ballots at either the Nathan Dean Community Center on Goodyear Ave. in Rockmart, or at the Elections office at the Polk County Administration building in Cedartown.

Locally, votes on two local County Commission seats and whether to extend the Special Purpose, Local Option Sales Tax to 2026 when it the current fund concludes a year and a half from now are some of the main issues facing Polk County on the ballot.

District 2 Commissioner and this year’s chair Jennifer Hulsey seeks a second term in representing the area on the Republican ticket, while longtime candidate Ricky Clark seeks Democratic support in Polk County.

In a special election for the District 3 rate, a trio of candidates are up on the ballot this year for the seat that will fill the rest of the time held currently by Commissioner Hal Floyd, who is running unopposed in the seat being left open when Marshelle Thaxton’s term expires on December 31.

Jeri Purdy, Ray Carter and Larry Reynolds are all seeking the seat that will be back up for a vote in 2020.

From Patch.com:

More than 10,000 ballots were cast Monday during the first day of early voting in Fulton County. The county has opened 20 early voting locations and 11 outreach locations in which residents can vote in the nation’s most watched governor’s race and other state and local elections.

“We are pleased with the high turnout on the first day of early voting,” said Richard Barron, Director, Fulton County Registration and Elections. “It is our hope that our residents will continue to take advantage of the many locations, extended hours and two weekends so they can vote early.”

Early voting continues through November 2. This year’s gubernatorial election between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams has also resulted in a record number of absentee ballots requested as well as a record number of voters being registered.

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) and his Democratic opponent met in a debate, according to the Savannah Morning News.

First Congressional District incumbent Republican Buddy Carter and Democratic challenger Lisa Ring appeared alongside each other for the first time on Tuesday at a political forum hosted by the Savannah Branch of the NAACP.

RING: “We need to raise the federal minimum wage to 15. Wages have been stagnant since the 70s,” Ring said.

Ring said it was “unforgivable” that there are people working two full time jobs who still cannot provide for their families.

“When workers have money, they can spend it, and that strengthens the economy,” Ring said.

CARTER: “No we should not raise minimum wage. What’s happening right now is: wages are going up,” Carter said.

“What we need to do is create more jobs and have more demands for employees. That raises wages,” Carter said.

Gwinnett County Commissioners voted to issue $36.5 million through the Urban Redevelopment Agency to buy 103 acres at Jimmy Carter Blvd. and I-85, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Floyd County Commissioners are considering 4 percent raises for employees in the next fiscal year’s budget, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources reports that 1,730 sea turtle nests and 90,000 hatchlings were documented in Georgia, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“It’s another thoroughly average year,” said Department of Natural Resources senior wildlife biologist Mark Dodd. “But overall we’re interested in the long term and that trend is increasing 3 percent annually.”

Georgia now sees about twice the nesting levels documented when comprehensive surveys began in 1989. The record year was 2016, when 3,289 nests were found.

Nearly 400 of this year’s nests were recorded in Chatham County. Ossabaw Island led the county-wide count with 198 nests, then Wassaw with 153, Tybee with 21 and Little Tybee with nine.

Loggerheads nest from May through mid-August in Georgia, crawling up on sandy beaches near where they themselves hatched decades prior. They lay clutches that average 120 eggs, using their powerful hind flippers to dig out a nest cavity above the high tide line. Those eggs hatch in about 60 days, usually beginning in mid-July. Named for their large heads, loggerheads are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act, but their numbers have been recovering.

16
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 16, 2018

Pixie TLC

Pixie is an adult female Rhodesian Ridgeback mix who is available for adoption from TLC Pet Rescue in Stockbridge, GA.

Pixie is a 2 year old Rhodesian Ridgeback mix. She is a small girl fully grown at 25 lbs so she definitely has some smaller breeds in her. She is just stunning and really is the sweetest girl. She is great with all dogs, kids and cats. She is a snuggle bug as well. What more could you ask for? House and crate trained too!

Oliver TLC

Oliver is an adult male Treeing Walker Coonhound who is available for adoption from TLC Pet Rescue in Stockbridge, GA.

Oliver is just two years young and full of life and energy. He is a treeing walker coonhound and would make a great companion to any family. He is settling into his foster home nicely and gets along with all of the dogs there. He is slightly timid but is definitely coming out of his shell and loves to play!

