Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 2022

23
May

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 23, 2022

Serial bank robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow were shot to death near Sailes, Louisiana by a group of LA and Texas state police on May 23, 1934.

On May 23, 1954, the NAACP petitioned the Fulton County Board of Education to desegregate after the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Brown v. Board of Education.

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter won the Virginia Caucus on May 23, 1976, gaining 24 delegates. On May 25, 1976, Carter won the Arkansas, Tennessee, and Kentucky Primary Elections for President.

On May 23, 1990, the NFL announced that Atlanta would host the 1994 Super Bowl.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Democrat Stacey Abrams called Georgia the worst state in which to live, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

“I am tired of hearing about how we’re the best state in the country to do business when we are the worst state in the country to live,” said Abrams before she acknowledged Republicans would attack her for the later part of that statement.

“Let me contextualize. When you’re No. 48 for mental health, when we’re No. 1 for maternal mortality, when you have an incarceration rate that is on the rise and wages are on the decline, then you are not the No. 1 place to live.”

“Stacey Abrams may think differently, but I believe Georgia is the best state to live, work, and raise a family,” said Kemp in a post on Twitter Saturday night. “And Marty, the girls, and I will work hard every day from now until November to keep it that way for four more years!”

Former Vice President Mike Pence will rally for Governor Brian Kemp today, according to the AJC.

Former Vice President Mike Pence will headline a get-out-the-vote rally with Gov. Brian Kemp on the eve of Georgia’s May 24 primary, deepening a split with Donald Trump as each maneuvers for a possible 2024 White House run.

Pence called Kemp “one of the most successful conservative governors in America” in a statement announcing the rally to help the incumbent stave off a Trump-backed challenge from former U.S. Sen. David Perdue. Kemp’s campaign did not release a specific time or location for the rally.

“The vice president’s leadership was instrumental in creating the most prosperous economy in American history, including here in Georgia, and his commitment to building a safer, stronger America represents the highest ideals of our party,” Kemp said.

Effingham County Sheriff’s deputies are in hot pursuit of an escaped pair of monkeys, according to WSAV.

Deputies say two Patas monkeys are on the loose in North Effingham. Officials are working with the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to trap them.

While deputies say the monkeys are not believed to be dangerous, they warn you to not attempt to catch them. If you see them, please call 912-754-3449.

From WTOC:

Officials have set up traps to try to capture the monkeys. They escaped from their home in the north end of the county.

Former Georgia State Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has been indicted by a federal grand jury, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

Former Georgia Insurance Commissioner John Oxendine has been indicted on federal charges of conspiring to commit health care fraud and money laundering, the Justice Department announced.

According to information presented to a federal grand jury, Oxendine conspired with Dr. Jeffrey Gallups and others to submit fraudulent insurance claims for more than $2.5 million in medically unnecessary tests ordered from a lab in Texas. Gallups already has pleaded guilty to health care fraud.

As part of the scheme, the lab company agreed to pay Oxendine’s insurance services business a kickback of 50% of the net profits from eligible specimens submitted by Gallups’ practice, which amounted to $260,000.

“Patients go to their health care provider for treatment with the expectation that their treatment or test is necessary, not a scam for fraud,” U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said.

“Patients go to their health care provider for treatment with the expectation that their treatment or test is necessary, not a scam for fraud,” U.S. Attorney Ryan Buchanan said.

From the Associated Press via AccessWDUN:

Gallups was charged last year with health care fraud and pleaded guilty in October. He’s set to be scheduled next month, according to court records.

Oxendine’s defense attorneys, Drew Findling and Marissa Goldberg, said in an emailed statement that Oxendine “has been targeted in this investigation because of his name and gravitas, but to be clear, he has not broken any laws and is innocent of this indictment.”

Tomorrow is primary election day in Georgia. Here are the stats from the latest early and advance voting list from the Secretary of State’s Office:

863,146 ballots cast

66,388 mailed ballots returned

796,394 ballots cast in person

392 Electronic ballots cast (overseas residents and military)

372,345 Democratic Primary ballots cast

485,233 Republican Primary ballots cast

5568 Non-partisan ballots cast

In Gwinnett County:

29,354 Democratic ballots cast

26,380 Republican ballots cast

356 Non partisan ballots cast

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

Early voting ahead of next week’s Georgia primaries ended Friday with an all-time high of more than 850,000 voters either casting a ballot in person or returning an absentee ballot. In Cobb, more than 55,000 ballots were cast in early voting and another 6,000 absentee ballots were received.

