On April 15, 1741, the Georgia colony was divided into two counties – Savannah County and Frederica County.
Thomas Jefferson was born on April 13, 1743 in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Jefferson served as Governor of Virginia, United States Secretary of State, delegate to the Second Continental Congress, and Third President of the United States. Jefferson is credited with writing the first draft of the Declaration of Independence.
The first American society advocating for abolition of slavery was founded on April 14, 1775, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Benjamin Franklin would later serve as President of the organization.
On April 15, 1776, the Georgia Provincial Congress issued “Rules and Regulations,” which would serve as an interim state Constitution until the Constitution of 1777 was adopted.
On April 15, 1783, the United States Congress ratified a preliminary peace treaty with Great Britain, which was signed in November 1782.
On April 13, 1861, Union forces surrendered Fort Sumter after 33 hours of bombardment by Confederates.
On April 14, 1865, John Wilkes Booth shot President Abraham Lincoln as the President attended a showing of Our American Cousin at Ford’s Theater, seven blocks from the White House; Lincoln survived nine hours before dying the next day.
RMS Titanic hit an iceberg just before midnight on April 14, 1912. Among those losing their lives was Major Archibald Butt of Augusta, Georgia, who had served as a military aide to Presidents Theodore Roosevelt and William Howard Taft.
“Captain Smith and Major Archibald Butt, military aide to the President of the United States, were among the coolest men on board. A number of steerage passengers were yelling and screaming and fighting to get to the boats. Officers drew guns and told them that if they moved towards the boats they would be shot dead. Major Butt had a gun in his hand and covered the men who tried to get to the boats. The following story of his bravery was told by Mrs. Henry B. Harris, wife of the theatrical manager: ‘The world should rise in praise of Major Butt. That man’s conduct will remain in my memory forever. The American army is honored by him and the way he taught some of the other men how to behave when women and children were suffering that awful mental fear of death. Major Butt was near me and I noticed everything that he did.”
“When the order to man the boats came, the captain whispered something to Major Butt. The two of them had become friends. The major immediately became as one in supreme command. You would have thought he was at a White House reception. A dozen or more women became hysterical all at once, as something connected with a life-boat went wrong. Major Butt stepped over to them and said: ‘Really, you must not act like that; we are all going to see you through this thing.’”
“He helped the sailors rearrange the rope or chain that had gone wrong and lifted some of the women in with a touch of gallantry. Not only was there a complete lack of any fear in his manner, but there was the action of an aristocrat. ‘When the time came he was a man to be feared. In one of the earlier boats fifty women, it seemed, were about to be lowered, when a man, suddenly panic-stricken, ran to the stern of it. Major Butt shot one arm out, caught him by the back of the neck and jerked him backward like a pillow. His head cracked against a rail and he was stunned. ‘Sorry,’ said Major Butt, ‘women will be attended to first or I’ll break every damned bone in your body.’”
“The boats were lowered one by one, and as I stood by, my husband said to me, ‘Thank God, for Archie Butt.’ Perhaps Major Butt heard it, for he turned his face towards us for a second and smiled.”
Jackie Robinson, born in Cairo, Georgia, became the first African-American professional baseball player in the Major Leagues on April 15, 1947, playing for the Brooklyn Dodgers against the Boston Braves. Robinson scored the winning run in that game.
The Atlanta Ladies Memorial Association was formed on April 15, 1966 to assist and honor Confederate veterans. One of its most well-known projects was the “Lion of the Confederacy” memorial in Oakland Cemetery.
Kennesaw Junior College became a senior college on April 14, 1976 by vote of the Georgia Board of Regents.
By this time, enrollment had tripled from an initial student count of 1,014 in the fall of 1966 to 3,098 in the fall of 1975. Numerous local leaders were involved in the fight for four-year status, but the two politicians playing the most pivotal roles were state Representatives Joe Mack Wilson and Al Burruss of Marietta. In time the memories of both would be honored by having buildings named for them on the Kennesaw campus
A U.S. Postage stamp bearing Georgia’s state bird and state flower was issued as part of a series including all 50 states on April 14, 1982, with first day ceremonies held in Washington and each state.
On April 15, 1989, Chinese students and intellectuals in Tiananmen Square in Beijing, mourned the death of Communist Party General Secretary Hu Yaoban, considered a liberal reformer.
DeForest Kelley, born in Atlanta and known for playing Dr. Leonard “Bones” McCoy on the original Star Trek series, was inducted into the National Broadcasters Hall of Fame on April 15, 1992.
On April 14, 2010, a signature by Button Gwinnett, one of Georgia’s three signers of the Declaration of Independence sold at auction for $722,500 at an auction by Sotheby’s. About 50 examples of his signature are knoawn to exist and six have been auctioned since 1974.
On April 15, 2013 two bombs exploded near the finish line of the 2013 Boston Marathon killing three people and wounding more than 260 others.
Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections
Air Force One landed at Moody Air Force Base on Thursday, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.
One of the two VC-25A jets operated by the Air Force for transporting the commander-in-chief was flying around South Georgia as part of an “operational testing regimen,” said 1st Lt. Kaitlin Toner of Moody’s public affairs office.