Freckles TLC

Freckles is a young female German Shorthaired Pointer mix puppy who is available for adoption from TLC Pet Rescue in Stockbridge, GA.

Freckles is extremely sweet, friendly and your typical happy puppy! She gets along great with all dogs, kids and cats. She is house and crate trained as well. She would be the perfect addition to any family!

16
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 16, 2018

The Pennsylvania Gazette published a criticism against the British Tea Act on October 16, 1773.

The Tea Act of 1773 was a bill designed to save the faltering British East India Company by greatly lowering its tea tax and granting it a virtual monopoly on the American tea trade. The low tax allowed the company to undercut even tea smuggled into America by Dutch traders, and many colonists viewed the act as yet another example of taxation tyranny. In response, the “Philadelphia Resolutions” called the British tax upon America unfair and said that it introduced “arbitrary government and slavery” upon the American citizens. The resolutions urged all Americans to oppose the British tax and stated that anyone who transported, sold or consumed the taxed tea would be considered “an enemy to his country.”

On October 16, 1854, Abraham Lincoln, a candidate for Congress, spoke against the Kansas-Nebraska Act and called the practice of slavery “immoral.”

Lincoln, who was practicing law at the time, campaigned on behalf of abolitionist Republicans in Illinois and attacked the Kansas-Nebraska Act. He denounced members of the Democratic Party for backing a law that “assumes there can be moral right in the enslaving of one man by another.” He believed that the law went against the founding American principle that “all men are created equal.”

On October 16, 1918, visitors to the Southeastern Fair at the Lakewood Fairgrounds were required by the Georgia State Board of Health to don face masks in order to prevent the spread of the Spanish flu.

Maynard Jackson was elected Mayor of Atlanta on October 16, 1973. Jackson was the first African-Amercian Mayor of Atlanta; he served eight years, and was elected for a third, non-consecutive term in 1990.

On October 16, 1976, Jimmy Carter campaigned in Youngstown, Ohio.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Donald Trump visited middle Georgia yesterday to learn about hurricane damage, according to WMAZ.

President Trump’s first stop was at a Red Cross distribution center off Eisenhower Parkway. He addressed first responders and volunteers, thanking them for their relief efforts.

“In Florida, it was housing and other things, and over here in Georgia, the farmers, well, the crops were really uprooted and we’re going to get it taken care of,” says Trump.

After the Red Cross visit, the motorcade headed south to a farm on the edge of Bibb County. President Trump shook hands with local farmers, promising to help replenish crops and infrastructure.

President Trump visited the Georgia State Farmers Market, according to the Macon Telegraph.

During a visit to Macon on Monday, President Donald Trump was told that Georgia farmers suffered “generational losses” as a result of Hurricane Michael.

Trump asked for further explanation.

“I don’t like the sound of generational damage,” he said. “What does that mean and how long does that take to get back?”

Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue, former Georgia governor, said pecan trees typically take seven years to produce and 10 years to become profitable.

“Many pecan trees across the state in southwest Georgia have toppled,” Perdue told the president. “They were looking for a bumper crop — cotton, pecans and peanuts — and the devastation there is heart breaking.”

Trump, Perdue, Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal, Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black and Brock Long, the director of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, praised the hurricane response before a group of press at the Macon State Farmers Market.

From the Albany Herald:

Dougherty County Commission Chairman Chris Cohilas was the lone county representative to meet with Donald Trump during a presidential visit and Georgia briefing on Hurricane Michael with State Leadership at a Red Cross Shelter in Macon late Monday.

According to a White House press release, participants were:

· The President

· The First Lady

· Governor Nathan Deal, Governor of Georgia

· Secretary Sonny Perdue, Department of Agriculture

· Secretary Kirstjen Nielsen, Department of Homeland Security

· Administrator Brock Long, Federal Emergency Management Center

· Representative Sanford Bishop, United States Representative from Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District

· Representative Austin Scott, United States Representative from Georgia’s 8th Congressional District

· Commissioner Gary Black, Agriculture Commissioner for Georgia

· State Senator Dean Burke, State Senator from Georgia’s 11th Senate District

· Chris Cohilas, County Commissioner for Dougherty County, Georgia

· Homer Bryson, Director, Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency

· Virginia Mewborn, Operations Center Director, American Red Cross

· Charles Blake, Division Disaster Executive, American Red Cross

· Paul Bowers, Chief Executive Officer of Georgia Power

Later today, Bishop, Perdue, and Black will be joined by Vice President Mike Pence as they meet with farmers and agribusinesses in some the hardest hit areas of Southwest Georgia.