The statewide totals represented a 168% increase over early voting ahead of the last gubernatorial primaries in 2018 and a 212% jump over early voting turnout for the primaries two years ago.

“The incredible turnout we have seen demonstrates once and for all that Georgia’s Election Integrity Act struck a good balance between the guardrails of access and security,” [Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger said.

From the Rome News Tribune:

In Floyd County, 5,534 voters cast early ballots. That includes 467 absentee ballots received by Friday. Elections Supervisor Pete McDonald said about 130 are still out. They must be returned to the elections office at 18 E. 12th St. — by mail or hand-carried — before 7 p.m. on Tuesday.

Stacey Jackson was sworn in as the new District Attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit, according to WTVM.

Well-known Columbus Defense Attorney Stacey Jackson has a new job. Earlier, he was sworn in as the new District Attorney for the Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit. It’s a seat once held by Mark Jones before he was suspended for bribery and corruption in the office.

He served as an Assistant District Attorney for eight years before going into private practice. Defense Attorney Katonga Wright, who represented the former DA and a local barber, both say because of his experience, he is the best choice for this position.

“Obviously, I’m feeling great and enthusiastic,” said Jackson after being sworn in. “I’m glad to be going into the DA’s office and working with those men and women that have been fighting for justice for the amount of time they’ve been there.”

“Our circuit is already great. We just have to make our circuit safe again,” said Jackson.

Stacey Jackson’s appointment expires at the end of 2024.

At that time he would have to run for office and let voters decide who will hold the seat.

Governor Brian Kemp announced Friday that Hyundai will build its first dedicated Electric Vehicle and battery manufacturing facility in Bryan County, Georgia, according to a press release:

At a signing ceremony today, Governor Brian P. Kemp and Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung announced that Hyundai Motor Group will open its first fully dedicated electric vehicle (EV) and battery manufacturing facility in the State of Georgia. Hyundai Motor Group (HMG, or “the Group”) will invest $5.54 billion in opening a state-of-the-art U.S. smart factory at the Bryan County Megasite. Non-affiliated Hyundai Motor Group suppliers will invest approximately another $1 billion in the project, delivering approximately 8,100 new jobs to Georgia’s coastal region.

Governor Kemp was joined by Jay Chang, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company, and José Muñoz, President and COO of Hyundai Motor Company, along with Hyundai Motor Group executives and state and local economic development leaders at the premier 2,923-acre site. The megasite was purchased jointly by the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority (JDA) and the State less than a year ago.

“We are proud to welcome Hyundai Motor Group to Georgia as we forge an innovative future together,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “From initial conversations on my economic development mission to Korea to Georgia’s investment in the Bryan County Megasite, we’ve been preparing for an opportunity like this for a long time. My commitment to hardworking Georgians to make our state the best place to live, work, and raise our families remains steadfast, and with this announcement, which is now the largest economic development project in our state’s history, we will continue working to make Georgia the premier destination for quality companies who are creating the jobs of today, tomorrow, and beyond.”

“As one of the world’s most successful and advanced mobility leaders, we are incredibly proud to share our plan to open our first dedicated full EV and battery manufacturing facilities in the U.S.,” said Hyundai Motor Group Executive Chair Euisun Chung. “The U.S. has always held an important place in the Group’s global strategy, and we are excited to partner with the State of Georgia to achieve our shared goal of electrified mobility and sustainability in the U.S.”

Hyundai Motor Group expects to begin construction on the new facility in January 2023, with full production expected in the first half of 2025, with annual capacity of 300,000 units. Wages throughout the project will be well-paying advanced manufacturing positions competitive in the local market.

“We decided to build our first dedicated EV plant in the U.S. because America embraces change and drives innovation,” said Jaehoon (Jay) Chang, President and CEO of Hyundai Motor Company. “This new EV plant is the future of our business, and it will help us meet the growing demands of our U.S. customers who want leading edge design, safe, zero-emissions vehicles now and in the future.”

