The blog.

16
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 16, 2019

Peabody Camden

Peabody is a young male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

I think everything is fun, interesting and meant for play, especially you. Anything you do, I’ll want to do too.  With my own brand of surprises, life with me will keep you constantly on your toes, and the fun is guaranteed. Recommend children 8 years and older.

Carter-Rea Camden

Carter-Rea is a male Catahould Leopard Dog mix who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

Shy yet charming canine searching for a patient owner with a relaxed lifestyle. Looking for gentle guidance to help me come out of my shell.  Treat me sweet and kind and I’ll blossom. Recommend children 8 years and older.

Clementine Camden

Clementine is a young female Pit Bull Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

16
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 16, 2019

On July 16, 1790, Congress declared Washington, DC the new capital city.

Georgia Congressman Carl Vinson set a new record for longevity in office on July 16, 1963, having served 48 years, 8 months, and 12 days since his election in 1914. Vinson’s record held until 1992 and his tenure is now sixth-longest.

On July 16, 1914, Asa Griggs Candler, retired President of Coca-Cola, wrote his brother Warren, who was a Bishop in the Methodist Episcopal Church, a letter offering one million dollars and 72 acres of land in Atlanta for the church to establish a new university in the East.

The United States performed the first test of an atomic bomb on July 16, 1945 at the Trinity site in New Mexico.

Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer, director of the project, watched the mushroom cloud rise into the New Mexico sky. “Now I am become death, destroyer of worlds,” he uttered, reciting a passage from an ancient Hindu text.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp yesterday announced Walt Davis as the State Business Court Judge, according to GPB News.

Walt Davis, a partner at Atlanta firm Jones Day, has been tapped to head up the new statewide business court. Georgia voters approved the court last November and the legislature codified it with bipartisan support.

Davis’ bio says that he specializes in “securities litigation, shareholder disputes, and corporate governance matters and regularly counsels boards of directors and senior management in connection with governmental and internal investigations.” It goes on to tout “significant experience” handling insider trading, accounting, and corporate complaince.

Kemp said that Davis stood out from the many recommendations he received for this position.

“His name was the one that I kept hearing from people that are most trusted in this field,” Kemp said. “And with over 30 years in the private sector, I know firsthand how important a business friendly legal environment is to the prosperity of any business.”

From the AJC:

Davis said he wants to model Georgia’s initiative after Delaware and others with similar courts.

“I see this as an opportunity to be a litigants’ judge,” he said in an interview. “I know the demands of big-ticket litigation. The electronic discovery involved. All of this results in stress for the lawyers and a lot of time and money for the clients. I see this as a real opportunity to help.”

Under the law, the state court will launch in January but won’t start taking cases until August 2020. It would handle some of the state’s more serious business matters but will leave smaller disputes, such as lawsuits over landlord-tenant relations and foreclosures, to local courts.

“My job is to primarily call balls and strikes, to be fair and impartial. The outcome of a particular case can so often be tied to how a case is handled day in and day out,” he said. “We have the opportunity to help the lawyers get past some of those smaller grievances that tend to bog us down.”

The idea for a state business court was long pushed by former Gov. Nathan Deal and his advisory council to quickly resolve complicated business cases through a dedicated court. Supporters also said it could help entice more large corporations to set up shop in Georgia.

Davis said the court would help Georgia “fix a hole in our swing” by giving businesses, particularly those outside of Atlanta, a new outlet to resolve disputes. That was also a focus for Kemp, whose campaign hinged on huge support from outside metro Atlanta.

Former United States Senator Sam Nunn (D) has endorsed Carolyn Bordeaux in the Democratic Primary for the 7th Congressional District, according to 11Alive.

Bourdeaux, the 7th District Democratic nominee in 2018, came within a hair’s breadth of winning that district in the last race, losing by only 419 votes against four-term Republican incumbent Rob Woodall.

Following his victory, Woodall announced in February 2019 that he would not be seeking another term in Congress, leaving the field wide open for the 2020 race. As of this point, at least five other Democrats and nine Republicans have made announcements about running for the seat.

“I applaud your determination to bring your ideas, your energy and your values to the governance arena. Washington needs leaders with fresh ideas who reject the hyper-partisan environment – in which many campaigns – in one way or another curse the darkness rather than light a candle,” Nunn said.

Nunn’s support comes on top of other notable Georgia residents who have endorsed Bourdeaux’s bid, including current U.S. representatives John Lewis (D-5th) and Hank Johnson (D-4th), former Ambassador Andrew Young, former Gov. Roy Barnes, former U.S. Sen. Max Cleland, and former Democratic Congressional nominee in the 6th District, Jon Ossoff.

Democrat Sarah Griggs Amico has formed a committee to explore a campaign for United States Senate, according to the AJC.

The logistics executive, who ran unsuccessfully for lieutenant governor in 2018, launched her exploratory committee as she lines up strategists and makes other behind-the-scenes move to prepare for her bid.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution previously reported she’s in talks with pollster Cornell Belcher and the Perkins Coie law firm to advise her potential campaign. She is also likely to hire several former Stacey Abrams aides.

Democrats consider Georgia a must-win to flip control of the U.S. Senate, but the field has been slow to develop. Abrams and other high-profile Democrats have passed on a run, leaving only two candidates so far in the race: Former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson and Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry.

While Abrams has said she’ll stay out of the race, Amico would likely use her 2018 strategy as a blueprint if she runs. That means a focus on healthcare and voting rights – and a concerted effort to appeal to minorities and first-time voters.

The Democratic Party of Georgia will aim to win municipal seats this year, according to the AJC.

The party is devoting more resources to contest municipal races this year even though those contests are nonpartisan. It plans to target elections in at least 50 counties and 100 cities across the state.

State Sen. Nikema Williams, the chairwoman of the state Democratic party, announced the initiative at a town hall meeting last week.

Her reasoning: Candidates might not have a D or R by their name, she said, but locals often know “who is a Democrat and who is not.”

“And we’re not going to support Republicans,” said Williams, “because they use these as stepping stones.”

“Contest every race,” said Williams. “We’re doing a pitch to get Democrats to run for municipal races. You don’t have to have a D or an R beside your name. When I walk into a grocery store, I don’t have a D by my name, but I carry my Democratic values with me.”

State Rep. Bill Werkhiser (R-Glennville) continues working on legislation to bring transparency to the EMS selection process, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

A push to require more transparency from ambulance providers in Georgia stalled earlier this year but the measure’s last-minute collapse has drawn renewed attention to what proponents say is a broken emergency medical services system.

“In what other world can you be a provider and then sit on a board that chooses the provider?” Werkheiser said.

Werkheiser is pushing for changes that would make clear the 10 regional EMS councils and their subcommittees must abide by the Georgia Open Meetings Act and require the local panels to publish data showing how long patients had to wait for help to arrive. Vendors would also have to register as lobbyists.

Werkheiser said he hopes to address the issue of long wait times – or, in some cases, no response at all – in some communities by requiring increased transparency and accountability within the system.

He said he has tried to weigh proponents’ demands for change against the providers’ patient privacy concerns and their pursuit of efficiency, which often means having to take non-emergency calls that may leave a crew tied up when an emergency call comes in.

The Rome News Tribune looks at the campaign disclosures of local elected officials.

Financial disclosure reports were filed last week by the Floyd County delegation: Sen. Chuck Hufstetler, R-Rome; and Reps. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, and Mitchell Scoggins, R-Cartersville.

• Hufstetler reported one contribution, $2,800, from the Georgia Medical Political Action Committee. He paid out $6,229 in expenses, leaving a cash balance of $162,329 in his account.

• Dempsey reported $9,650 in contributions and $11,706 in expenditures, leaving $54,424 in her campaign account.

• Scoggins was sworn in Jan. 14 following a hotly contested special election to fill the House District 14 seat. His latest report shows he paid off the remaining $11,256 of his campaign debt.

The freshman legislator took in $2,350 in contributions and ended the reporting period with $4,662 in the bank. The next round of reports run through Dec. 31.

• Lumsden spent slightly more than he took in during what was essentially a three month period. His contributions totaled $5,202 and expenses were $4,134. He ended the reporting period with $37,297 on hand.

Democrat Jill Prouty joined the race for State House District 71 in a special election, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The special election to fill Stover’s unexpired term will be Sept. 3. As a special election, there will be no party primary and all candidates will run together. Qualifying dates for the election will be set by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office.

Prouty joins four Republican candidates: Sam Anders, Nina Blackwelder, Marcy Sakrison and Philip Singleton.

Prouty has spent over 20 years working at the Peachtree City Library. “Librarianship is a rewarding career. I get to serve people from all walks of life every single day,” Prouty said. “Public libraries are truly the great equalizer in our society.”

Prouty is an advocate for issues related to mental health and suicide prevention. As a survivor of suicide (her mother’s) Prouty said she understands the struggle of families whose loved ones suffer from mental illness and sees a desperate need for in-patient mental health services in the Coweta/Fayette area.

If elected, Prouty said she pledges to work for Certificate of Need reform to help bring additional mental health and addiction resources to the district.

Georgia State Transportation Board Chair Ann R. Purcell spoke in Statesboro last week, according to the Statesboro Herald.

State Transportation Board Chair Ann R. Purcell, in Statesboro last week, predicted a possible fall groundbreaking for a $260 million project that will replace the Interstate 16 interchange on I-95 and widen both sides of I-16 from there to Savannah.

“I’m hoping that maybe in September or October we will have the big groundbreaking on that,” Purcell said. “That will be a lighted interchange, the gateway to the rural area, the gateway for economic development.”

She has served since 2013 as one of the 14 members of the Transportation Board, elected from each of Georgia’s congressional districts by members of the state Legislature. The board oversees the work of the Georgia Department of Transportation, which has more than 4,000 employees, through Transportation Commissioner Russell R. McMurray, who was hired by the board in January 2015.

“When I have a groundbreaking, this fall, or the latter part of that, in wintertime, it’s going to be when I have some backhoes behind me, because I want you, the public, to see action that is going on at I-16 and I-95, when we clear those old-timey cloverleaf ramps in that interchange there, and we’re going to have a first of its kind. It’s going to be a turbine-look.”

The Dougherty County Commission has proposed higher property tax rates, according to the Albany Herald.

The Dougherty County Commission tentatively approved on Monday in a 5-1 vote a measure to increase the property taxes it will levy this year by .59% over the rollback millage rate for the countywide district.