“Responding to natural disasters and helping our communities recover is a responsibility we all share regardless of ideology or political affiliation,” said Congressman Bishop. “We need robust and expedient assistance, and I am working tirelessly to secure relief for all those impacted by Hurricane Michael. Agriculture was particularly devastated by Hurricane Michael, causing enormous damage to Georgia’s pecan, cotton, and peanut crop. Some farmers are facing a total loss.”

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

State Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said workers in these affected counties may qualify for the federal Disaster Unemployment Assistance to compensate for income lost as a direct result of Michael.

“The heavy damage that resulted from last week’s storm forced businesses to close for repairs, leaving owners and employees without incomes,” Butler said. “These federal benefits help provide a financial bridge until their incomes resume.”

Those who were directly impacted by Michael and inside the authorized counties must first apply for regular unemployment insurance on the Georgia Department of Labor website at dol.georgia.gov or in person at any career center.

A transcript provided by the White House reported Trump as saying, “I want to thank FEMA.  First responders, the law enforcement has been so incredible.  Secretary Nielsen, you worked so hard.  I don’t think — have you gone to sleep in the last two weeks?  I don’t think so.  (Laughter.)  But your whole team has been fantastic.  And, Governor, I’d like to thank you on behalf of the country.  What a job you’ve done in Georgia.  And I have to say Rick Scott in Florida, likewise.  The two of you have really done something.”

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that Georgia’s request for federal emergency aid has been approved after Hurricane Michael.

Gov. Nathan Deal received notice from the White House that Georgia’s request for federal aid has been approved, including individual assistance for six counties impacted by Hurricane Michael. Thirty-one counties have been approved for public assistance. Deal made the request for federal assistance on Friday, Oct. 12, and the request was granted on Sunday, Oct. 14.

“On behalf of Georgians, I’m tremendously grateful for the immediate attention and extremely quick assistance President Trump and the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) have given Georgia’s requests for federal aid, as well as the president’s concern for our citizens,” said Deal. “I look forward to welcoming President Trump to Georgia this afternoon as federal, state and local partners continue our efforts to work together and rebuild communities devastated by Hurricane Michael. This declaration will provide much-needed assistance in the most heavily impacted areas to help families and businesses recover as quickly as possible. I am also encouraged by the hard work and dedication of everyone involved in response and recovery efforts, including emergency management officials, first responders, recovery teams, law enforcement and citizens helping their neighbors.”

Individual assistance makes funding available to individuals and households in the six following counties: Baker, Decatur, Dougherty, Early, Miller and Seminole counties.

FEMA and the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency are continuing to conduct individual assistance assessments in other counties, and the president may add additional counties for designation based upon the assessments. Individual assistance may include grants for temporary housing and home repairs, low-cost loans to cover uninsured property losses, and other programs to help individuals and business owners recover from the effects of the hurricane.

Public assistance includes assistance for emergency work and debris removal. The 31 counties approved for public assistance include: Baker, Bleckley, Burke, Calhoun, Colquitt, Crisp, Decatur, Dodge, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Emanuel, Grady, Houston, Jefferson, Jenkins, Johnson, Laurens, Lee, Macon, Miller, Mitchell, Pulaski, Seminole, Sumter, Terrell, Thomas, Treutlen, Turner, Wilcox and Worth counties.

All counties in Georgia are eligible to apply for assistance under the Hazard Mitigation Grant Program, which provides assistance for actions taken to prevent or reduce long-term risk to life and property from natural hazards.

Residents and business owners who sustained losses in the designated counties can begin applying for assistance online here or by calling 1-800-621-FEMA(3362) or 1-800-462-7585 (TTY) for the hearing and speech impaired. The toll-free telephone numbers will operate from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m., seven days a week.

Gov. Deal also issued Executive Orders allowing Miller and Seminole Counties to delay opening early voting due to storm damage and closings, and extending the voter registration deadline for the November election in Clay, Grady, Randolph, and Turner Counties due to storm closings.

The Statesboro Herald reports that parts of South Georgia still suffer cell phone outages and gasoline shortages.