In choosing Georgia, Hyundai Motor Group cited speed-to-market, workforce, and the state’s ability to meet the company’s carbon neutrality standards. Additionally, Georgia is home to an existing network of Hyundai subsidiaries and suppliers. Developed by the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor JDA over the last several years in partnership with the state, the Bryan County Megasite offers the needed speed-to-market requirements that reduce barriers to speedy operations. Industrial utilities are adjacent to the site, and extensive due diligence reports have been completed.

“We are thrilled to partner with Governor Kemp and the Savannah Joint Economic Development Authority to bring what will be a flexible EV smart factory to Bryan County,” said President and COO of Hyundai Motor Company José Muñoz. “With this plant, we will be well-positioned to win in a competitive market with more and more consumers demanding smart, sustainable mobility solutions now.”

Headquartered in Seoul, Korea, Hyundai Motor Group employs 250,000 people worldwide. The Group’s vehicles are sold in 193 countries through 5,000 dealerships and showrooms. At the new Georgia highly connected, automated, and flexible EV smart factory, Hyundai Motor Group plans to produce a diverse range of innovative full electric vehicles. Details of production models will be shared at later dates. Through the battery manufacturing facility, the Group also aims to establish a stable supply chain for EV battery and other EV components in the U.S. market.

When it nears planned 2025 start of operations, Hyundai Motor Group will seek local vendors and suppliers. Information related to inquiries about project RFIs, RFPs listing, and supply chain outreach will be available at www.georgia.org/hyundaimotorgroup when it becomes available.

“To say today’s announcement is transformative is an understatement,” said Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority Board of Directors Chairman Carter Infinger. “The jobs being created and the investment being made by the Hyundai Motor Group will reverberate for years and years and generations to come. This is a great day for Bryan, Bulloch, Chatham and Effingham counties as well as this entire region and the State of Georgia.”

Bryan County is the fastest-growing county in the state, and the strategic purchase of the Bryan County Megasite in 2021 was the largest in state history. The site is adjacent to Interstate 16 with immediate access from I-95 and I-16 to 250 major metro areas. It is less than 30 miles from the Port of Savannah, the single-largest and fastest-growing container terminal in the U.S. with two Class I rail facilities on-site provided by Georgia Central Railway.

“Today’s news that Hyundai Motor Group will build a new facility in Georgia is evidence that Georgia’s collective focus on supporting the electric mobility future is working,” said Georgia Department of Transportation Commissioner Russell McMurry. “It also exemplifies the power of our partnership and preparation. Georgia’s planning to ensure our logistics networks are safe, sustainable, innovative, and ready to support economic growth continue to provide new opportunities for business and all Georgians. The Georgia Department of Transportation looks forward to the opportunities Hyundai Motor Group will bring to the state.”

“Hyundai Motor Group’s new location, less than 30 miles from Garden City Terminal and directly adjacent to I-16, provides stellar access to global and domestic markets for both assembly components and finished vehicle marketing,” said Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff Lynch. “The group’s decision to expand here in Georgia is a clear endorsement of the Peach State as a dynamic center for cutting-edge manufacturing.”

Building on the state’s existing automotive assets and developing workforce, Georgia is consistently welcoming increased investment in the electric mobility ecosystem and supply chain across the state. Additionally, Georgia is the Southeastern leader for EV registrations per 1,000 registered automobiles and offers more EV charging outlets per capita than anywhere else in the Southeast. Georgia’s Electric Mobility and Innovation Alliance is a public-private-nonprofit initiative focused on growing the electric mobility ecosystem in the state and strengthening Georgia’s position in electrification-related manufacturing and innovation.

The Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD) was represented by Project Manager Taylor Walden in partnership with the Department’s Georgia-based Director of Korean Investment Yoonie Kim, as well as the Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor JDA, which includes Bryan County, Bulloch County, Chatham County, and Effingham County; the Georgia Department of Transportation; the Georgia Ports Authority; Georgia Quick Start; and Georgia Power.

“Under Governor Kemp’s leadership, we have been focused on putting Georgia at the forefront of electric mobility. Today’s announcement of Hyundai Motor Group’s first fully dedicated EV manufacturing facility solidifies our spot at the vanguard of the EV transition,” said Georgia Department of Economic Development Commissioner Pat Wilson. “We could not be more excited welcome the Hyundai Group to Georgia and to celebrate this incredible investment. This state-of-the-art facility will create exciting new possibilities for all Georgians and transform an entire region. Congratulations to everyone who has worked tirelessly to support this project. I could not be prouder to be part of Team Georgia.”