Commissioners also announced their intention, also by a 5-1 vote, to increase the property taxes they will levy this year by .13% over the rollback millage rate for the special services district in the unincorporated part of Dougherty County.

District 5 Commissioner Gloria Gaines was the dissenter on both measures. District 6 Commissioner Anthony Jones was absent.

While the rates are unchanged, the county is still expected to advertise a tax increase.

“The valuation of the taxable real property in Dougherty County has increased due to reassessments,” officials said in a statement about the increase. “Because of the increase, the County Commission is required by state law to advertise it as a ‘tax increase,’ even when the millage rate is the same.

Augusta Mayor Hardie Davis will participate in the Bloomberg Harvard City Leadership Initiative, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The program helps mayors advance critical priorities in their cities. Davis will join the third cohort of 40 mayors invited from around the world to participate in a three-day training session with the Harvard Kennedy School, Harvard Business School and Bloomberg Philanthropies, according to a city release.

“This program is about leadership, innovation and synergy,” Davis said in the release. “Augusta has all the elements. I’m excited to learn how to bring focus and shine a light on a path that creates better opportunities for all our residents through job creation, housing and transportation.”

The yearlong program helps guide mayors through a series of courses to foster innovation and collaboration, increase positive public engagement and use data to drive decision-making, according to the city. The experience has been beneficial for past participants to understand complex issues and implement solutions in their communities, according to the Bloomberg Harvard Program.

Statesboro will welcome new City Manager Charles Penny with a meet-and-greet this afternoon, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Sixty local residents have applied to serve on the committee overseeing the Whitfield County Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST), according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The members of the Whitfield County Board of Commissioners and the Dalton City Council have daunting tasks.

Together, they have received approximately 60 applications from individuals hoping to represent them on an advisory committee that will make recommendations for the projects that would be funded from a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) that is expected to be put before county voters in either the May 2020 general primary or the November 2020 general election. They will have to narrow that down to 13 committee members and two alternates — 10 members from the county and three from the city — before the committee’s first meeting, which is planned for August on a date that hasn’t been determined. The committee will have a total of 16 members and the two alternates.

Each of the five county commissioners will appoint two committee members. The City Council as a whole will appoint three. Each of those bodies will appoint one alternate. Each of the county’s small cities — Cohutta, Tunnel Hill and Varnell — will appoint one person each.

The Floyd County Elections Board announced changes in the voter rolls, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Floyd County has 54,794 active registered voters this month – 400 fewer than in June.

But the decrease is “statistically insignificant,” according to Chief Elections Clerk Robert Brady.

“School’s out, people are moving. We expect to see an increase in September,” Brady told members of the Floyd County Board of Elections.

Brady said 3,144 “no-contact notices” went out to Floyd County voters in the latest review and 1,055 came back as undeliverable to the address on file. While state law prohibits the post office from forwarding election information, 299 of the returned cards had change-of-address stickers on them.

The Habersham County Commission voted unanimously to place a $31.7 million dollar jail bond referendum on the November 5, 2019 ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

Northeast Georgia Medical Center Lumpkin opened this morning, according to AccessWDUN.

“This hospital first opened in 1976 and experienced ups and downs throughout the years,” said Dr. Donna Whitfield, chief of Medical Staff at NGMC Lumpkin. “When it closed last year, however, we lost an invaluable healthcare resource. I’m overjoyed to see it open again, and so are my patients. People in Lumpkin County and the surrounding areas now have a hospital they can be proud of and trust again.”

NGMC Lumpkin offers an emergency department, inpatient care and supporting imaging, pharmacy, lab and other services, according to press information from NGMC. Complete emergency services are provided 24/7/365 by the same group of physicians that care for emergency patients at other NGMC hospitals in Gainesville, Braselton and Winder. The new hospital hosted a Community Open House last Saturday offering the public a chance to tour the facilities.

“It took close partnership between Northeast Georgia Health System, the Board of Regents, the University of North Georgia and our local elected officials to save this hospital from the fate of other rural hospitals across the nation,” said state Senator Steve Gooch, a Dahlonega resident and former executive director of Lumpkin County’s Development Authority. “I’ve supported this effort from the beginning, and I look forward to working alongside NGHS to build a better future for our community.”

“Having NGHS step in to protect our hometown hospital is a true blessing that will save lives in Lumpkin County,” said J.B. Jones, Lumpkin County’s sole commissioner from 1973 to 1996 and a driving force behind the original hospital opening in 1976. “I want to encourage people to come to the hospital for care when they need it because the more we use the hospital – the more likely it is to grow and thrive.”

Opportunity Brunswick, an economic development program, enters its second stage, according to The Brunswick News.

Travis Stegall, director of the Brunswick Economic and Community Development Department, said that a website has been created to provide valuable information for citizens and potential investors.

Stegall made the presentation at a special called planning meeting to learn about the status of Opportunity Brunswick and to discuss what city commissioners learned at the recent Georgia Municipal Association convention in Savannah.

He described the website as a “one-stop shop” for people to get data about the city and look a different locations in the city waiting for development.

Stegall said the city is working hard to get its share of a pool of money to help victims of Hurricane Irma to repair their homes. The city plans to bring in a third-party dedicated to helping residents with disaster relief once the funds have been released to the city.

The Garden City Empowerment Center opened on Monday, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Empowerment Center marries efforts by state Rep. Carl Gilliard, D-Garden City, and St. Joseph’s/Candler in a partnership to help working families out of poverty and put them on a path to sustainability.

Gilliard, who founded the Feed the Hungry program in 2009, said the center and its partners were “giving poverty a pink slip.”

“We’re going to change the narrative on poverty,” he told an audience at the Augusta Road site. “Our focus is sustainability.”

“We see a lot of sick patients at St. Joseph’s and Candler hospitals,” he said, calling those folks “trailing indicators for other things that have happened in their lives… and it could happen to any of us.”

As part pf the system’s commitment, St. Joseph’s/Candler is providing and renovating space for the center located next door to the system’s Good Samaritan Clinic. Gilliard will bring a number of different local and state agencies that can help people gain skills or find resources to help with employment, education or certificates.

Chatham County Mosquito Control announced that mosquitoes infected with West Nile virus have been identified, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The announcement came after several samples of mosquitoes from a midtown location —defined as the area from Victory to DeRenne and from Interstate 516 to Wilmington Island — tested positive for the virus last week.

“Once the virus is present in our local mosquito population, we know it’s just a matter of time before the activity becomes more widespread,” said Dr. Lawton Davis, Health Director of the Coastal Health District in a press release.

Chatham County Mosquito Control Director Ture Carlson told the Chatham County Commission Friday that the 27 positive samples collected by the end of June far outstripped the 10 positives seen at the same time in 2011, which was a very active year that resulted in 10 human cases of the virus in Chatham County.

“It’s pretty widespread from north to south, east to west,” Carlson said in a subsequent phone interview. “Everybody needs to take precautions now.”

 

Twin Pines Minerals, an Alabama company, wants to mine for heavy metals in a 2400-acre parcel in Charlton County, near the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge, according to GPB News.

The proposal from Twin Pines Minerals called for mining on more than 2,414 acres of land in Charlton County. The land is home to gopher tortoises and frogs, which are endangered, but Twin Pines said it’ll move them.

The application from the company said about 522 acres of wetland could be temporarily impacted as the company would have to dig and excavate for draglines. Officials have said they would put dirt back and replant if their proposal gets approved.

Another 65 acres could be permanently destroyed as new structures would be built on the wetlands.

From the Savannah Morning News:

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers posted a joint public notice with the state of Georgia on Friday indicating it had received a Clean Water Act permit application from Birmingham, Alabama-based Twin Pines Minerals. The corps is asking for public comments on the permit.

In the application, the company indicated it plans to extract “high quality heavy mineral reserves” for “export by truck, rail and eventual barge to national and international customers.”

“Mineral sand-derived products, particularly those containing titanium dioxide and zirconium, are in high demand worldwide in the pigment, aerospace, medical, foundry, and other industrial products,” the document states. “Elemental components, chiefly titanium, are used as the white pigments. Titanium dioxide is nontoxic and has replaced lead as the predominant pigment in paints and coatings.”

Twin Pines is proposing to operate its mining facility in stages on about 19 square miles along a ridge of land bordering the refuge, digging to variable depths that will average 50 feet below the land surface on two of the three tracts and 25 feet below the surface on the third. The company is proposing to backfill and grade the mined land within about 30 days following excavation with replanting during the appropriate planting season.

15
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 15, 2019

Wolfman BARC

Wolfman is a 2-year old male Black Mouth Cur mix who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Sweetness covered in fur. Gets along with dogs, cats, kids. Obsessed with human affection. Timid and shy in new situations. Learns well but needs consistency and patience. Not house or crate trained.

Kreature BARC

Kreature is a young male Chihuahua and Dachshund mix (Chiweenie) who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

Kreature is looking for his forever home. This around one year old Chihuahua/Dachschund mix would make a spunky little companion for any family. He gets along well with other dogs, cats and older kids.

Kreature has a timid side and will need a family that is willing to give him time, but once he knows that he is safe….watch out because the mad licker appears! He is house and crate trained but not a big fan of car rides. He is an active fella that will brighten up any mood with the wag of his tail.

Fabiana BARC

Fabiana is a female Collie mix who is available for adoption from BARC Humane Society in Valdosta, GA.

15
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 15, 2019

On July 15, 1864, Sherman’s army began crossing the Chattahoochee River and would take the better part of three days to complete the crossing. Georgia Public Broadcasting has a series on Sherman’s Georgia campaign, and you can watch this week’s episode here.

Major General George Stoneman’s cavalry had come to the area south of Atlanta. On July 15, 1864, Stoneman wrote from camp near Villa Rica, Georgia.

As I indicated to you in my last note, we completed the bridge (Moore’s), and were ready to cross at daybreak yesterday morning, but before we essayed it a report came from Major Buck, in command of a battalion seven miles above, that the enemy had been crossing above him on a boat or a bridge, and that his pickets had been cut off.

Colonel Biddle, who was left with his brigade at Campbellton, reports the enemy quite strong at that point, with two guns of long range in each of the two redoubts on the opposite bluff, which are opened upon him whenever any of his men show themselves.

I was very anxious to strike the railroad from personal as well as other considerations, but I became convinced that to attempt it would incur risks inadequate to the results, and unless we could hold the bridge, as well as penetrate into the country, the risk of capture or dispersion, with loss of animals (as I could hear of no ford), was almost certain.