The Augusta Chronicle reports on the start of early voting.

Six-hundred and thirty-six voters cast ballots on the first of 20 advance voting days available to Richmond County voters.

“When we opened our doors (Monday) at 8:30 a.m., approximately 30 people were in line waiting to vote and there was a steady stream all day,” said Lynn Bailey, executive director for Richmond County Board of Elections. “Citizens have been enthusiastic about this election for months now.”

Bailey said other evidence of interest in the Nov. 6 midterm elections shows in the number voting by mail and in voter registration, which hit a record high of 122,939 for the election.

The first-day turnout is far higher than the 187 Augusta voters who voted on the first day of advance voting in the May 22 election, but lower than the 1,110 who cast ballots on Day 1 of early voting in the 2016 presidential contest.

Richmond County turnout on the first day trailed that in Columbia County, where 1,380 cast ballots on “an exciting and busy day” of early voting, said Nancy Gay, executive director of elections for the county.

The Georgia Supreme Court declined to stop two refedendums that would split the City of Stockbridge and form a new City of Eagles Landing, according to the Henry Herald.

The Supreme Court ruled 7-2 to allow the referendum to proceed on Monday, the day that early voting got underway in Henry County.

Justices Harold Melton, David Nahmias, Keith Blackwell, Michael Boggs, Nels Peterson and Charles Bethel, along with Superior Court Judge Jeffrey Kight of the Waycross Judicial Circuit who was serving in place of Justice Sarah H. Warren, ruled against staying the referendum, while justices Robert Benham and Carol Hunstein dissented.

Democrat Stacey Abrams will speak in Brunswick today, according to The Brunswick News.

Dalton City Council voted to approve the sale of the historic depot, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Brunswick City Commissioners will discuss proposed changes to the alcohol ordinance, according to The Brunswick News.

The Muscogee County Board of Education approved a package designed to help hire more bus drivers, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Effingham County State Court Judge Ronald K. “Ronnie” Thompson received the Champion of Justice Award from the Georgia State Council of State Court Judges, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Two Savannah-Chatham County middle schools have been added to the state’s turnaround program, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Board president Jolene Byrne said Georgia’s Chief Turnaround Officer Eric Thomas encourages schools identified as “turnaround eligible” to work with the state on ways to improve the schools.

“It’s important for the community to understand what this process is,” Byrne said. “We are not being forced into a partnership. We could be, but thankfully that’s not the relationship that we have.”

Schools are deemed “turnaround eligible” based on the state’s College and Career Ready Performance Index scorecard. Schools that receive CCRPI scores in the bottom 5 percent in the state are placed on the turnaround eligible list, said Rosalie Tio, director of policy, research and evaluation for Georgia. Three years of CCRPI scores are considered.

In addition to Hubert and Mercer middle schools, Brock and Shuman elementary schools and Savannah High School’s School of Liberal Studies are turnaround schools.

15
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 15, 2018

Smith Wesson Dachshunds

Smith and Wesson are 8-month old bonded male Dachshunds who are available for adoption from Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue in Acworth, GA. They are good with kids, other dogs, and cats.

Snickers Forgotten Paws

Snickers is a 7-month old male Shepherd & Corgi mix puppy who is available for adoption from Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue in Acworth, GA.

Snickers is a super happy, active boy. He loves to run and play and will need an ACTIVE HOME with time to work with and train a puppy. He has always had other dogs to play with and he loves it. It is a great way to burn off his energy. He loves other dogs but when he sees dogs he doesn’t know he wants to get to them. Just to sniff, but his excitement and how fast he runs at the other dogs can upset them. We are working on this and maybe if he found a home that took him on walks and dog parks to help socialize him, he would be great. He has always lived in a foster home with other dogs and comes and goes from the kennel house so he can attend adoption events. He adjusts to the changes and is so smart.

Snickers is crate trained and housebroken. He needs to be crated when no one is home b/c he is still a puppy and will chew on things. We keep him stocked with tons of bones and toys to keep him occupied. At night he sleeps free. He lays on his dog bed or under the bed.

Virginia Forgotten Paws

Virginia is a 7-month old female Pibble puppy who is available for adoption from Forgotten Paws Pet Rescue in Acworth, GA.