At the new facility, Hyundai Motor Group plans to implement many of its advanced intelligent manufacturing technologies that are currently under test at the Group’s innovation hub, including intelligent A.I.-equipped manufacturing and data-driven processes to best meet demands of customers. The plant will help support Hyundai Motor Group’s efforts to achieve its carbon neutrality target through the active use of renewable energy for the facility.

With today’s announcement by Hyundai Motor Group, since 2020 alone, Georgia has announced more than 20 EV-related projects that will invest more than $13.54 billion and create nearly 18,000 jobs in the state.

From WTOC:

WTOC spoke with Governor Kemp ahead of the announcement. He says this will be a huge economic boost to not only Bryan County but the whole state of Georgia.

“This is going to be the largest economic plan we have ever done in the state’s history. From a state perspective, it’s just incredible even bigger than the Rivian plant, that we announced several months ago. 8,100 jobs, $5.5 billion in initial investment. We know there will be an addition $1billion dollars from Suppliers who are going to bring, hundreds and hundreds, if not thousands of other jobs.”

Members from the Richmond Hill Bryan County Chamber of Commerce also said they are excited about the announcement.

The Chamber’s chairwoman says that, not only should the area expect new businesses directly related to the electric vehicle plant at the megasite, but also businesses for the workers who will staff this plant – such as restaurants.

“And then after the direct industry comes, then is when you get additional restaurants and more mom and pop shops and those other small businesses that join in and fill in with the community. So we can expect down the road to see this slow and homogenous growth that comes around a large investment like this,” said Emily Cannon.

Rep. Buddy Carter, who attended the announcement today, released a statement following the ceremony.

“I am thrilled that Hyundai chose Georgia as the home for its latest factory. Not only will this investment bring thousands of jobs to the First District, but it will also boost America’s manufacturing economy, spurring innovation and global economic competitiveness within the region. With this investment, Georgia will be a leader in the electric vehicle industry. The future of transportation is right here in Bryan County.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

[Hyundai Motor Company President and CEO Jaehoon “Jay”] Chang said he embraced the idea of building the plant in the United States because the country “embraces change.” “This new EV plant is the future of our business and it will help us meet the growing demands of our U.S. customers who want leading edge design, safe, zero-emissions vehicles now and in the future,” said Chang.

WTOC also looks at how the KIA plant transformed the LaGrange area.

In 2009, Hyundai Motor Group opened its first Kia car manufacturing plant in the U.S. near a small town on the Georgia-Alabama border.

“This area historically has been predominantly textiles and we’re trying to give industry a new shot in the arm in this region.”

“If you look at this area five or ten years from now it will look much different. You’re going to see more hotels, restaurants, housing developments coming in. The economic impact we’ll have in the future will change the face of this region and make it better for everyone,” said Randy Jackson, Kia spokesperson.

“The community has welcomed us with open arms. The unemployment rate I think at the time was 12 percent and now we’re three percent for the area,” said Rick Douglas, Senior Manager Public Relations.

With 90 percent of the cars made here go to dealerships in the U.S. The impact can be seen for 50 miles with Kia suppliers spread along I-85 from Valley, Alabama all the way east to Greenville, Georgia.

“That’s another 14,000 jobs that are created to support this particular operation.”

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynn County has suspended training due to COVID-19, according to The Brunswick News.

The training center announced that it was asking students to return to their duty stations until further notice due to an increase in the number of students testing positive for COVID.

On an unrelated matter, two FLETC students died at Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick hospital this week. Both were taken from the center to the hospital. The cause of death of both had not been determined Friday, according to a FLETC spokesman.

As of Thursday, FLETC had 168 positive cases of COVID-19, according to Alan Shefveland, branch chief, FLETC public affairs.

When the session halted, 2,853 students representing 68 agencies were in training. Approximately 500 of those are remaining on base, though the number is subject to change, according to Shefveland.

The suspension comes at the heels of a health department warning that the number of COVID cases is rising again throughout the eight-county Coastal Health District and a prediction by the Centers for Disease Control of another surge in infections.