On July 15, 1870, Georgia was readmitted to the United States, with the signature by President Ulysses Grant of the “Georgia Bill” by the U.S. Congress.

On July 15, 1948, President Harry Truman was nominated at the Democratic National Convention in Chicago to run for a full term as President of the United States.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp appointed Jeffery O. Monroe as a Judge for the Superior Court of Macon County through December 31, 2020. Gov. Kemp also appointed Jeffrey A. Watkins as a Judge for the Superior Court of the Cherokee Judicial Circuit for the same term. Kemp appointed former Democratic State Rep. Margaret Kaiser to the Board of Juvenile Justice for the Fifth Congressional District.

Governor Kemp will announce at 3 PM today at the State Capitol his first appointment to a new state business court, according to AccessWDUN.

Governor Brian Kemp plans to announce his nominee for the first statewide business court judgeship during a ceremony at the Georgia State Capitol Monday afternoon.

In a press release the governor’s office said the new judgeship is part of Amendment 2, passed by Georgia voters during the general election in November, 2018.

The release explained that the language for the amendment was codified during the 2019 General Assembly, where it received bi-partisan support.

Kemp’s nominee will need to be approved by both chambers of the state legislature.

Gov. Kemp spoke Sunday at the the 45th annual Georgia Association of Educational Leaders summer conference at Jekyll Island, according to The Brunswick News.

Kemp gave the opening address for the conference, which is taking place at the Jekyll Island Convention Center until Wednesday.

“Folks, we have never ever had anybody who spoke up for public eduction the way that Brian Kemp does,” said Jimmy Stokes, outgoing executive director of GAEL.

Kemp emphasized education priorities throughout his campaign for governor, and he has made good on several proposed changes since taking office. His team led legislative efforts that resulted in a $3,000 pay raise for teachers across the state, as well as $30,000 grants for every public school to put toward campus safety and security.

While campaigning, he also heard many concerns, he said, about state standards that teachers are required to use. Kemp said he plans to soon name a citizens review panel that will participate in the standards review process.

“This will help put education back in the hands of the teachers and the parents,” he said

A teacher shortage crisis is another growing concern among education leaders across the state, Kemp said.

“We’ve heard all the daunting statistics,” he said. “In Georgia, 44 percent of our educators are leaving the profession within the first five years of teaching.”

The Washington Post ranks David Perdue’s U.S. Senate seat as the 8th most likely to flip in 2020, according to the Roanoke Times.

Georgia is another traditionally Republican state where a star Democratic candidate recently reshaped strategists’ views. Even though she didn’t win, Stacey Abrams’s gubernatorial race revealed the partisan makeup of Georgia, shifting it slightly less red. In addition to winning a majority of younger and nonwhite voters, Abrams won a majority of women.

Democrats tried and failed to recruit Abrams to run for Senate. As such, Republican Sen. David Perdue has a long list of Democrats vying to challenge him for in his first Senate reelection campaign. Perdue raised nearly $2 million this spring while one top Democratic candidate, former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson, raised just half a million.

The Federal Aviation Administration will decide whether to accept the Camden Spaceport’s application by December 16, 2019, according to the AJC.

“We are now at T-minus 1, a final decision by the FAA is the only outstanding item,” said Steve Howard, Spaceport Camden’s project lead and the county’s administrator. “When we submitted our application to the FAA earlier this year, we were optimistic about a licensing determination in 2019, with (this) news we anticipate achieving that goal.”

Camden County is pursuing the development of the spaceport on a 12,000-acre facility in Kingsland. Camden officials have spent the past few years trying to secure a license from the FAA to move forward with the project.

Camden officials were expecting the FAA to determine by the end of last year whether it would give the project the launch site operator license it needs to continue with the project.

Glynn County Commissioners will hear about a new tourism improvement district and additional taxes, according to The Brunswick News.

Golden Isles Convention and Visitors Bureau President Scott McQuade said that proceeds from a tourism improvement district could go to pay for various infrastructure improvements, signage, gateways and beautification in specific areas of the county.

“In the past, we’ve considered the bed tax may be the only way to fund these improvements, but what I’m going to talk about Tuesday is the opportunity to look at the tourism improvement district as another potentially viable source for funding some infrastructure improvements, and specifically some tourism infrastructure improvements,” McQuade said.

Similar to a tax allocation district, in a tourism improvement district tax money is collected from specific types of businesses in a limited area and used for improvements only within that area.

“That district assesses itself and uses its funds to beautify main street or something along those lines,” McQuade said. “It’s very similar to that, but it works specifically for tourism improvements and would be something that’s levied upon a specific category of business. In other words, not all businesses have to join the assessment. It could be specifically hoteliers for instance.”

“The primary reason (to use the tax district over increasing the bed tax) would be because there’s a lot more resources specifically for infrastructure improvements, where the bed tax tops out at a pretty shallow funding level for improvements,” McQuade said.

The Floyd County Commission asked staff to recommend regulations for “tiny houses,” according to the Rome News Tribune.

Tiny homes are single-family residences that are usually 400 to 600 square feet in size. Some are built as recreational vehicles while others follow the building codes for homes.

“Give us the pros and cons on it. Look at it the same way you’re looking at hobby farms and wedding venues,” Commission Chair Scotty Hancock told Rome-Floyd Planning Director Artagus Newell.

None of the land-uses Hancock cited are currently allowed in residential areas, although there numerous lots of more than 20 acres outside the city of Rome.

“Some areas would like to see a tiny home on a lot than maybe a mobile home,” Commissioner Rhonda Wallace said.

Newell said interest has been growing in tiny homes over the past decade and the structures could help address the affordable housing shortage. Many elements, however, are prohibited by the Unified Land Development Code.

Cherokee County and its municipalities will enter mediation in August over a Service Delivery Strategy Agreement, according to the Tribune Ledger News.

Service Delivery Strategy, or SDS, is a set of agreements designed to make sure residents aren’t overtaxed for a duplication of county and city services. Georgia requires counties and cities to form these agreements once every 10 years.

Negotiations between the cities and county started early last year, but they missed an initial state deadline of Oct. 31 to reach agreement, and requested an extension from the Georgia Department of Community Affairs. The local governments received an extension through June 30, and are in non-compliance while another extension request is pending.

The cities, represented by attorney Andy Welch of Smith, Welch, Webb and White, argue that the current strategy has many city residents paying too much in county property taxes for services that primarily benefit unincorporated county residents, citing reports Cherokee County has submitted to the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

A mediation, which will be a public meeting with elected officials from Cherokee County, Canton, Holly Springs, Mountain Park, Waleska and Woodstock, is scheduled for Aug. 6, though a time and location haven’t been set yet. Former Georgia Supreme Court Chief Justice Norman Fletcher is to serve as the mediator.

City and county officials were optimistic about the mediation.

“I’m positive that at least we’re making some steps toward an agreement, whatever that means,” said Holly Springs City Manager Rob Logan.

Dr. Richard McCormick is running for the 7th District Congressional seat in the Republican Primary, according to the Forsyth County News.

McCormick, an emergency medicine physician at Gwinnett Medical Center, is one of nine Republicans who have declared their intention to run for the seat in 2020 and is promising to bring his conservative beliefs to the campaign trail.

On the issues, McCormick has said he supports the FairTax initiative, the Second Amendment and is pro-life.

McCormick served for more than 20 years in the Marine Corps and Navy as a pilot and emergency medicine physician, serving in combat zones in Africa, the Persian Gulf and Afghanistan.

He is a graduate of Morehouse School of Medicine, completed his residency in emergency medicine through Emory University while training at Grady Hospital and received an MCA from National University.

McCormick will face longtime state Sen. Renee Unterman (R-Buford), former Home Depot executive Lynne Homrich, former Atlanta Falcons player Joe Profit, Air Force veteran Ben Bullock, businessman Mark Gonsalves, co-founder of the Conservative Diversity Alliance Jacqueline Tseng, former education executive Lerah Lee and former college professor Lisa Noel Babbage.

State Representative John LaHood (R-Valdosta) received the Outstanding Legislator of the Year award from the Coalition of Advocates for Georgia’s Elderly, according to the Albany Herald.

“Rep. LaHood has proven he’s a devoted, knowledgeable and effective advocate for Georgia seniors,” Vicki Vaughn Johnson, chairwoman of the Georgia Council on Aging, said. “We are so pleased to be able to recognize him for his efforts.”

LaHood, a senior living owner and operator, received the Legislator of the Year award before a crowd of about 120 during CO-AGE’s annual meeting in Macon.

Sea turtles continue to break nesting records on the Georgia coast, according to The Brunswick News.

Several days ago, Georgia topped its all-time nesting record, and as of late Friday afternoon, there were 3,550 nests. That’s 259 more than the 2016 record.

And hatchlings are already heading out into the ocean.

“It’s been a really hot summer so far, so we have a lot of nests that are actually emerging quite a bit quicker than that right now,” said Mark Dodd, head of the state Department of Natural Resources sea turtle program. He was speaking at one of One Hundred Miles’ Naturalist 101 presentations. “The sex of the hatchling is actually determined by the temperature of incubation. Sea turtles don’t have sex chromosomes — or, at least, we haven’t found them — and so their sex is determined by temperature.”

Different areas across the state are in the process of breaking their individual nesting records. Cumberland eclipsed its highest number Wednesday with the discovery of nest No. 868, according to the data on seaturtle.org. At press time Friday, there were 892 nests. Little Cumberland had 106 nests in 2016, and as of Thursday was as 123. Jekyll Island had 182 nests as of Friday, topping 2016’s 170. And it’s not over yet.

“They generally lay between one and eight nests a season — the average is about five and a half or six nests a season,” Dodd said. “They’re like clockwork — every 12 days, they’re on the beach, once they start nesting. They lay approximately 115 eggs per nest, but can be variable — the most I’ve seen this year is 185 a nest, and the lowest about 55.”

“They’re really one of the iconic species of the coast,” Dodd said. “They define who we are, they’re a part of who we are. If we lose them, which we were really concerned we were going to do in 2004, we lose a part of ourselves.”

From the Statesboro Herald:

So far this year, researchers and volunteers in those three states have cataloged more than 12,200 nests left by loggerheads, a threatened species protected under the Endangered Species Act. That’s already far ahead of the 11,321 nests in the previous highest count three years ago.

Loggerhead nesting along Georgia’s 100-mile (161-kilometer) coast hit its low point in 2004 with fewer than 400 nests.