Virginia loves to carry toys around when she is happy. We call them her “babies”. Her mother does the same thing. Virginia is always happy. She wiggles her butt and loves to play with the other dogs. When I let her out of her crate she runs to find a baby and happily carries it outside to go potty. She is also that dog who will carry her baby on walks if you let her. LOL

She also loves to cuddle. She will climb up on the bed and lay her head in my lap to take naps and get cuddles. She is great with dogs of all sizes. She is a little skittish of new dogs and will bark at them at first, all while moving backwards away from them. It takes her a little time to adjust so she will need someone with patience. Once she knows the dogs she just wants to play. Honestly, Virginia just needs to get out and be socialized more outside of her comfort zone. Sadly, since she has been raised at the kennel house, we just don’t have the manpower to do this.

15
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 15, 2018

Friday, October 15, 1582 marked the beginning of the adoption of the Gregorian Calendar – the previous day was Thursday, October 4th.

George Washington left New York, the nation’s capitol, on October 15, 1789, embarking upon the first Presidential tour to New England.

The world’s first combat submarine, CSS Hunley, sunk during testing in Charleston Harbor on October 15, 1863.

The 20th Amendment to the United States Constitution too effect October 15, 1933, changing the Presidential term of office to begin and end on January 20th following each quadrennial election and Senate and Congress to January 3d following biennial elections, both from March 4th.

Billy Graham launched his national ministry on October 15, 1949 in Los Angeles, California.

On October 15, 1966, President Lyndon B. Johnson signed legislation creating the United States Department of Transportation. May God have mercy upon his soul.

Interstate 285 around Atlanta was completed on October 15, 1969.

The Omni opened in Atlanta on  October 15, 1972, as the Hawks beat the New York Knicks by a score of 109-101.

Former Secretary General of the Communist Party of the USSR Mikhail Gorbachev won the Nobel Peace Prize on October 15, 1990

Georgia-born Clarence Thomas was confirmed as an Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court on October 15, 1991.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

GOP Slate Landscape

President Donald J. Trump will visit Georgia today to view hurricane damage, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The White House says President Donald Trump plans to visit Georgia on Monday to survey damage caused by Hurricane Michael.

Trump, who will also visit Florida, will be accompanied by first lady Melania Trump. The White House isn’t identifying areas the president will visit.

From the AJC:

Trump spoke with Gov. Nathan Deal on Saturday to discuss recovery efforts. The president “expressed his concerns and said the federal government is fully available and committed to helping state and local agencies,” the White House said.

“People have no idea how hard Hurricane Michael has hit the great state of Georgia,” Trump tweeted Friday. “I will be visiting both Florida and Georgia early next week. We are working very hard on every area and every state that was hit – we are with you!”

Trump declared a state of emergency in Georgia on Wednesday, a designation that allows the state to tap into federal money, debris removal and other services to supplement local cleanup and rebuilding efforts.

Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Black took an aerial tour of the damage earlier Sunday.

U.S. Agriculture Secretary Sonny Perdue and Georgia Agriculture Commissioner Gary Black met with farmers, according to the Cordele Dispatch.

U.S. Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue and Georgia Commissioner of Agriculture Gary Black met with area farmers on Sunday afternoon at the Cordele Farmers

Sec. Perdue, a former two-term governor of Georgia, told those gathered at the market, “I don’t want to make false promises or get anyone’s hopes up. We are just now learning the extent of the damages and we want to hear your concerns.”

Expectations for area row crops and specialty commodities like pecans were good just 10 days ago. Many growers were looking at bumper crops for this year.

Now losses for some producers could reach as high as 85 percent.

Early voting begins today for the November 6 General Election, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

There are federal, state and local races on Coweta ballots, as well as several ballot questions, including five proposed constitutional amendments. Senoia voters will also decide whether or not to allow Sunday alcohol sales to begin at 11 a.m. instead of the current 12:30 p.m.

Absentee voting looks to be quite popular for this election – there has been a surge of absentee voting applications coming into the Coweta Voter Registration Office.

As of Friday afternoon, the office had already mailed out 1,818 absentee ballots – and gotten 693 returned, said Coweta Elections Superintendent Jane Scoggins.

Two years ago at this time, for the presidential election, her office had received “maybe 600 applications at the most,” Scoggins said. For the May 2018 primary, there were fewer than 300 applications received by the start of early voting.