“FLETC is the only institution in the U.S. that has the capability and capacity to train the new federal officers that will replace the thousands of officers that leave federal service in a typical year,” said FLETC Director Thomas J. Walters.

Most Georgia statewide Republican incumbents face challengers, according to the Associated Press via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

Several of Georgia’s statewide officials are battling to keep their offices in down-ballot primary elections being decided Tuesday. State Attorney General Chris Carr and Insurance Commissioner John King both face fellow Republicans endorsed by former President Donald Trump. Trump is also backing one of four Republicans in the open race for lieutenant governor. Meanwhile, Republican state school Superintendent Richard Woods is being opposed by his predecessor, John Barge.

Liberty County reported about 3900 early ballots cast, according to WTOC.

[Elections Supervisor Ronda] Walthour says there’s more than 35,000 active voters in Liberty County, and around 3,900 have chosen to cast their ballots early.

“A little lower, but I’m thinking in November, it’s going to be more than that.”

U.S. Senate candidate Herschel Walker (R-presumptive) visited Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Herschel Walker, considered by many to be the greatest college football player of all time, was joined by Republican supporters, voters and fans at the Lowndes County Judicial Complex Saturday.

“I am running because I grew up in middle Georgia where people live paycheck to paycheck. Gas and energy prices are skyrocketing as a result of bad Democratic energy policy decisions,” Walker said. “I will fight to make America energy independent once again, leading to lower gas prices, more American jobs being brought back from overseas and stronger national security.”

Burt Jones, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, stood alongside Walker during his visit to Valdosta.

“We can come together as one to get this thing done. Make sure you encourage family and friends to vote on May 24,” Walker said.

Walker will rally in Athens tonight, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Herschel Walker, a republican candidate for U.S. Senate, will hold a rally Monday evening at The Foundry. The event begins at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

Walker recently stopped in the Athens area for a rally in Banks County headlined by former President Donald Trump.

On the ballot running against Walker are: Gary Black, Josh Clark, Kelvin King, Jonathan “Jon” McColumn and Latham Saddler.

The Valdosta Daily Times profiles the nonpartisan candidates for Bulloch County State Court, incumbent Judge Joseph Cushner and challenger Michael J. Classens.

The Gainesville Times lists candidates who will be on tomorrow’s ballot.

13WMAZ has profiled the Republican candidates to challenged Democratic U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop for the Second Congressional District:

Vivian Childs

Jeremy Hunt

Wayne Johnson

Rich Robertson

Chris West

Paul Whitehead

Lehman Franklin is running unopposed for the House District 160 seat being vacated by State Rep. Jan Tankersley (R-Bulloch County), according to the Savannah Morning News.

Tankersley is retiring after serving in the Georgia General Assembly for 12 years.

District 160 voters will find Lehman Franklin’s name on their ticket instead. The Statesboro car dealer was the only candidate to qualify to succeed Tankersley. The district includes parts of Bulloch County as well as Bryan.

Franklin joked that running unopposed might not be a good thing.

“I said ‘Well this is great,’ then I thought maybe I am the sucker,” Franklin said. “But on a serious note, it is very exciting. I’m looking forward to it. I didn’t know what to expect about running for an office, but when I got out there, I really enjoyed it.”

Franklin launched his campaign shortly after Tankersley announced her retirement in February. She told the Statesboro Herald “it’s time to, God-willing, enjoy retirement with my husband Hughie in Brooklet.”

Some Bryan County voters will cast their ballots in an emergency mobile polling station, according to WTOC.

After a tornado destroyed a polling place in Bryan County, an emergency mobile voting site is ready to serve as a replacement. Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger made a stop at the site today to see it getting ready for Tuesday’s primaries.

Voters in precinct 2 would typically cast their vote in the Hendrix Park Gym. However now they can cast their vote, just as they would there, here inside the trailer.

Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger says he wants voters to know that this mobile unit is equipped with everything other polling places have. He says it has the same ballot marking device and the same scanners.

Because of the high early voter turnout that they’re already seeing, they say they expect Tuesday to be strong as well. Raffensperger and Bryan County Board of Elections Chairman, Tom Hand say this unit is a great and solution.

Polling place location changes are raising concerns in Valdosta, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Signs across various polling places in Valdosta have stated “Your polling place may have changed. Check your precinct card or call 229-671-2850,” sparking concern with some voters as Election Day nears.