So far this year, more than 3,500 loggerhead nests have been recorded on Georgia’s beaches, surpassing the state’s 2016 record of 3,289. Mark Dodd, the state biologist who heads Georgia’s sea turtle recovery program, said he expects the final count to reach 4,000 nests by the end of August.

The busiest U.S. state for sea turtle nesting by far is Florida, which had a record 122,707 loggerhead nests in 2016. The numbers are so large that Florida doesn’t keep a running count during the nesting season. Final counts are typically completed in the fall.

12
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 12, 2019

Coco BFAC

Coco is an adult female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Atlanta, GA. Look at that gorgeous smile!

Turtle BFAC

Turtle is a young male Hound mix who is available for adoption from Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Atlanta, GA.

Princess BFAC

Princess is a female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Atlanta, GA.

12
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 12, 2019

John Percival, an Irish Member of Parliament who served as a Georgia Trustee, was born on July 12, 1733.

In the British House of Commons, Percival served on the committee on jails with a young member named James Oglethorpe, who shared his idea about a new colony in North America for the deserving poor. Percival, like Oglethorpe became a Georgia Trustee, and during Georgia’s first decade, with Oglethorpe in America, Percival worked harder than anyone to champion Georgia’s cause and secure its future.

On July 13, 1787, Congress enacted the Northwest Ordinance, in which states ceded some claims to the west, and a process was set up for admitting new states.

Happy Birthday to the French, who on Sunday celebrate the anniversary of Bastille Day, 14 July 1789, when citizens stormed the Bastille, a prison in Paris.

On July 14, 1798, the Alien and Sedition Act became federal law.

The first three acts took aim at the rights of immigrants. The period of residency required before immigrants could apply for citizenship was extended from five to 14 years, and the president gained the power to detain and deport those he deemed enemies. President Adams never took advantage of his newfound ability to deny rights to immigrants. However, the fourth act, the Sedition Act, was put into practice and became a black mark on the nation’s reputation. In direct violation of the Constitution’s guarantee of freedom of speech, the Sedition Act permitted the prosecution of individuals who voiced or printed what the government deemed to be malicious remarks about the president or government of the United States. Fourteen Republicans, mainly journalists, were prosecuted, and some imprisoned, under the act.

The United States Army Medal of Honor was created on July 12, 1862 when President Abraham Lincoln signed legislation authorizing the award.

The first U.S. Army soldiers to receive what would become the nation’s highest military honor were six members of a Union raiding party who in 1862 penetrated deep into Confederate territory to destroy bridges and railroad tracks between Chattanooga, Tennessee, and Atlanta, Georgia.

On July 14, 1864, General Sherman issued Special Field Order 35, outlining the plan for the Battle of Atlanta.

On July 13, 1865, James Johnson as provisional Governor of Georgia, issued a proclamation freeing slaves and calling an election in October of that year to elect delegates to a state Consitutional Convention. Johnson had previously opposed Georgia’s secession and after the war was appointed Governor by President Andrew Johnson.

Savannah, Georgia-born John C. Fremont, who was the first Presidential nominee of the Republican Party in 1856, died in New York City on July 13, 1890.

Lt. Frank Reasoner of Kellogg, Idaho died in action on July 12, 1965 and was later posthumously awarded the first Medal of Honor to a United States Marines.

On July 14, 1976, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Democratic nomination for President at the Democratic National Convention.

On July 12, 1984, Congresswoman Geradine Ferraro (R-NY) joined the Democratic ticket with Presidential nominee Walter Mondale. Ferraro was the first woman and first Italian-American woman nominated for Vice President. Mondale and Ferraro lost the General Election in the largest ever Republican landslide to Republican President Ronald Reagan and Vice President George Bush.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon announced he will not run for another term, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Max Bacon, who has served as Smyrna’s mayor for 34 years, will not seek another term — that’s the bombshell news with which Bacon ended what will be his final annual State of the City address.

“Sometimes it’s just got to come to an end, and when to pick that time is tough, but I’m good — I’m good with it,” Bacon said through tears at the close of his address. “(This choice) is for myself and the folks of Smyrna. I want them to have the best, the best leadership. … I’m OK with it.”

Qualifying for the Nov. 5 election begins Aug. 19 and ends Sept. 4.

The Democratic National Committee is training field operatives in Atlanta, according to The Atlantic.

[I]nside a university building on Luckie Street, 300 college juniors were learning how to listen.

The lesson, called “Getting to Know the Community,” is part of a new training program from the Democratic National Committee that teaches young people, mostly people of color, how to be campaign organizers. Called Organizing Corps 2020, the eight-week course is designed to school 1,000 college juniors from seven battleground states across the country. The DNC has high hopes for the student trainees: Come summer 2020, it hopes to put them to work for the eventual Democratic presidential nominee.

DNC Chairman Tom Perez has suggested that the party has learned its lesson from 2016, especially when it comes to black voters, whom critics allege the DNC has undervalued and underinvested in. “We lost elections not only in November 2016, but we lost elections in the run-up because we stopped organizing,” Perez told a mostly black crowd at a fundraiser in July 2018 for the DNC’s I Will Vote initiative, which focuses on registering new voters. “African Americans—our most loyal constituency—we all too frequently took for granted. That is a shame on us, folks, and for that I apologize. And for that I say, It will never happen again!”

Organizing Corps, then, could have two uses for the DNC: It could help demonstrate to voters and future leaders of color that the party values them, while benefiting the party’s candidate in the short term. The program, which is run in conjunction with the Collective PAC, an organization working to elect black candidates, and 270 Strategies, a progressive consulting firm, has recruited students from a dozen cities in Michigan, Wisconsin, North Carolina, Pennsylvania, Florida, Arizona, and Georgia—all swing states with sizable minority populations that Democrats think they can flip from Trump next year. All of the students will be paid $4,200 for the eight-week training, with the expectation that, after they graduate in 2020, they’ll return to their home region to work on behalf of the Democratic nominee.

These face-to-face, community-based conversations—what campaign operatives call “relational organizing”—are what the DNC says it wants to promote with the Organizing Corps program. Its goals, especially its intentional recruiting of young people of color, have won the support of many of the party’s emerging leaders, including the former Georgia gubernatorial candidate Stacey Abrams, whose nonprofit organization is working to sign up more than 800,000 unregistered voters in the state, and Andrew Gillum, the former Florida gubernatorial candidate, who told me in an interview that the training is “long overdue.”

The New Georgia Project – one of Democrat Stacey Abrams’s political organizations – is holding a “game night” in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The group founded by former Democratic governor candidate Stacey Abrams has a goal of increasing the number of 18- and 19-year-old registered voters by 18,000 as part of its “Agenda for Young Georgians,” according to news releases.

The New Georgia Project “wants to underscore the importance of the upcoming 2020 election, especially with young voters in all areas of Georgia.” The Augusta event will be its first game night outside of Atlanta, a release said.

Former Fulton County Commissioner Gordon Joyner says the Attorney General’s Office has a conflict of interest, according to the AJC.

An Atlanta lawyer spent more than a year trying to get public records from a state agency, turning to the attorney general’s office for help enforcing the Open Records Act.

Now, the lawyer is suing the state agency for not complying with the law and the attorneys on the other side of the courtroom are the same people he went to for help: the attorney general’s office.

That’s a conflict of interest and should disqualify the attorney general from representing the agency in the dispute, Gordon Joyner, former head of the state Commission on Equal Opportunity, told a judge on Thursday.

The attorney general’s office argued Thursday that the state has given Joyner all the records it has left that were responsive to his request.

FreedomWorks sent a letter to Governor Brian Kemp asking him to continue the Criminal Justice Reform Commission instituted by former Governor Nathan Deal, according to the AJC.

The letter from FreedomWorks, signed by 10 state and national conservative leaders, urges Kemp to “keep Georgia at the forefront of criminal justice reform” by asking the Legislature to re-up the Council on Criminal Justice Reform next year.

The council was key to former Gov. Nathan Deal’s eight-year overhaul of Georgia’s costly and famously tough criminal justice system.

Those changes have saved taxpayers in prison spending, reduced the number of black inmates to historic lows, and expanded treatment programs for nonviolent offenders.

“The benefit to public safety speaks for itself,” read the letter, which noted that violent offenders now represent 67% of the state’s prison population, up from 58% in 2008. “This means that Georgia is focusing its resources on incarcerating dangerous criminals, as it should.”

Valdosta City Schools will attempt to engage more families of students, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Family Engagement Plan, per federal regulation for Title I districts, is the only truly amended item in the Code of Student Conduct for the 2019-20 school year, and it’s because of parent input, said Dan Altman, city schools federal program director.

The goal of the program, which is funded using Title I funds, is to get families more involved in their childrens’ education.

“Ultimately it boils down to increasing and improving student achievement,” Altman said. “When families are involved in the schools and support the child’s efforts at the school, that increases student achievement and success.”

Former Byron Fire Chief Rachel Mosby alleges in a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission that city officials harrassed her for being transgender, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The city fired Mosby on June 4 citing failing job performance, but her attorney charged that the action was discriminatory based on her gender identity. Mosby, 51, had served as the city’s fire chief for more than 11 years.

In the EEOC complaint, Mosby alleges that she was subjected to harassment and a hostile work environment and was intentionally discriminated against and fired in part because of her sex and gender identity. The complaint was provided to The Telegraph by Mosby’s attorney.

“Her termination didn’t have anything to do with her transgender status,” said Byron Mayor Pro Tem Michael Chidester, who is also an attorney. “It had to do with the dissatisfaction overall with her performance as the fire chief (and) her inability to take proper direction as to the desires of council.”

Mosby identifies as a transgender female. She alleges in the complaint that the alleged discriminatory treatment of her began after she informed city leaders and began to present herself at work as a transgender female in January 2018.

Heard Elementary School in Bibb County will be one of 20 statewide to pilot a new agriculture education program, according to the Macon Telegraph.

“A lot of (students) come from subdivisions and complexes and don’t have any kind of ag,” [ag teacher Carol] Dunn said. “From what I can tell from around here, these kids are anywhere from three to five generations removed from a family farm.”

Agriculture is a subject that “ties into every single thing you teach,” she said. “I can get it into math, science, reading and history.”

Heard Elementary Principal Carole H. Coté said the school applied to the state to be one of the elementary schools to offer the pilot agriculture curriculum.

Rutland Middle School Principal Keith Groeper said the school is on its way to becoming an agriculture STEM-certified school, meaning the Georgia Department of Education would recognize it as a school focused on science, technology, engineering and math involved in agriculture.