“This testing program includes the requirement to conduct multiple takeoffs, approaches and landings under a variety of conditions,” she said.
Though the VC-25As — essentially modified Boeing 747s — are commonly known as “Air Force One,” that callsign is only used for an aircraft when the president is on board. This began in 1953 after an incident in which the president’s plane and a commercial flight were both using identical call signs in flight, posing a safety hazard.
Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that Taurus USA will locate a new facility in Bainbridge, Georgia.
Taurus USA, a leading firearms manufacturer, will create 300 jobs and invest more than $22.5 million in infrastructure and operations to establish a firearms manufacturing plant in Bainbridge.
“Georgia’s strong manufacturing sector and business-friendly climate continue to attract industry-leading manufacturers like Taurus USA to our state,” said Deal. “With this investment, Taurus USA is highlighting some of the economic development assets available in the Bainbridge area, while also creating meaningful employment opportunities for the community. We welcome Taurus USA to Georgia, and we look forward to seeing how our highly skilled workforce will help the company grow and maintain its competitive edge.”
Taurus USA will build a new 200,000-square-foot facility in Decatur County with 180,000 square feet of space for manufacturing and 20,000 square feet of administrative space. New jobs will include skilled labor positions, administrative personnel, customer service representatives and management teams. Construction will begin in September 2018.
“The decision to move to Bainbridge, Georgia, is part of a long-term growth strategy,” said David Blenker, president and CEO of Taurus USA. “The ability to expand operations is critical for our U.S. business. This new facility will meet our demanding needs to increase production with the skilled workforce Georgia has to offer. We look forward to breaking ground in September 2018 to start the project.”
“We are very proud that Taurus USA has selected our community,” said Rick McCaskill, executive director of the Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County. “This has been a team effort and we stand as a team ready to make the construction and staffing of their facility smooth and seamless.”
Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) Project Manager Tony Greene represented the Global Commerce Division in collaboration with Georgia Power, Georgia Quick Start and the Development Authority of Bainbridge and Decatur County.
“Taurus USA’s decision to locate to Bainbridge is not only a win for the community, but for the region,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Georgia has a long history in the manufacturing industry sector, and we are excited to add Taurus to the long list of manufacturers that are based here. I am confident that our thriving pro-business environment and unmatched logistics network along with the abundance of resources available in Bainbridge, including a skilled workforce, will allow Taurus to succeed in Georgia.”
Governor Deal announced via Twitter that he will meet with executives from Blue Cross Blue Shield of Georgia and Piedmont Healthcare in an attempt to break a deadlock in negotiations.
Earlier this week, Georgia Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens held a meeting with the two sides.
Community Health Commissioner Frank Berry said the agency has been considering different options if Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Georgia don’t come to an agreement on a new contract.
When asked whether those options included a “re-enrollment’’ period, which would allow state employees who are Blue Cross members to choose a different insurer, Deputy Commissioner Andrew Johnson told GHN, “We’ve been doing our due diligence.’’
“We have heard they are close’’ to agreeing on rates, Berry said. “We’re not sure what the other issues are.’’
Gov. Deal was given a “Quilt of Valor” in honor of his military service by On Eagle Wings Quilts of Valor, according to the Gainesville Times.
Quilts of Valor is a nationwide nonprofit made up of volunteers who sew comfort quilts for active-duty military personnel and veterans as a way to thank them for their service to the U.S.
To nominate a service member, go to www.QOVF.org to request a quilt.
The Georgia Department of Economic Development also announced that Loloi, Inc. will locate a new facility in Cartersville, bringing nearly 200 new jobs.
The City of Atlanta’s ransomware attack has cost taxpayers at least $2.7 million dollars so far, according to the AJC.
Lieutenant Governor Casey Cagle has received the endorsement of the National Rifle Association in his bid for Governor, according to the AJC Political Insider.
The National Rifle Association endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle’s campaign for Georgia governor, weeks after he promised to “kill” any legislation that would benefit Delta Air Lines when it cut ties with the gun rights group.
The endorsement Thursday was no surprise – the group publicly thanked Cagle for his support in February – but it comes after another contender, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, wrote an open letter urging the NRA to stay neutral in the crowded race.
“At a time when the five million members of the NRA are under attack like never before, Casey Cagle has very publicly chosen to stand with us,” said NRA chief executive Chris Cox.
State Senator David Shafer, the leading candidate for Lieutenant Governor, will be cleared of allegations of impropriety by an investigation, according to the AJC.
The lawyer investigating claims that state Sen. David Shafer, a leading Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, persistently sexually harassed a veteran lobbyist cast suspicion on the allegation in a report obtained exclusively Thursday by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Attorney Penn Payne wrote that her conclusion was that “it is more likely that Sen. Shafer did not make sexually harassing comments and demands to (the lobbyist) than it is likely that he did, and that it is more likely that the (lobbyist) has fabricated her allegations of sexually harassing conduct than it is likely that she is telling the truth.”
