Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2024

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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for May 16, 2024

Georgia’s trustees asked Britain to repeal the law against importing slaves to the colonies on May 17, 1749.

On May 17, 1769, George Washington introduced resolutions in the Virginia House of Burgesses, drafted by George Mason, criticizing Britain’s “taxation without representation” policies toward the colonies.

Button Gwinnett and Lachlan McIntosh met outside Savannah on May 16, 1777 and fought a duel; Gwinnett was mortally wounded.

Gwinnett returned to Georgia immediately after signing the [Declaration of Independence] to find city Whig Lachlan McIntosh commanding Georgia’s nascent military efforts. Determined to take control of Georgia politics, Gwinnett became speaker of the legislature, guided the Georgia Constitution of 1777 into existence and took over as governor when Archibald Bulloch died suddenly in office.

Gwinnett then wanted to lead an expedition to secure Georgia’s border with Florida. A dispute between McIntosh and Gwinnett over who would command the effort ultimately led to their duel and Gwinnett’s death.

Button Gwinnett died on May 19, 1777 of a gunshot wound received in a duel with Lachlan McIntosh.

George Washington continued his tour of Georgia on May 17, 1791, staying overnight in Waynesboro; on May 18 he arrived in Augusta.

On May 19-20, 1791, George Washington spent his second and third days in Augusta, where he visited Richmond Academy. Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791 to go to Columbia, South Carolina.

George Washington left Georgia on May 21, 1791, crossing a bridge over the Savannah River at Augusta.

A Constitutional Convention met on May 16, 1795 in the capital of Louisville to amend the Georgia Constitution of 1789.

Georgia ratified the Twelfth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which governs voting for President and Vice President on May 19, 1804.

General Winfield Scott issued an order on the removal of Cherokee people from Georgia on May 17, 1838.

Abraham Lincoln was nominated for President by the Republican National Convention on May 18, 1860.

On May 17, 1864, Sherman and Johnston engaged in the Battle of Adairsville, Georgia.

The Battle of Spotsylvania ended on May 19, 1864. In Georgia, the Affair at Cassville occurred on May 19, 1864.

The United States Senate voted to acquit President Andrew Johnson of 11 Articles of Impeachment passed by the House of Representatives on May 16, 1868.

The United States Supreme Court handed down its decision in Plessy v. Ferguson on May 18, 1896.

The U.S. Supreme Court rule[d] seven to one that a Louisiana law providing for “equal but separate accommodations for the white and colored races” on its railroad cars is constitutional. The high court held that as long as equal accommodations were provided, segregation was not discrimination and thus did not deprive African Americans of equal protection under the law as guaranteed by the 14th Amendment.

The North Georgia Electric Company was incorporated on May 16, 1901 to build a hydroelectric dam on the Chattahoochee River near Gainesville; in 1916, it would be bought by the company that today is known as Georgia Power.

On May 19, 1933, the Atlanta City Council voted to allow beer sales in the city. Prohibition was still in effect at the federal level at that time, but the President had signed the Cullen-Harrison Act that allowed sale of 3.2% beer effective April 7, 1933.

The United States Supreme Court released its unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education on May 17, 1954, overturning Plessy v. Ferguson.

The historic decision, which brought an end to federal tolerance of racial segregation, specifically dealt with Linda Brown, a young African American girl who had been denied admission to her local elementary school in Topeka, Kansas, because of the color of her skin.

On May 19, 1977, “Smokey and the Bandit” was released.

President Barack Obama delivered the commencement address at Morehouse College on May 19, 2013.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The B-52s endorsed “Rock Lobsters” as the name for a new Athens-based hockey team, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The ‘Rock Lobsters’ name chosen for Athens’ new pro hockey team received ringing endorsements across social media Wednesday after the team revealed the music-themed nickname.

The name comes from a 1978 song of the same title from Athens new wave band The B-52s, which lobbied for the team name on its social media platforms in April during a community vote.

The B-52s on Wednesday showed elation on X, formerly known as Twitter, and on its Instagram account after the announcement.

R.E.M. bassist Mike Mills also approved of the name although the city’s most recognizable band wasn’t in the mix for a team name like Classic City Panic, a nod toward jam band Widespread Panic.