Today’s farmers must be able to plot farmland and acreage, fly drones and plot GPS points among other technical skills, he said.

“It’s no longer two farmers fighting over what’s the best cow at an auction,” Groeper said. “It’s now there’s science on which actually is the best cow at the market.”

Glynn County’s Courthouse Space Needs Assessment Committee met with County Commissioners and a Superior Court Judge to begin their work, according to The Brunswick News.

Former Glynn County sheriff Wayne Bennett, general contractor Billy Lawrence, former banker Jack Hartman, architect John Tuten and Ralph Basham, former director of FLETC — the five members of the newly-created Courthouse Space Needs Assessment Committee — met with four county commissioners and Glynn County Superior Court Judge Steven Scarlett on Thursday to get started on the task.

“We have a propensity in Glynn County to do things according to how much money we have, not what we need to do to do it the right way,” said county commission vice chairman Bill Brunson. “I think the courthouse and maybe the 911 Center and some other things are products of that. We said ‘Well, we don’t have enough money so let’s cut this corner and kick the can down the road,’ and here we are.”

County commission chairman Mike Browning said the commission will decide how to proceed based on the committee’s findings — how much to spend on it and whether to include the courthouse expansion on the next special-purpose, local-option sales tax, include it in a later SPLOST or pay for it some other way.

This may be a long-term project, Browning said. It may not be possible to get the whole thing done in one pass and may require multiple SPLOSTs or a bond issue — although he said a bond issue was unlikely.

Red Snapper season begins today in Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

Today marks the first day of the 2019 red snapper mini-season, which lasts through Sunday, then goes again July 19-20. As part of the opening of this highly desired recreational fishery, the state Department of Natural Resources is working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association to, the hope is, get a better idea as to the size of the red snapper population in the South Atlantic.

For this mini-season, there is no size limit, but the bag limit is one fish per angler per day.

The Veterans Curation Program seeks to help veterans find a place in the civilian workforce, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The lab, which opened in 2009, is one of six around the country that help veterans transition into the civilian workforce by teaching them job skills by curating archeological collections owned by the Army Corps of Engineers. New South Associates operates three full service curation programs, including the one in Augusta.

During the five-month program, veterans learn skills such as data entry, photography and other archeological and general skills.

“We hire them and we train them to work here in the lab,” David Howe, artifacts lab manager, said. “During their time here, we help them resume build and network around the city of Augusta and find jobs and cater the resumes to positions and careers they’ll like to do.”

Kelly Brown, lab manager, said the program helps transition veterans just getting out of the military who are not sure what they want to do. A total of 505 have participated in or are currently part of the program, with 89 percent of veterans getting jobs or enrolling in colleges, universities and certified programs after leaving, according to the program.

Operation Southern Shield, a cooperative effort between the Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies, begins July 15, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The third annual speed enforcement campaign is a collaboration between Georgia State Patrol and local law enforcement agencies to crack down on speeders.

Officers in Georgia, Alabama, Florida, South Carolina and Tennessee will target drivers on interstates and other major highways who endanger the safety of others on the road by driving at speeds well above the legally posted limit.

“The mission for us is the same in our neighboring states and that is to save lives on our roads by preventing traffic crashes,” Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety Director Allen Poole said. “Working together in ‘Operation Southern Shield’ has saved lives and we want everyone who is traveling in the southeast to know that if you are driving over the speed limit, you’re more than likely going to get pulled over and handed a ticket.”

State and local officers with 224 law enforcement agencies in Georgia wrote more than 11,000 citations during last year’s Southern Shield and 75% of the citations were issued for speeding. Officers wrote 8,435 speeding citations, 3,070 seat belt citations, 624 distracted driving citations and took 566 suspected DUI drivers off the road in a seven-day period.

The Floyd County Magistrate Court ended a program of appointing Constables, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Floyd County Magistrate Court will end its longstanding tradition of using constables and rely on the sheriff’s office to handle security, warrants, writs and evictions.

Chief Magistrate Gene Richardson signed an order late Tuesday abolishing the three constable positions in his court, effective Sept. 1.

As a constitutional officer, the decision is his by law.

Richardson said Thursday that few Georgia counties the size of Floyd still use constables and he wants to focus solely on judicial matters.

“I’ve been looking at it for about a year,” Richardson said. “The sheriff’s office is a law enforcement agency trained to do all that. We’re a court. The citizens are going to get better protective service this way.”

11
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 11, 2019

Chandler Pregnant Dog Rescue

Chandler is a 5-month old female Feist and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Pregnant Dog Rescue, Inc. in Griffin, GA.

Ellie Pregnant Dog Rescue

Ellie is a 5-year old, 23-pound female French Bulldog who is available for adoption from Pregnant Dog Rescue, Inc. in Griffin, GA.

Ellie prefers to be the center of attention, so homes with no other pets are preferred. She is crate trained very well and seems to be house trained. Ellie is loveable and easy going, loves to meet new people. She rarely makes a sound. This girl is ready to live life as part of a family!! She is spayed and fully vetted.

Eggo Pregnant Dog Rescue

Eggo is a 3-year old female Australian Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from Pregnant Dog Rescue, Inc. in Griffin, GA.

Eggo is a very quiet, calm and gentle dog. She is shy of new people, but she is really submissive and friendly. This girl is just so humble! She is learning a leash as she didn’t know what one was when we rescued her and she was really scared of it. Still needs some leash work. Fenced yard is best. This sweet girl is ready for a life with a family who will spend lots of time with her.

11
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 11, 2019

On July 11, 1782, British colonists including British Royal Governor Sir James Wright, fled Georgia.

Wright had been the only colonial governor and Georgia the only colony to successfully implement the Stamp Act in 1765. As revolutionary fervor grew elsewhere in the colonies, Georgia remained the most loyal colony, declining to send delegates to the Continental Congress in 1774.

Congress ordered the creation of the United States Marine Corps on July 11, 1798, after the Corps was inactive for a period following the Revolutionary War. From 1799 to 1921, Marine Corps Day was observed on July 11, but is now celebrated on November 10, the date of it’s Revolutionary War establishment.

On July 11, 1804, Aaron Burr shot Alexander Hamilton in a duel in Weehawken, New Jersey. Burr was the sitting Vice President of the United States and Hamilton a former Secretary of the Treasury.

After he shot Hamilton, Aaron Burr quickly fled the nation’s capitol, making his way to St. Simons Island, Georgia, spending a month as a guest of Pierce Butler at Hampton Plantation.

Burr was a fugitive, but his killing Hamilton in a duel held a certain justifiable reasoning since dueling was not illegal, though morally questionable, to be sure. According to H. S. Parmet and M. B. Hecht in their Aaron Burr: Portrait of an Ambitious Man, after the duel, he immediately completed, by mid-August, plans which he had already initiated, to go to St. Simons, “an island off the coast of Georgia, one mile below the town of Darien.”

Jonathan Daniels’ “Ordeal of Ambition” handles the situation this way: “With Samuel Swartwout and a slave named Peter (‘the most intelligent and best disposed black I have ever known’), Burr secretly embarked for Georgia. There on St. Simons Island at the Hampton Plantation of his friend, rich former Senator Pierce Butler, he found refuge…” As Georgia Historian Bernice McCullar, author of “Georgia” puts it, Burr was “fleeing the ghost of Alexander Hamilton” when he arrived on the Georgia island.

“Major Pierce Butler,” she relates, “had fought in the British army and remained in America after the war.” He had married a South Carolina heiress, Miss Polly Middleton, and acquired two Georgia Coastal plantations, which he ran like a general storming after the troops. In fact, he was so strict that none of his slaves could associate with any of the others. He also required anyone who visited his plantations to give his or her name at the gate. With this tight security, Burr should have felt safe..

Actually, Butler’s invitation to visit the island fitted the escapee’s plans nicely. Not only was the Hamilton affair a bother, but also Burr needed to get away from a lady by the name of Celeste; however, the real reason, aside from being near his daughter, who was also in the South, was the nearness of the Floridas. No real purpose is given why the Vice-President wanted to spend “five or six weeks on this hazardous and arduous undertaking.”

Daniels underscores that from this St. Simons point Burr could “make any forays into Florida he wished to make. He traveled under the name ‘Roswell King.” After his Florida odyssey, he planned to meet his South Carolina son-in-law “at any healthy point.”

Parts of the Hampton Plantation survive in the form of tabby ruins on St Simons.

Tabby Hampton Plantation TMR_0549 copy

Tabby Hampton Plantation TMR_0524 copy

A house in St. Marys, Georgia bears a plaque stating that Aaron Burr visited there in 1804.

Clark lived in the home from 1804 until his death in 1848. He was appointed in 1807 by then-President Thomas Jefferson as customs collector for the Port of St. Marys, a position he held until his death. The year Clark bought the house, he is said to have provided a temporary hideout to Aaron Burr, who was traveling in the South to evade federal authorities holding a warrant for his arrest after he killed Alexander Hamilton in their infamous duel in July 1804.

Verification of Burr’s stay in St. Marys is hard to come by. But it is confirmed that he stayed on St. Simons Island and Cumberland Island late in the summer after he killed Hamilton. That Burr knew Clark is not disputed. The two attended law school together in Litchfield, Conn., but there is no mention in either man’s records that Burr stayed in the home.

St Marys Aaron Burr Plaque TMR_1465

Aaron Burr House St Marys GA Front Side TMR_1470

Aaron Burr House St Marys GA Front

On July 11, 1877, a Constitutional Convention convened in the Kimball Opera House in Atlanta to replace the 1868 Reconstruction Constitution.

On July 11, 1916, President Woodrow Wilson signed the Federal Aid Road Act, establishing a federal program of paying for highway development.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt accepted the Democratic nomination for a fourth term on July 11, 1944.

General Dwight D. Eisenhower was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on July 11, 1952.

July 11, 1969 was an epic day in rock and roll history, with David Bowie releasing “Space Oddity” and the Rolling Stones releasing “Honky Tonk Women.”

On July 11, 1985, Astros pitcher Nolan Ryan became the first major league player to strike out 4000 batters.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Flags on Georgia state buildings are at half-staff today in honor of Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon, at the order of Governor Brian Kemp.

U.S. District Court Judge Amy Totenberg ruled that Georgia must turn over electronic copies of voting information in a lawsuit, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The ruling came Tuesday in the lawsuit filed by election integrity advocates and voters that challenges Georgia’s election system and seeks statewide use of hand-marked paper ballots.