Shafer, R-Duluth, had called for the Senate Ethics Commission to make the report public after senators met for four hours Thursday in closed-door, unpublicized meetings. Reporters were told that the committee would not make any announcement Thursday on whether it would dismiss or move forward with the complaint — first reported by the AJC on March 9.
The 58-page report, marked “confidential” and obtained by the AJC independently, includes interviews with at least four lawmakers and about a half-dozen other officials.
It concluded there was no evidence that Shafer retaliated toward the lobbyist by killing her legislation and found that no witness who was interviewed heard Shafer make “sexually inappropriate remarks” to the accuser.
Jackson County Chief Magistrate Judge Sherri Thurmond Smith has died from cancer.
The Valdosta Daily Times profiles the candidates for three school board seats in the May 22 primary election.
The Newnan Times-Herald profiles candidates for four seats on the Coweta County Board of Education.
Savannah City Council delayed voting on a measure that would allow modern aluminum window frames in the historic district, according to the Savannah Morning News.
The vote was delayed until the next meeting to give the petitioner time to meet with stakeholders and residents concerned about the change, after Mayor Eddie DeLoach said he would not support the amendment without such public engagement occurring.
“As far as I’m concerned it’s not going anywhere,” DeLoach said. “I’m not saying it won’t pass later, but when I go to this stakeholders meeting I better see the windows that are going in.”
Attorney Phillip McCorkle petitioned for the change so his client could install aluminum-clad windows in a five-story, 103-year-old building on Drayton and Bay streets, rather than having to replace all 147 of the windows with wooden, single-pane ones to match those that were removed. The building’s New York-based owner is planning on converting the building into a luxury hotel. McCorkle said he will set up a meeting, possibly through the Downtown Neighborhood Association.
The Georgia Ports Authority continue their streak of record-breaking throughput, according to the Savannah Morning News.
Container trade set a new record in Savannah for the fiscal year to date, July to March, growing by 9 percent, with 255,786 additional units for a total of 3.08 million.
The month of March saw a 14 percent jump in container volumes, with the port moving 355,208 TEUs of containers. A TEU is a measurement used for containers. The dimension of one TEU is equal to that of a standard 20-foot long shipping container.
“Savannah’s continued strength is a reflection of our customers’ commitment, Georgia’s leadership, and the many dedicated service providers, GPA employees and ILA members who come together every day to achieve great things,” GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch said. “March marked our 17th consecutive month of business expansion thanks, in part, to a strong economy and growing market share.”
Another GPA record was set in intermodal rail volumes. Rail volumes jumped 20 percent in March and 15.4 percent for the fiscal year to date, with a total of 318,454 containers handled over the nine months.
The Newnan-Coweta Chamber of Commerce heard from local legislators, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.
Coweta’s state legislative delegation and Chris Clark, Georgia Chamber president and CEO, say the general assembly did make some progress regarding legislation, despite it being a election year.
Coweta delegation members – Sen. Matt Brass, Rep. Lynn Smith, Rep. Josh Bonner and Rep. Bob Trammell – discussed what happened during the legislative session, which began in January and ended late March.
“This was a very productive session for the business community and job creation in Georgia,” Clark said. “We tracked about 428 bills.”
Trammell commended Gov. Nathan Deal for finding funds to fully fund Quality Based Education and highlighted the Transit Bill – which could possibly bring transit to Coweta – and the Distracted Driving Bill. He said he hopes to bring healthcare to the forefront in 2019.
Officials from Gwinnett Public Schools heard about safety concerns from citizens during a public meeting, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
The audience shared concerns of school safety. One of the more popular questions asked was about a stronger presence of school resource officers at elementary schools.
“We’re budgeting to hire 10 SROs with the primary focus being at the elementary school level,” Wilbanks said. “We’re also asking that there be as much coverage as we can get in all of our buildings.”
Another question that was asked about school safety was if the board was considering placing metal detectors at schools.
“This is something that would change the welcoming nature of our schools,” School Board Chairwoman Carole Boyce said. “It’s not something we would want to do unless absolutely necessary.”
Gwinnett Transportation Director Alan Chapman said that heavy rail from MARTA’s Doraville station is central to the county’s transportation planning, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.
Gwinnett Transportation Director Alan Chapman said a heavy rail line from the Doraville MARTA station to a multimodal hub on Jimmy Carter Boulevard is a long-range proposal the county is looking at in its transit development plan.
It won’t come cheap. The 4- to 5-mile line could cost at least $1 billion at an expected cost of $250 million per mile, according to Chapman.
The project, which would be part of a transit expansion referendum that county officials plan to eventually put to the voters, would be tied to a multimodal hub that Chapman said commuters would use to change between different types of transit, such as bus rapid transit, also known as BRT.
Under regional transit legislation passed by the General Assembly this year, Gwinnett has the option to hold a referendum on joining MARTA outright this year — but joining MARTA fully is no longer needed to get its rail service.
Even if a MARTA referendum isn’t held or doesn’t pass, the county would also be allowed to hold a referendum on a 30-year sales tax to fund transit expansion projects. Under the new regional transit law, MARTA would automatically be involved in any heavy rail built in the metro Atlanta region.