Scoggins thinks one reason for the dramatic increase in absentee ballot requests is that some organizations are sending applications to voters. The applications are pre-filled, and the voter only has to sign and mail it. “People think it looks official so they sign it and they send it in,” Scoggins said. Because multiple organizations are sending out the applications, some people may receive more than one. If more than one application is submitted, only one ballot will be mailed to an individual voter.

If you get an absentee ballot in the mail but prefer to vote in-person, simply bring the ballot with you to the early voting locations or to your polling place on election day. The absentee ballot will be canceled, and you can vote on the electronic voting machine.

From the Statesboro Herald:

In Bulloch County, the state and county ballot also includes a countywide referendum for a five-year extension of the existing Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax, expected to raise $62 million for projects of the county and the four towns. Statesboro, meanwhile, has a “Brunch Bill” referendum, on a separate city ballot, to move the start time that alcoholic drinks can be served in restaurants on Sundays up from 12:30 p.m. to 11 a.m.

But the statewide ballot presents five proposed amendments to the Georgia Constitution and two statewide referendums. Some could have statewide impact, but two of the questions would have no direct effect in Bulloch and neighboring counties.

Beginning Monday, in-person early voting will be available statewide for 16 days, including 15 weekdays and one Saturday.

Governor Nathan Deal announced on Friday that the Technical College System of Georgia will create an Aviation Academy in Paulding County.

[T]he Technical College System of Georgia (TCSG) will establish an Aviation Academy to operate at Silver Comet Field at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport. Chattahoochee Technical College will oversee operations and build a new facility to house the Aviation Academy, where students will train in aviation mechanics and maintenance.

“Here in the No. 1 state for business five times over, we are strategically building upon the economic assets that set us apart from other states and investing in academic resources to produce a highly skilled workforce,” said Deal. “With an investment of approximately $35 million, Chattahoochee Tech’s Aviation Academy at Silver Comet Field is yet another example of a partnership between the state and local levels creating a resource that will benefit both the economy of the local community and that of our entire state.

“Aviation industry leaders including Delta Air Lines, Gulfstream and Pratt & Whitney call Georgia home or have had major operations in our state for decades, and air traffic in Georgia continues to rapidly increase thanks to the world’s most-utilized airport, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport. To remain a suitable home for employers such as these and to connect Georgians with high-paying, quality jobs, we are investing in aviation mechanics and maintenance training through TCSG, which has a proven record of success in providing specialized training.”

With the new facility at the Paulding County Northwest Atlanta Airport, Chattahoochee Tech will offer FAA-certified programs to earn an Aviation Maintenance Technician – Airframe technical certificate of credit (TCC), which allows a student to become certified in all parts of an aircraft except the engine, and the Aviation Maintenance Technician – Power Plant TCC, which certifies a student in all aspects of the engine of an aircraft. Additionally, Chattahoochee Tech will offer diplomas and associate of applied science degrees in Aviation Maintenance, both of which include airframe and power plant training. The HOPE Career Grant funds tuition for eligible students studying aviation through TCSG.

Deal was joined by TCSG Commissioner Matt Arthur, Chattahoochee Technical College President Dr. Ron Newcomb, Paulding County Commission Chairman Dave Carmichael, Paulding County commissioners and members of the Paulding County legislative delegation at the Paulding Northwest Atlanta Airport for the announcement. Paulding County donated the land that will house the Aviation Academy.

Georgia First Lady Sandra Deal visited her 900th school since Gov. Deal took office.

“My goal has been and continues to be encouraging children to want to learn to read,” said Mrs. Deal. “I plan to continue my visits to schools as long as I have the opportunity to serve and I hope to visit many of the schools I have not yet been to. Reading is the gift that keeps on giving and education is essential for any student to achieve lifelong success. Knowledge is power, and when we teach students to love reading at an early age, we give them the confidence to acquire that power for the rest of their lives.”

As a former teacher of 15 years in Georgia public schools, Mrs. Deal is dedicated to promoting statewide childhood literacy. In total, Mrs. Deal has completed 900 school visits in all 159 counties and all 181 public school districts during her time as Georgia’s first lady.