The plaintiffs’ experts had said inspection of the databases was necessary to begin to evaluate security vulnerabilities and flaws.

Lawyers for the state had argued disclosure of sensitive information in the databases could jeopardize the security of the election system. Totenberg wrote that they provided no evidence of that.

From the AJC:

The review of election management databases is needed to understand what caused problems during November’s heated race for governor between Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams, said Bruce Brown, an attorney for some of the plaintiffs.

Voters reported that voting machines failed to record their choices, flipped their votes from one candidate to another and produced questionable results.

“We can see the system malfunctioning, and everybody knows it is intrinsically vulnerable,” said Brown, who represents the Coalition for Good Governance, a Colorado-based organization focused on election accountability. “We’re trying to learn more about the exact causes of the particular problems we’re seeing in Georgia.”

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger’s attorneys objected to allowing a review of election databases, which have a variety of information including candidate names, party affiliations, ballot layouts and vote counts for each precinct. The databases don’t contain confidential information, Totenberg wrote.

“We are disappointed that Judge Totenberg has ordered us to give sensitive election infrastructure to those who seek to disrupt Georgia’s elections,” said Tess Hammock, a spokeswoman for Raffensperger. “There is no evidence that Georgia’s voting machines have ever been hacked or that the vote count has ever been manipulated.”

Georgia State Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson (D-DeKalb) will not run for reelection, according to the AJC.

Senate Minority Leader Steve Henson, the only white male Democrat in the chamber, said Wednesday that he would not seek re-election to his suburban Atlanta seat in 2020.

Henson survived a primary scare in 2018, when he finished 111 votes ahead of an unknown Democratic challenger, Sabrina McKenzie.

“I’m over 60 now, and I have to attend to some personal matters and my real business. Plus, as minority leader, I need to focus this next year on making sure Democrats pick up seats. And I don’t want to be distracted by my own election,” he said in an interview.

Senate District 41 includes the cities of Stone Mountain and Clarkston in DeKalb County, but also stretches into Gwinnett County, which has experienced a tumultuous change in voting patterns in recent years.

Hispanic voter turnout “surged” in 2018, according to the AJC.

[Univision] found that 135,000 Hispanics voted in the 2018 election, which was headlined by the gubernatorial race between Democrat Stacey Abrams and Republican Brian Kemp. About 56,000 Hispanic voters cast ballots in 2014, according to Univision.

The data suggest Hispanic voters could play a larger role in state politics in the 2020 race. It found turnout increases among Hispanic voters far outpaced those of non-Hispanic voters, particularly among younger voters and independents.

A vigil in Statesboro will highlight concerns for refugees, according to the Statesboro Herald.

The nonpartisan, peaceful gathering is set for 9 to 10 p.m. Friday on the Bulloch County Courthouse lawn, said organizer Cynthia Stewart.

“You read these things (reports on refugee camp conditions) and want to know what you can do,” she said. ”We all feel helpless and want to do something.”

Eduardo Delgado will serve as facilitator for the vigil.

“This is just to pay respect to the children in detention centers, separated from their families,” he said, reiterating, again, that the Statesboro event will be nonpartisan. “We are hoping we can bring people from both sides of the issue.”
Also, the vigil is to remember those whose lives have been lost in their quest to come to the United States, albeit often illegally, he said.

Columbus area local officials are considering how to make the Chattahoochee River safer, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Mayor Skip Henderson on Tuesday convened a task force of public safety officials on both sides of the river to brainstorm suggestions to help prevent another tragedy. Last week, a boy slipped while playing on the rocks at Waveshaper Island the along RushSouth Whitewater Park and fell into the class IV whitewater rapids.

Leaders of Uptown Columbus, Safe Kids Columbus and Whitewater Express made suggestions that sparked debate centered around safety versus business and recreation.

Henderson started the meeting with this caution: “The No. 1 objective from my perspective is not to react in a way that’s so reactionary that we end up over-legislating or doing something that doesn’t really achieve the desired effect.”

Halfway through this year, three water-related deaths have occurred during 2019 in the Columbus/Phenix City section of the Chattahoochee River, between Lake Oliver and Rotary Park, according to the DNR: two drownings and one fatal boating incident with drowning ruled as the cause of death.

There were five water-related deaths there last year, three in 2017, one in 2016, four in 2015, two in 2014 and one in 2013, when the whitewater course opened.

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers will consider removing an underwater feature from the Savannah River near Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Known as “the training wall,” it is a nearly two-mile wall in the river channel closer to North Augusta that was designed to keep the water deeper on the Georgia side when Augusta operated a port downtown. Installed in 1902, it runs from near Eighth Street in downtown to 1,800 feet past the Boathouse.

The wall made a startling appearance in February when the Corps was simulating likely conditions that would result from replacing the downstream New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam with a rock weir fish passage, an idea the agency is still mulling. The simulation dropped the river level a few feet, and the top of the training wall was visible just beneath the surface, causing some to view it as a potential hazard should the river drop that low again.

That sentiment was echoed in a news release from the Corps’ Savannah District.

″(M)any point out that it is an impediment to navigation and that its presence increases the risks to water-borne activities for its nearly 2-mile-long length of the river in the downtown Augusta area,” said Beth Williams, the district’s chief of hydraulics and hydrology.

Bulloch County will open a new senior center by the end of the year, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools is moving forward with a bus hub system, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah-Chatham County public schools is moving forward with plans for a hub transportation program for choice and charter high school students that would eliminate regular door-to-door school bus service for them a year from this fall and require the students to catch the school bus at the nearest regular high school.

The students or their parents would have to drive to the hub stop if they wanted to take the school bus the rest of the way to their choice or charter school. Some students could take the CAT bus to the hub if they chose to.

The presentation was a follow-up to one earlier this year, where the hub plan was discussed as a way to cut about $923,000 from the district’s $627 million annual budget. It also could reduce the number of school buses and drivers the district relies on. A similar plan discussed several years ago was turned down by the school board then after parents complained about the inconvenience.

In February, the school board approved by a 6 to 3 vote the plan to require high school students attending choice and charter schools to meet at a central location, most likely the attendance-zone high school nearest to them, if they wanted to ride a school bus to their schools.

Savannah-Chatham County Public Schools Police Chief Terry Enoch says that security at local schools is improving, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Savannah-Chatham County Public School System is continuing to invest in security measures with new spending on technology and capital improvements.

But human resources in the form of trained school resource officers are at the core of the district’s safety and security program, Terry Enoch, chief of police for the Savannah-Chatham County board of education, said Wednesday in an informal presentation to the school board.

“We’re taking every step we can to make sure our schools are secure and our staff is safe,” Enoch said. “It’s evolved and it’s getting better.”

The district hired and trained 30 school safety officers and 25 school resource officers. About seven vacancies remain, according to Enoch’s presentation.

Macon-Bibb County employees may receive a $1000 bonus, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The proposed $1,000 bonus comes at a time when County Commissioners have wrangled over whether to implement a small property tax increase to cover raises for employees. In this instance, however, the $2.2 million for the bonuses would come from the county’s reserve fund, which is expected to bounce back after taking a severe hit in recent years.

The bonus ordinance will be on next week’s County Commission meeting agenda. It was approved Tuesday by the Operations and Finance Committee.

Employees who have worked at least 30 days for the county would get the bonus on Dec. 20.

Ryan Earnest was elected to chair the Development Authority of Floyd County, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome News Tribune looks at fundraising totals in the 2020 race for Floyd County Sheriff.

Tom Caldwell, Ronnie Kilgo and Dave Roberson are vying to replace Sheriff Tim Burkhalter, who is not running for reelection. Monday was the deadline for candidates to file campaign finance disclosure reports through June 30.

Roberson reported $18,284 in his war chest. Caldwell had $32,290, including a $20,000 loan. Kilgo’s net balance was $4,273 as of Jan. 31.

The qualifying period isn’t until the first week of March 2020, so more candidates may emerge.

The Lee County Road Committee discussed Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) funding and projects, according to the Albany Herald.

“(The T-SPLOST) money is starting to come in, and it looks like about $200,000 a month,” District 2 Commissioner Luke Singletary said. “We’re allocating those funds as they come in to different road projects, whether it be resurfacing or whether that be paving new roads.”

Henry County Commissioners approved a 75/25 split of SPLOST revenues with local municipalities in advance of a referendum, according to the Henry Herald.

The Henry County Board of Commissioners voted to approve the 75/25 revenue split for the proposed SPLOST V referendum at Tuesday’s meeting, but the cities are not on board.

The motion made by Commissioner Dee Clemmons and passed 4-2 by the board called for the 75/25 split and required cities to present their project lists to the county within 10 days.

The 75/25 split would mean the county would receive 75% of the revenue from the SPLOST program, while the four cities — McDonough, Stockbridge, Hampton and Locust Grove — would split the remaining 25% of the revenue.

Based off comments made by city officials from three of the four cities, those cities are not in favor of the 75/25 split.

Hampton City Council voted against merging municipal election polling places with Henry County, according to the Henry Herald.

At a recent Hampton City Council meeting, Tina Lunsford, the director of elections for Henry County, suggested moving Hampton’s polling place from the Fortson Library to Cavalry Baptist Church for those on the north side of town and Berea Christian Church for those on the south side of town.

The council voted 3-3, with Mayor Steve Hutchison casting the tiebreaker vote against the proposal. Errol Mitchell, Ann Tarpley and Willie Turner voted to keep the polling places separate, while Henry Byrd, Stephanie Bodie and Elton Brown voted to align the city’s polling places with the county’s.

The rationale behind the proposal was to prevent confusion between polling places, as both the county and the cities will have elections this year. Henry County will hold an election for voters to decide if they want the SPLOST V sales tax, while the cities will vote on members of their respective city councils.

With the vote cast by the Hampton City Council, Hampton voters will cast their ballots at two separate locations on election day. For the city elections, all voters will cast their vote at the Fortson Library, while voters will cast their ballot for the county referendum at either the Cavalry Baptist Church or the Berea Christian Church, depending on where they live.

10
Jul

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for July 10, 2019

Howie STARS

Howie is a young male Beagle and Hound mix who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA.

Ryker STARS

Ryker is a young male Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA.

Beauty STARS

Beauty is a female Labrador Retriever and American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from STARS Save The Animals Rescue Society of Georgia in Statesboro, GA.

