On January 20, 1788, the First African Baptist Church was established in Savannah, Georgia, one of the first black churches in the United States.
John Marshall was nominated as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States by President John Adams on January 20, 1801.
Robert E. Lee was born on January 19, 1807 at his family home, Stratford Hall, Virginia.
Lieutenant William T. Sherman was ordered to Georgia for the first time in his military career on January 21, 1844.
Delegates to the Secession Convention in Milledgeville voted 208-89 in favor of seceding from the United States on January 19, 1861.
On January 20, 1920, DeForest Kelley was born in Atlanta and he grew up in Conyers. Kelley sang in the choir of his father’s church and appeared on WSB radio; he graduated from Decatur Boys High School and served in the United States Navy. Kelley became famous as Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy in the original Star Trek series.
On January 20, 1928, Franklin Delano Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the tenth time, staying through February 11th. During the visit, he spoke to the Chamber of Commerce of Americus and Sumter County, telling them
“In Georgia the movement towards the cities is growing by leaps and bounds and this means the abandonment of the farms or those farms that are not suited to the uses of agriculture. It means that we will have vacant lands but these can and should be used in growing timber.”
January 20th became Inaugural Day in 1937; when the date falls on a Sunday, a private inauguration of the President is held, with a public ceremony the following day. The Twentieth Amendment moved inauguration day from March 4 to January 20. Imagine six additional weeks of a lame duck President.
Roosevelt was sworn-in to a fourth term as President on Jauary 20, 1945 and died in Warm Springs on April 12, 1945.
On January 20, 1939, Paul D. Coverdell was born in Des Moines, Iowa. Coverdell was one of the key figures in the development of the Georgia Republican Party.
United States Senator and former Georgia House Speaker and Governor Richard B. Russell, Jr. died on January 21, 1971.
On January 20, 1977, former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter was inaugurated as the 39th President of the United States.
On January 21, 1977, President Jimmy Carter pardoned draft resistors from the Vietnam War era and urged Americans to conserve energy.
On January 20, 1981, Ronald Wilson Reagan was inaugurated 40th President of the United States.
On January 21, 1978, the Bee Gees Saturday Night Live album hit #1 on the sales charts, where it would stay for 24 weeks.
Donald J. Trump was inaugurated as the 45th President of the United States on January 20, 2017.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Governor Nathan Deal released a staetment on the passing of former Georgia First Lady Betty Russell Vandiver.
“Sandra and I send our heartfelt prayers to the Vandiver family and mourn with them during this time of loss and remembrance,” said Deal. “As a loving mother of three, a devoted First Lady, and a member of the Senator Richard Russell family, she dedicated much of her efforts to serving the people of Georgia, both during her husband’s term as governor of the state and after their departure from public life. She was instrumental in supporting Milledgeville’s Central State Hospital, Georgia’s first institution for those struggling with mental disabilities. She was also especially helpful to Sandra in the creation of Memories of the Mansion: The Story of Georgia’s Governor’s Mansion, recounting her family’s personal experiences for posterity.”
“Historians and pundits often talk about the sacrifices of a governor, but the truly unsung heroes are the members of the first family, who give of themselves for the betterment of others, often quietly, with dignity, and without the applause they deserve. Betty was a prime example of such a woman of grace and Southern charm. We join her family in honoring her contributions to Georgia and in celebrating the fact that she is finally reunited with her beloved husband.”
When her husband was lieutenant governor from 1955-59, she said, “Ernest commuted to Atlanta from home, staying in Atlanta only a few days a week.”
Moving into the mansion, Betty said, was a change of address, but not really a change in the family lifestyle.
“We lived at the mansion like we lived at home,” Betty said simply.
While it takes a staff of 26 or more to run the Governor’s Mansion these days, back in 1959, it was Betty and a staff of two.
“We didn’t entertain then like they do now,” Betty said. “Our social life was what we made it. There were not as many meetings. Ernie was home most nights for dinner.”
“I didn’t want the children to think they were different,” Betty said. “I was in a carpool. The state patrol did not take my children to school or pick them up.”
In fact, most of the time, Betty said, her children walked home from the public school they attended – Springstreet School – many times stopping by the local drug store before they got home.
“Atlanta was a lot different then.The traffic was not bad, especially at 3 p.m. when the children came home from school.”
[Betty] Vandiver was born in 1927, grew up in Winder and attended the University of Georgia, graduating in 1947 and marrying Ernest Vandiver.
Ernest Vandiver was a Lavonia attorney who got involved in local politics before rising to lieutenant governor, then serving as governor from 1959 to 1963. The couple had three children, who spent some of their early years growing up in the Georgia Governor’s Mansion.
It was a tumultuous time in the nation, and Vandiver, a Democrat who began his political career as a segregationist, oversaw the integration of the University of Georgia. When hard-line segregationist Lester Maddox ran after his term, Vandiver backed the Republican candidate.
Betty Russell Vandiver was from an important political family. She was related to powerful politician Richard B. Russell Jr., a former state legislator, governor and later a powerful U.S. senator. She was active in her husband’s political campaigns, and also helped raise toys yearly for the mentally ill.
Funeral services will be held Saturday at 2 p.m. at Lavonia First Baptist Church, with a private burial in Lavonia City – Burgess Cemetery.
Under the Gold Dome
Today, the Senate convenes at 10 AM, while the House convenes at 10:30 AM.
The House Appropriations Public Safety Committee meets at 9 AM in Room 341 of the State Capitol. The Georgia Bureau of Investigation and the Department of Juvenile Justice are scheduled to present.
Georgia lawmakers broadly agree that it’s time to update adoption laws so that Georgia children can get into permanent loving homes faster.