“Early in Gov. Deal’s administration, Mrs. Deal quickly set a high standard of work ethic among the staff,” said Chris Riley, Gov. Deal’s chief of staff. “As a passionate advocate for student achievement, Mrs. Deal cares for each of the students she meets and she has inspired countless young people to love reading. Come Jan. 14, 2019, I would not be surprised if Mrs. Deal has visited 1,000 schools across Georgia.”

When visiting a school, Mrs. Deal typically meets with the office staff, reads to a class of students, recognizes educators and discusses the importance of childhood literacy. From Oct. 1-5, Georgia observed Georgia Pre-K Week, during which time Mrs. Deal visited 24 schools. She has visited as many as eight schools in a single day.

Mrs. Deal is a co-chair of the Georgia Literacy Commission, which hosts a series of symposiums to examine and improve low literacy rates. She also plays a significant role in “Read Across Georgia Month” during March and has partnered with the Get Georgia Reading Campaign, an initiative that aims to have all of Georgia’s students reading on grade-level by the end of the third grade.

Republican Secretary of State Brian Kemp fired back at Stacey Abrams over allegations of voter suppression, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Kemp campaign is returning fire with charges of a “manufactured … crisis” and a “publicity stunt” as early voting ramps up before one of the premier matchups nationally in the Nov. 6 midterm elections.

Abrams told CNN on Sunday that Kemp is “eroding the public trust” because his office has held up 53,000 new voter registration applications, questioning their legality under Georgia law. She’s called for Kemp to resign as chief elections officer.

Any voter with a legitimate state-issued ID who filled out the registration form by the deadline, he said, would have no problems, and he rejected any claims that a significant number of would-be voters might have to cast provisional ballots that ultimately aren’t counted.

Kemp discussed the 53,000 “pending” voter registration applications with the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“They should go rally all the 53,000 people and tell them to go vote because they can,” Kemp said. “All they’ve got to do is show their photo ID and they can vote.”

But Kemp disputed the claims that he is suppressing votes while he explained how the affected Georgia residents can cast ballots in the general election.

“First of all, it is a completely manufactured story,” Kemp said. “Every single one of those people can vote, just like you if you’re registered. They just … go down to the polling location, show their photo ID and they can vote. If you look back at about this time in 2016, and this time in 2014, these same groups did the same type things.”

Another issue Kemp answered questions about during his visit was the use of foreign language ballots. Gwinnett County is the only county in Georgia that is currently mandated by the federal government to provide election materials in English in Spanish.

The county has to provide the dual language materials, including registration forms and ballots, because the number of voters in the county whose primary language is Spanish reached a threshold set by the U.S. Census Bureau.

“I believe that most of those folks that are citizens and that are voting can deal with the English-only ballot,” Kemp said. “If they can’t, they certainly need to be able to do that. You know, this is our country and they should be able to do that. I know that’s been frustrating but (Gwinnett) really didn’t have any choice because if they hadn’t done it, they would get sued.”

From the Valdosta Daily Times:

Kemp stopped by Valdosta Sunday afternoon and called the story a “manufactured headline.”

He said his office is only following a state law passed in 2017 known as the “exact match” law. It requires information on a voter’s registration application to exactly match information on file with the Georgia driver’s license agency or the Social Security Administration.

“You know the only thing those people have to do to go vote? They just have to show up, show their photo ID and go vote,” Kemp said. “That’s what every other Georgian has to do. That’s state law, and for them to blame me is outrageous.”

Kemp redirected the blame back on Abrams’ canvassers, who go door to door registering people to vote.

He said her canvassers are not filling out the paperwork correctly, making it impossible for election officials to verify who they are, he said.

“She’s blaming me for a problem that she created,” Kemp said. “We had a record number of people on our voter rolls. I don’t think they mentioned that in their lawsuit.”

“This is a politically motivated, manufactured story, and we will prevail in court,” he said.

Democrat Stacey Abrams will speak in Statesboro on Tuesday, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Democrat Sarah Riggs Amico is under fire over lawsuits over the family company she led, according to the AJC.

Current and former employees of the truck-hauling business headed by the Democratic nominee for lieutenant governor are suing the company and a supervisor, alleging an environment of racial hostility.

Ten employees, all but one of them black, filed a lawsuit in April against yard supervisor Kevin Tumbleson, Auto Handling Corp. and Jack Cooper Transport Co. The Democratic nominee, Sarah Riggs Amico, is the executive chairwoman of Jack Cooper and touts her business experience in her campaign.