10
Jul

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for July 10, 2019

Millard Fillmore was sworn in as the 13th President of the United States on July 10, 1850, following the death of President Zachary Taylor.

On July 10, 1864, Conferderate forces retreated south across the Chattahoochee and burned the bridge behind them. General Sherman wrote later of the day,

General Garrard Moved rapidly on Roswell, and destroyed the factories which had supplied the rebel armies with cloth for years.

Over General Garrard was then ordered to secure the shallow ford at Roswell and hold it until he could be relieved by infantry, and as I contemplated transferring the Army of the Tennessee from the extreme right to the left, I ordered General Thomas to send a division of his infantry that was nearest up to Roswell to hold the ford until General McPherson could send up a corps from the neighborhood of Nickajack.

General Newton’s division was sent and held the ford until the arrival of General Dodge’s corps, which was soon followed by General McPherson’s whole army.

The Scopes “Monkey Trial” began on July 10, 1925, in which a Tennessee public school teacher was tried for teaching evolution, against state law. Three-time Democratic candidate for President William Jennings Bryan volunteered to help the prosecution, and famed lawyer Clarence Darrow defended John Thomas Scopes.

On July 10, 1985, “Classic“ Coke returned, joining the new formula on store shelves.

The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games broke ground for Atlanta Olympic Stadium on July 10, 1993; after the Olympics, the stadium was modified for baseball and became Turner Field.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A funeral for Hall County Deputy Sheriff Nicolas Dixon is planned for 11 AM Thursday at Free Chapel Worship Center in Gainesville, according to the Associated Press.

Authorities said 28-year-old Hall County Deputy Nicolas Dixon was killed exchanging gunfire with people who crashed a stolen car Sunday night in Gainesville.

The Hall County Sheriff’s Office charged 17-year-old Hector Garcia Solis, who authorities identified as the shooter, with felony murder.

The sheriff says three other suspects have all been charged with being a party to a crime of felony murder.

A candlelight vigil in memory of Deputy Dixon was held last night, according to AccessWDUN.

Nearly 600 people stood quietly Tuesday evening before the main entrance to the Hall County Sheriff’s Office as tribute was made to slain Deputy Nicolas Blane Dixon.

The candlelight vigil wasn’t something planned by the Sheriff’s Office, Public Information Officer Derreck Booth told the subdued gathering; it just happened. “We’d like to thank ‘Gwinnett Backs the Blue’ Facebook group. This was a complete surprise to our agency and our community, and we determined late this afternoon that they were indeed the ones that spearheaded this.”

Booth and Sheriff Gerald Couch spoke of the overwhelming show of support arising from the local community, and said it was only appropriate to allow those affected by the death of Dixon an opportunity to gather and celebrate Dixon’s life.

Couch spoke of how Dixon made a big impact on those with whom he worked, and never hesitated to confront danger when the need arose. “Blane was the type of individual that always was the first in line, and he ran towards danger, and he wanted to stamp out evil. That’s what he did that night.”

Dixon’s father, Freddie, told the crowd that law enforcement had been his son’s lifelong dream. “When he was little…he was always trying to look out for somebody, always trying to find somebody to protect. When he decided to join Hall County…I started saying, ‘Chase your dream.’, and this was his dream job.”

Governor Brian Kemp toured the new Georgia Advanced Manufacturing Training Center in Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“It’s pretty impressive. I think it’s going to help us market the whole area,” Kemp said of the 50,000-sqaure-foot facility, which provides local manufacturers with customized workforce training.

Operated by Quick Start, a division of the Technical College System of Georgia, the center is equipped for a wide range of training, including control systems, networked wireless systems, and automation and robotics.

“… I think this facility just continues to give us something else to talk about and promote that we can offer to really any kind of company that would want to come do advanced manufacturing in Georgia, that this would be a site where we could do the training right here, great logistics and it’s a great site, as well,” Kemp said.

The Pooler center is the fourth Quick Start training facility in the state. Other locations include West Point at the site of the Kia Motors assembly plant. The second is located in Athens, site of a Caterpillar manufacturing facility, and is focused on welding, industrial technology and automation. The third center, in Social Circle, is dedicated to biosciences.

Kemp said the facility is a good thing for smaller companies not only in Chatham County, but the state, who might not have the ability or financial means to send employees long distances to receive the workforce training they need.

“I think it’s a great asset for our state, not just for the (Savannah) area, but the state as a whole,” he said.

Clarkston Mayor Ted Terry announced he will run for the Democratic nomination to lose to Senator David Perdue for United States Senate in 2020, according to GPB News.

The millennial mayor of one of Georgia’s most diverse cities is promising to “bring courage back to Washington” if elected to the U.S. Senate.

Ted Terry has been the mayor of Clarkston, just east of Atlanta in DeKalb County, since 2013 and serves as the state director for the Sierra Club. He has pushed a number of progressive policies, including a $15 minimum wage for city employees, decriminalization of simple marijuana possession and a push to have the city run on 100 percent clean energy by 2050.

“Division is the tool of cowards, and we should reject the politicians who play on our worst fears and turn us against one another,” he said on his campaign website.

While those in Georgia politics may know Terry for his leadership of what’s called “the most diverse square mile in America,” he also made headlines for his appearance on Netflix’s “Queer Eye” show.

I just wonder if the makeover on “Queer Eye for the Straight Guy” constitutes an in-kind donation.

From the AJC:

The 36-year-old Democrat, known to supporters as the “millennial mayor,” said he would use his leadership of Clarkston as a template for his Senate platform: He supports higher minimum wages, stricter clean energy standards, decriminalizing marijuana and more welcoming immigration policies.

“Campaigns are ways we can move the needle on policies,” he told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. “And I’m going to set the marker on what being a progressive in Georgia stands for. I won’t be surprised if the others follow suit.”

Terry is likely to push the field to the left on issues ranging from environmental policy to criminal justice – using polices he’s staked as leader of Clarkston, a DeKalb County town of about 13,000 people that’s so diverse it’s been described as the “Ellis Island of the South.”

Outside of Georgia political circles, he may be better known for recent role on Netflix’s “Queer Eye” show, including a memorable segment when stylists made him shave his unruly “Resistance Beard” – which he started growing after Trump’s victory.

On his appearance in ‘Queer Eye’:

“With being on a reality show, you put yourself in a vulnerable position. If people want to know who I am, watch that 55-minute episode of Queer Eye.”

A political issue for Terry involves two of his potential constituencies in the Democratic Primary. Terry is a former Campaign Director for the Georgia AFL-CIO and current Georgia State Director of the Sierra Club. As far as I know, Georgia’s major unions support the construction of two new nuclear reactors at Plant Vogtle, but the Sierra Club opposes them.

DeKalb County homeowners should see lower property tax bills, according to the AJC.

Various factors in DeKalb County are offsetting the impact that rising property values have on homeowners’ tax bills. They include credits resulting from the new EHOST sales tax and lower property tax rates, which work together to lower the amount residents will have to pay later this year.

Last year was the first year of EHOST, but it was implemented in April so 2019 is the first time this credit reflects a full year of the impact of residents paying more in sales tax to receive a break on property taxes.

DeKalb CEO Michael Thurmond said EHOST will especially benefit elderly residents in older neighborhoods that are rising in popular[it]y and experiencing skyrocketing property values.

The EHOST 1% sales tax [on] everything except food and drugs will result in $119 million in revenue passed on the homeowners. On average, DeKalb residents with homes valued at $250,000 will receive an $889 credit.

Commissioner Nancy Jester, who usually votes “no” on the budget, praised the process that resulted in the EHOST credits and declining tax rates.

Federal authorities seized $80,000 dollars from the campaign account of indicted Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, according to the AJC.

Federal officials seized $80,000 from the campaign account of suspended Georgia Insurance Commissioner Jim Beck, who is accused of stealing from his employer in part to fund his race for office in 2018.

That seizure was contained in a campaign finance report Beck filed Monday with the state ethics commission, paperwork that also showed he was raising big money from insurance interests days before he was indicted.

The seizure is being contested by Beck’s lawyers, and the feds did not close out his campaign account. According to his disclosure, Beck still had $171,000 left in his account as of June 30.

Two lawsuits over absentee ballots in Georgia’s 2018 election have been settled, according to the AJC.

A new Georgia law that prevents absentee ballot rejections has resolved two federal lawsuits over last fall’s election.

The law prohibits election officials from disqualifying absentee ballots because of a signature mismatch or a missing birth year and address. These protections for absentee voting led to the lawsuits’ dismissal.

“The parties agree that the above-cited provisions make further litigation of this matter unnecessary,” according to a joint stipulation for dismissal last month.

[T]he Georgia General Assembly passed House Bill 316 in March, a broad elections bill that replaces the state’s voting machines and makes many other changes to elections.

A Special Election for Fulton County Commission District 6 drew 9 candidates, according to the AJC.

Six of the nine candidates for the District 6 seat on the Fulton County Commission participated in a forum Monday night, where the legacy of Emma Darnell, who held the seat since 1992 and died in May, was a prominent theme.

Joe Carn, Yoshiba Colbert-Bradford, Dr. Sonia Francis-Rolle, Warren C. Head, Rafer Johnson, and Gordon Joyner attended the event sponsored by the South Metro Democratic Women’s Council.

District 6 comprises East Point, College Park, Fairburn, South Fulton, Palmetto, Union City, Hapeville, Chatahoochee Hills and parts of Atlanta.

The election will be Sept. 17. The next District 6 commissioner will serve the remainder of the term and there will be a new race in 2020. The next forum is Aug. 14 at the Cascade United Methodist Church.

I award +3 points to AJC reporter Ayana R. Archie for correct usage of “comprise.”

Four candidates have announced for the September 3 Special Election for State House District 71, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

The dates for candidates qualifying will be set by the Georgia Secretary of State’s Office, according to Coweta Elections Supervisor Jane Scoggins.

The race will be held as special election, which means it will be non-partisan, with no party primary.

There are now four declared candidates for the District 71 seat, all Republicans. Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison and Nina Blackwelder have joined Philip Singleton and Sam Anders in the race.

Sakrison is the daughter of former State and U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland and the wife of Coweta County Superior Court Judge Travis Sakrison.

“The conservative values of this community make this one of the greatest places in Georgia to live, work and raise a family,” Sakrison said. “I’m ready to fight in the Georgia House to keep our community great. For most of my life, my family has worked in the trenches to build and keep a Republican majority, and our state is thriving under conservative leadership. With liberals from around the country trying to fund a Democratic takeover of Georgia, I can’t stand on the sidelines as they seek to impose failed socialist policies on our state. I’m running because I care about the future of our state, our community and my family. If conservatives don’t step up to keep moving us forward, Democrats will take us backward.”