But in a 40-13 vote on Thursday, Georgia state Senators approved a version of the so-called “adoption bill” that’s different from what the House sent them last year. And Republican Gov. Nathan Deal has serious concerns about the Senate bill.
“This bill is a clean bill focused solely on child welfare while respecting our state agencies like DFCS,” the Georgia Division of Family and Children Services, said its state Senate sponsor, Jesse Stone, R-Waynesboro.
[T]he Senate version contains an amendment that would set up a way for people to transfer their child to someone else’s care for up to a year using power of attorney.
It’s meant for parents who temporarily can’t take care of their kids for reasons that might include deployment or going to a drug rehabilitation program.
Deal vetoed a separate bill proposing that last year.
Just after senators voted to resurrect the idea, Deal tweeted that he commends the Senate for taking action on the bill.
“However, I have serious concerns regarding their version of the bill and am hopeful they will be addressed through the legislative process,” he wrote.
“The governor doesn’t support the bill in its current form,” [Senate President Pro Tem Butch] Miller said.
But Miller added that he’s confident lawmakers can work with members in the House and the governor to get the adoption bill right this time around.
“We’re going to get it done,” he said.
Proponents have said the bill would make adoptions more efficient by, for example, nixing a six-month residency requirement for adoptive parents; allowing birth mothers working with an adoption agency to receive living expenses; and giving birth mothers the opportunity to waive a 10-day period to regain their child once adopted
House Speaker David Ralston said he’ll review the Senate’s version of the bill before deciding how to proceed. If the House, which passed its version of HB 159 on a 165-0 vote last year, disagrees with the Senate’s changes, the legislation would head to a conference committee for negotiations.
“We’re making progress,” said Ralston, R-Blue Ridge. “I commend them for taking out the language that created problems last year, but I am concerned over putting back in a bill that was vetoed by the governor.”
Even if the adoption bill passes, the battle over religious liberty protections seemed more certain than ever to resume.
State Sen. William Ligon, who added the religious protections to the adoption bill last year, said adoption agencies shouldn’t have to choose between closing down or violating their faith.
“We have removed these distractions from the adoption bill,” said Ligon, R-Brunswick. But when he revives religious liberty legislation, “the people of this state will see exactly where their government stands on this issue.”
State and Local
Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) will hold a veterans benefits fair on January 24, 2018 form 3-5 PM at the Brooks Pennington Military Leadership Center, 83 College Circle on the University of North Georgia Dahlonega campus.
Representatives from the Atlanta Regional Veterans Affairs Office, Atlanta Veterans Affairs Health Care System, Georgia National Cemetery, Georgia Department of Veterans Service, Emory Healthcare Veterans Program and Hire Heroes USA will also take part in the event.
U.S. District Court Judge William S. Duffey Jr. announced he will retire from the bench effective July 1, 2018.
Four candidates qualified for a vacant Richmond County District 7 seat.
Elliott Melvin Brown, Annette Turabi, Sarah Bobrow Williams and Charlie Walker Jr. will be seeking the position to represent Garrett, A. Brian Merry and Warren Road elementary schools, John M. Tutt Middle School and Westside High School. The Richmond County Board of Education seat came open when Frank Dolan resigned in October.
The candidate selected in the March 20 special election will serve the rest of Dolan’s term, which ends Dec. 31. Qualifying for the District 7 seat ended noon Thursday.
The last day for voting by mail and advance voting is March 16. All polling locations in District 7 will be open on Election Day from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m.
Qualifying opens on March 5 for three seats on the Decatur County Commission and three seats on the Decatur County Board of Education.
Qualifying will begin that Monday at 9 a.m. and wrap up at noon on Friday, March 9.
The seats open for election on the Board of Education are District 2, currently held by Keith Lyle, District 3, currently held by Winston Rollins, and District 5, currently held by Bobby Barber. These are non-partisan races. Qualifying fees for each of these races is $54.
The seats open for election on the Decatur County Board of Commissioners are District 1, currently held by George Anderson, District 4, currently held by Rusty Davis, and District 6, currently held by Pete Stephens. The qualifying fee for the Board of Commissioners is $216.
The State Court Solicitor General is also open for election. The qualifying fee is $1,498.84.
The Decatur County Board of Commissioner and Solicitor General races are partisan. Candidates will need to decide which party they want to run under.
Hurricane Irma damaged about 30 percent of Georgia’s pecan crop.
Hurricane Irma, downgraded to a tropical storm when it entered the state, damaged about 30 percent of Georgia’s pecan crop, and the storm’s effects could linger into next growing season, according to University of Georgia Cooperative Extension pecan specialist Lenny Wells.
Most of Georgia’s 2017 pecan crop has been harvested, and Wells estimates the state’s yields to be between 90 million and 100 million pounds. The crop looked even better prior to Irma’s arrival in early September 2017, he said, but heavy winds and torrential rain damaged the crop.
“Any time you have quality issues, that tells you those trees were under stress late in the season. We had a good idea, this year, of what that stress was, and it was due to the storm,” Wells said. “That could linger on and affect the crop in the upcoming year. With that being said, I don’t think we’re looking at a really low-yield year.”
Powder Springs City Council “approved a blight tax.”
The council gave its OK to the creation of a “community redevelopment tax incentive program,” which targets owners of property deemed blighted by raising their city property tax bill seven-fold.
Properties would be deemed blighted and could be hit by the “blight tax” if they met two or more of six criteria, such as having an unsafe structure on the property, occurrences of repeated illegal activity on the premises or maintenance that has not met state, county or city codes for at least one year. It would also have to be considered a health or crime hazard, according to the text of the new city ordinance.