In the lawsuit, 10 current and former employees working at a company location in Indiana allege that Tumbleson and other supervisors and employees discriminated against black employees and promoted white employees more quickly.

“Mrs. Amico has based her campaign on her leadership of this company,” Duncan spokesman Dan McLagan said. “Employing an openly racist and sexist supervisor long after being sued over his behavior means she was either an incompetent leader, overstated her role, or she just didn’t care, none of which are acceptable.”

Joshua Silavent of the Gainesville Times looks at the complexity of school safety.

Law enforcement certainly doesn’t want to deter students from reporting potential threats or criminal activity, but there is a balance they must identify, as well.

“While the (Hall County) Sheriff’s Office takes reports of threats on social media seriously, it’s important for citizens to understand that rumors spread quickly on the platforms, whether accurate or not,” Derreck Booth, spokesman for the Sheriff’s Office, told The Times in a statement. “Of course, if students see a threat or other potential criminal activity on a social media platform, they’re urged to report it to their (school resource officer) and school officials.”

In the most recent incident, Schofield said, rumors morphed over the course of a few days into something unfounded. It was like a game of “telephone” where the story changes each time it’s told to someone new.

“Given the change in times, and the use of social media and technology, we’ve kind of adapted things to include (social media education),” said Sgt. Kevin Holbrook, spokesman for the Gainesville Police Department. “The new generation has kind of grown up behind a screen name.”

The Sheriff’s Office also takes a proactive role in educating students about online behavior through a 10-week Internet safety and cyberbullying program for fifth-graders in the county’s elementary schools.

Curt Yeomans of the Gwinnett Daily Post looks at Constitutional Amendments on the November ballot.

Three amendments involve authorization for the state to create a business court, a trust fund designed to benefit parks, wildlife habitats and water quality, and a tax subclassification and grants to encourage working forest conservation and sustainability. Another amendment would establish rights for crime victims during the judicial process.

One other amendment would spell out new rules for how education special purpose local option sales tax referendums can be called and how the proceeds would be distributed in counties that have more than one school system.

Republican State Senator Ben Watson faced Democratic challenger Sandra Workman in a public forum, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Glynn County Board of Elections will meet tomorrow, according to The Brunswick News.

Gwinnett Republican Commissioners Lynette Howard and John Heard are addressing transportation issues in their reelection campaigns, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Howard said she is running for another term on the commission because there are several projects that she wants to finish. She sees water innovation as the biggest issue facing the county right now.

“We must address providing safe, clean water for 1 million people with minimum impact to our environment while dealing with the ever increasing influx of complex medications,” she said.

Howard pointed to the Water Innovation Center that county leaders broke ground on earlier this week as one way to address the issue, but water is not the only issue she believes the county must grapple with in the years to come.

She also pointed to integrated transportation as something that Gwinnett must address as it inches closer to becoming the state’s most populous county.

“We all need goods to move fluidly for business and for our consumers,” Howard said. “We have to get people to their jobs. We also have an independent elderly population that may not be confident to drive and needs a way to get groceries, be with friends or see a doctor.”

The City of Rome is considering banning pedestrians and bicyclists from the Veterans Memorial Parkway, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The City of Columbus has posted a job notice seeking a new Clerk of Council, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus Riverwalk‘s last two sections are nearing completion, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Some Tybee Island residents have raised safety concerns over a casino boat, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“My biggest concern is that that boat is going to hit that bridge. That boat is so big and that opening under the bridge is so small,” said Tybee resident Laura Schulz.

“After (Hurricane) Matthew and (Hurricane) Irma we couldn’t come back onto the island and no one could leave until the federal inspectors came to inspect the bridge and in both cases it was two to three days for the federal inspector to get here.”

Schulz is one of more than 790 people who have signed an online petition created on Moveon.org to protest the boat, which is owned by Cruises to Nowhere, LLC. On Thursday the residents submitted multiple pages of information, which outlined their concerns, to Tybee Island City Council. No votes were taken and there was no formal discussion from council members.

In August, representatives from Cruises to Nowhere petitioned the Tybee Planning Commission for approval of a site plan for a small office and parking spaces at 3 Old Highway 80 for the 135-foot boat to run off-shore gambling cruises. The item was tabled after the commission found that the plan was incomplete.