Hahira resident Deborah Rhoades is one of the voters. She said the signs are “vague” and do not inform voters specifically of possible changes.

“Normally, you’d get a notice in the mail showing the new polling place. I have no way of knowing if (the signs) apply to us. I vote early but my husband votes the day of. We never received notification. The signs are really not readable unless you can come to a close enough stop to read,” she said.

“In my opinion, this is not sufficient. If they could print a card, they could include our new polling place. It’s just a matter of doing a mail merge with the voter database. It isn’t rocket science.”

The Lowndes County Board of Elections released a statement explaining that the state elections office usually produces cards directing registered voters to a specific polling location or place.

Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections, said changes were made this year, and registered voters with a polling place change received generic cards in the mail directing them to a website where they can locate their specific polling place.

“Due to late redistricting changes statewide, the state elections office was unable to print and deliver precinct cards in time for this election, resulting in confusion with the voters,” she said.

“To help streamline the process, we are directing all Lowndes County voters to visit https://mvp.sos.ga.gov/s/ or call our office at (229) 671-2850.”

If a candidate you want to vote for or against doesn’t appear on your ballot it might be because of redistricting. From WTVM:

The redrawing of electoral lines happens every ten years following the US Census in an effort to ensure that minorities and other groups have proper representation.

We spoke with Gloria Strode, the liaison for Muscogee County in the 2010 and 2020 Census.

“if you get to the polls and your candidate’s name is not on the ballot, it’s probably because your district has changed,” Strode explained.

If you have questions about your ballot once you arrive at your polling location on Election Day, check with a polling official.

Savannah Mayor Van Johnson delivered his State of the City address, according to WSAV.

“We have great opportunities before us and like many cities…every city we have our own unique set of challenges,” says Johnson.

After the entire country suffered economic hardships because of the pandemic – Johnson states the city has recovered remarkably.

“The City of Savannah is growing faster than any place in the state of Georgia,” said Johnson. “2021 was the best year ever for almost all of our industries…ever. Even pre-pandemic. And 2022 is setting up to be even stronger than 2021.”

An economic bounce back and good things on the way, yet the city still has one significant issue that stands out over the rest – gun violence.

“Our situation is unacceptable in my mind, but we’re not unique,” said Johnson.

Johnson says Savannah has seen 16 homicides thus far this year and is noticing trends in how these incidents keep occurring.

“Black males that have some beef with each other…it’s about a woman, about some money, about some drugs. The fact of the matter is this life leads you nowhere,” says Johnson.

Harris County public schools will provide free lunches during the summer, according to WTVM.

[F]ree meals will be available to children ages 0-18 between June 6-30. Parents can pick the food up between 10 a.m. and noon each day or choose Mondays to pick up meals for the entire week.

“Our goal is to make sure children are fed over the summer when they are out of school. Meals are provided free of charge,” said Brad Johnson, district school nutrition coordinator. “The children do not have to be present for the pickup. Parents can even coordinate with other parents to pick up the food. The only requirement is that each child who receives a meal is 18 years old or younger. Please spread the word throughout our community and let’s make sure all of our children are fed this summer.”

SSFP, a federally funded program, provides free meals to children ages 18 and younger during the summer when National School Lunch and School Breakfast Program meals are not available.

Crisp County has seen an increase in Fentanyl overdoses, according to WALB.

More than 100,000 people in America died of drug overdoses last year.

According to the National Center for Drug Abuse, fentanyl was a factor in more than half of those overdose deaths.

David Edwards, EMS Director for Crisp County, said that he has seen fentanyl usage on the rise in Crisp County.

“Fentanyl is probably a wonder pain relief drug when used properly and issued by a licensed medical provider,” Edwards said. “It comes in many forms. Pills, patches and they’re both like time-released dosages.”

“Sometimes it can be accidental. People misunderstand. They take the wrong dosage. Either too much or not enough,” he said. “They don’t get relief and they take more. They get into an area where they may accidentally take too much. Or they apply a patch too often. Things like that.”

Chip Walls, Assistant Director for Crisp County EMS, said he has seen a huge increase in fentanyl usage in recent years and adds that he mainly sees accidental usage in older people and purposeful usage in younger people.

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