Sakrison said that she will defend Georgia’s pro-life policies and strong Second Amendment rights and will work for less spending, lower taxes, world-class schools and more transportation mobility. Sakrison said she will demand serious efforts to stop the illegal immigration that burdens the state’s taxpayers.

“Between now and Sept. 3, I’ll work tirelessly to earn the votes of my neighbors in this community,” Sakrison said. “I will tell them where I stand, and I’ll listen to their thoughts so that I’m able represent them to the best of my ability in the General Assembly. I’ve watched in horror and disbelief as the national media has given Stacey Abrams a platform to smear our state’s good name with empty claims that are reported as fact. I will stand with Gov. Kemp to defend our state’s well-earned reputation and continue the pro-jobs policies that keep us No. 1 for business and put more money in the pockets of families.”

Floyd County courts will use their old administration system as the statewide computer system remains down, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Ten days after a hacker attack hobbled Georgia’s eCourt case management network, there’s no relief in sight for Floyd County and other jurisdictions that depend on the system.

“Since our IT team still is unable to give us a timeline for eCourt’s restoration, we have advised them to go to a paper system for the time being,” said Bruce Shaw, spokesman for the state’s Administrative Office of the Courts.

Floyd County officials know they’re at the epicenter. Clerk of Courts Barbara Penson said her office had just finished transferring all records to the eCourt system on Feb. 2. The new software, equipment and training was provided free from the state in exchange for being one of the pilot agencies.

“All of a sudden, wham,” Penson said Tuesday. “We came in that Monday morning, the first of July, and nobody could log in … When I finally got in touch with them, the project manager said ‘It’s not good.’”

Penson said her office has started transferring five months worth of case files back to the old, late 1990s-era, Sustain system.

Columbia County Public Schools is recommending the Board of Education continue the same property tax millage rate as last year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Columbia County School District on Tuesday recommended holding its millage rate at 18.3 mills, where it has remained for the past four years.

That doesn’t mean some residents will not see an increase in their property taxes. According to Superintendent Sandra Carraway, some residents might see an increase in property values depending on the tax assessor’s office. With the average home in Columbia County currently valued at $200,000, the estimated increase would be approximately $24 per year.

While the state granted funding for $3,000 raises to certified employees and 2% raises to non-certified employees, some district employees including paraprofessionals and some secretaries and custodians did not qualify. The district opted to pay raises for them out of its general budget. Approximately 90% of the district’s budget is allocated for personnel expenses.

The school board heard the second presentation of the millage rate Tuesday evening. The final presentation and vote will be July 23 at 5:30 p.m. at the board of education office during its regularly scheduled meeting.

The Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted to move forward with a downtown location for a new arena, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Ending almost two years of stalemate, the Augusta-Richmond County Coliseum Authority voted 5-1 on Tuesday to proceed with conceptual design and community outreach on a plan to build a new James Brown Arena on authority property downtown.

“I am very excited that we are going to be able to move forward,” authority Chairman Cedric Johnson said. “We’ve been in a holding pattern for about two years, and that’s a lot of time we’ve wasted by not going forward.”

The project has no funding source and would likely require the authority to borrow in excess of $100 million or draw heavily from sales taxes.

The largest number of voters [in a non-binding August 2017 referendum], 57 percent, voted “yes” for the current downtown site, although Davis later said the results were subject to interpretation.

The Albany Herald looks at local government attitudes toward a citizenship question on the next census.

Vegetable production in Colquitt and Tift counties has drawn an influx of Hispanic residents — both permanent and migrant — over several decades, and a potential undercount of that population concerns elected officials. They fear that if a question about citizenship reduces that community’s participation in the process, they could miss out on federal dollars.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that, as of July 2018, almost 20% of Colquitt County’s population of 45,592 was of Hispanic or Latino origin, and 12% of in Tift County’s population of 40,571. Dougherty County’s Hispanic or Latino population was estimated at 2.9%.

Population drives the distribution of federal funds to state and local governments, so cities and counties with large numbers of Hispanic residents would be most affected if Hispanic participation in the Census declines.

“You could end up being shorted money,” Colquitt County Commissioner Paul Nagy said in a Tuesday telephone interview. “At the same time, you’ve got to provide services. There’s good and bad (with the question). It’s bad because you have people who end up being undercounted.”

Blueberries are the largest cash crop in Georgia now, according to the Gainesville Times.

“July is national blueberry month but that’s not the only reason to celebrate,” says Carin Booth, family and consumer science extension agent for Hall County. “Aside from being naturally low in calories and fat, blueberries are high in Vitamin C and fiber. They’re a great source of potassium and iron, plus they are high in antioxidants.

“Even the berries you see in grocery stores are most likely grown in Georgia,” Carin says. “Just look on the label and you’ll see that most of them have the Georgia Grown logo and are from places in South Georgia like Alma, which is considered the blueberry capital of Georgia.”

South Georgia has the ideal climate and soil conditions for blueberries, but its easy to grow your own back yard berries here in Northeast Georgia. “Blueberries like acidic soil that’s well-drained,” says Nathan Eason, agricultural extension coordinator with White County. “The best approach is to find a sunny spot and then do a soil test to find out whether you need to add fertilizer or other elements specifically to grow blueberries successfully.” The University of Georgia Extension local offices have soil test bags and instructions about how take soil samples. Then the office will send the bag to UGA to be analyzed. You’ll receive a detailed report about the condition of your soil. A general soil test costs between $6 and $8 and the results will be returned in a couple of weeks.

Columbus city government continues considering how to deal with the Government Center, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Columbus mayor Skip Henderson said Tuesday in an interview with the Ledger-Enquirer that he hopes the four options currently being considered for the city’s decaying government center can be cut down to two by the end of July.

“I think you’ll see the city manager’s officer — along with my office — he and I will sit down and review the information that people have given us during these public meetings and probably come in with a couple of recommendations trying to whittle it down to two,” he said. “I’d like for it to.”

Henderson has previously expressed his support for funding the new center through a Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST). He said in previous interviews that the council has expressed interest in asking the public for a new SPLOST when the current education SPLOST ends.

Larry Miller is leading in fundraising for the 2020 election for Mayor of Macon-Bibb County, according to 13 WMAZ.

With the election still nearly 11 months away, Miller, a Macon attorney and school board president, has raised more than $196,000 in cash and has $151,000 on hand.

Larry Schlesinger, a rabbi and county commissioner, has raised more than $76,000 and has around $57,000 on hand.

That’s according to records filed with the Macon-Bibb Board of Elections that cover the first half of 2019.

The report from WMAZ does a nice job of analyzing the campaign finance reports.

In Glynn County, the Brunswick News looks at local candidate disclosures.

Following a pattern from previous elections, District Attorney Jackie Johnson took out a new $125,000 loan Jan. 31, which — outside of congressional or statewide contests — is a staggering amount of money. According to the January 2019 report, she paid $98,984.12 off a previous loan, and per the June 2019 report, earned $127.96 in interest on her campaign account to end the cycle with $125,127.95 on hand.

Glynn County’s superior court judges Robert Guy, Anthony Harrison, Stephen Kelly and Stephen Scarlett are up for re-election next year. Harrison, Kelley and Scarlett all have similar financial activity over the last six months, with is to say barely any. Harrison has more than $7,000 on hand, while Kelley has more than $1,100 and Scarlett has close to $2,900.

That brings us to Guy, who went fundraising at the end of last year and brought in the incredible haul of $82,004. Guy raised more money than any other Glynn County elected official — including state legislators — and has by far has the most on hand, excluding the DA.

Early on, it appears a rematch is in the works in District 179, with 2018 Democratic nominee Julie Jordan mounting a second attempt at unseating state Rep. Don Hogan, R-St. Simons Island. Jordan matched and then beat Hogan in fundraising ability, with the vast majority of those dollars coming from St. Simons Island women.

State Rep. Jeff Jones, R-St. Simons Island, ended 2018 with $21,748.45 in the bank, and that ebbed and flowed a little over the last six months before closing out at $18,244.39 on hand. During this period, and despite being one of the House Republican public opponents of Speaker David Ralston, state industry associations have kept up with contributions that tend to go to allied incumbents.

The Glynn County Board of Elections discussed early voting for upcoming elections, according to The Brunswick News.

The Glynn County Board of Elections discussed opening the early voting polls after regular business hours or on a single Sunday in future elections.

Board Chairwoman Patricia Gibson said voter advocacy group Women’s Voices of Glynn requested the board open the polls on at least one Sunday during early voting to increase access for those who work multiple jobs.

Currently, early voting runs for the 16 days preceding each election day, 15 weekdays and one Saturday.

“We don’t have to make a decision today, though we certainly can if the board chooses, but I wanted to put this on the agenda for us to give some consideration for future elections so we can give staff some direction as they’re planning for early voting,” Gibson said.

Loggerhead turtles set a new record for nesting site on the Georgia coast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

By the time the dawn patrols that scour Georgia’s beaches daily had logged in Tuesday’s numbers, the count was up to 3,405 nests, blowing past the previous season high of 3,289 nests set in 2016.

And they’re not done yet, with nesting that began in late April expected to continue into August. Georgia Sea Turtle Coordinator Mark Dodd, a biologist with the state Department of Natural Resources, previously predicted the final season count could be as high as 4,500.

Loggerheads, which are listed as threatened under the Endangered Species Act, are the most common species of sea turtles in Georgia. Weighing over 300 pounds, the adult females nest every second or third season near the area where they hatched, emerging at night to dig a nest above the high water line or up into the dune face. They lay an average of 120 eggs per nest, making about four attempts each in a nesting year. Hatching occurs after approximately 60 days of incubation, beginning in mid-July and continuing through early October.

On Wassaw, volunteers with the Caretta Research Project have recorded 431 loggerhead nests, almost a third more than the previous high number of 333. Project Director Kris Williams is rethinking her impression that Wassaw’s nesting was tapering off.

Across the coast hatchlings have begun emerging from their nests. They typically incubate 50-70 days. The web site www.seaturtle.org, which tracks nesting numbers and related statistics indicated that 1,479 hatchlings had emerged by Tuesday.

The Fonz actor Henry Winkler will speak in Statesboro at the 13th annual Kids and Community Gala on September 19th, according to the Statesboro Herald.