Mills took to X to endorse the Rock Lobsters name.

The Rock Lobsters open their inaugural season in October and play in the Federal Prospects Hockey League, an 11-team alliance along the East Coast.

Athens mayor Kelly Girtz indicated Wednesday on X that his vote went toward the Rock Lobsters.

Today is the last day of early voting for the May 21, 2024 General Primary, according to the AJC.

Georgia voters have one last day to cast their ballots early ahead of primary election day on Tuesday.

Voting locations are open in every county Friday, concluding three weeks of early voting for Congress, the General Assembly, county offices and the Supreme Court of Georgia.

So far, turnout has reached nearly 420,000 in-person voters, and an additional 33,000 voters have returned absentee ballots, according to state election data through Thursday.

With no statewide races on the ballot other than judges, fewer people have participated in this year’s election. More than 655,000 people had voted in person at this point in the 2022 primary amid heated contests for the U.S. Senate and governor.

The winners of partisan primaries will advance to the general election in November. In some cases, the primary will effectively decide the winner in races where candidates do not face an opponent from another party.

President Joe Biden will debate Former President Donald Trump in Atlanta, according to the Associated Press via the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

President Joe Biden and former President Donald Trump on Wednesday agreed to hold two campaign debates — the first on June 27 hosted by CNN in Atlanta and the second on Sept. 10 hosted by ABC — setting the stage for their first presidential face-off to play out in just over a month.

The quick agreement on the timetable followed the Democrat’s announcement that he would not participate in fall presidential debates sponsored by the nonpartisan commission that has organized them for more than three decades. Biden’s campaign instead proposed that media outlets directly organize the debates between the presumptive Democratic and Republican nominees.

The debate is so unusually early on the political calendar that neither Biden nor Trump will have formally accepted his party’s nomination.

Hours later, Biden said he had accepted an invitation from CNN, adding, “Over to you, Donald.” Trump, who had insisted he would debate Biden anytime and anyplace, said on Truth Social he’d be there, too, adding, “Let’s get ready to Rumble!!!” Soon after that, they agreed to the second debate on ABC.

“Trump says he’ll arrange his own transportation,” Biden wrote on X, working in a jab about the perks of incumbency. “I’ll bring my plane, too. I plan on keeping it for another four years.”

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020, since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate,” Biden said in a post on X. “Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal.”

Trump, for his part, said Biden was the “WORST debater I have ever faced — He can’t put two sentences together!”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald:

The first presidential debates between Republican Richard Nixon and Democrat John F. Kennedy took place in 1960 without audiences present. But since presidential debates resumed in 1976, all have taken place in front of live audiences.

The two candidates wasted no time engaging in trash talk as they announced the debate.

“Donald Trump lost two debates to me in 2020,” Biden said in a video released Wednesday. “Since then he hasn’t shown up for a debate. Now he’s acting like he wants to debate me again. Well, make my day, pal, I’ll even do it twice.”

“I am Ready and Willing to Debate Crooked Joe at the two proposed times in June and September,” Trump wrote on his Truth Social website. “Let’s get ready to Rumble.”

It’s uncertain whether any third-party candidates will be on the stage for the Atlanta debate. To participate, candidates must get their names on a sufficient number of state ballots to potentially reach the 270 electoral vote threshold to win the presidency and receive at least 15% in four separate national polls.

Moderators for the debate and additional details will be announced at a later date.

Governor Brian Kemp announced Georgia was named number one in the in Site Selection annual Prosperity Cup rankings, according to a Press Release.

Governor Brian P. Kemp, in conjunction with the Georgia Department of Economic Development (GDEcD), today announced that the state earned the No. 1 spot in Site Selection’s annual Prosperity Cup rankings for successful investment recruitment in 2023. Criteria for this national award include the total values of new and expanded facilities in the state, business-climate attractiveness, and workforce readiness.

“I always proudly tell companies across the country and the world how great Georgia is for operating and growing a business,” said Governor Brian Kemp. “This award from Site Selection just adds to a decade of evidence that the way we do business in the Peach State is working. When job creators choose us, they not only get access to the global market through logistics assets like Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport and some of the fastest-growing ports in the nation, they also get a host of incredible partners at the state and local levels.”

In 2023, Georgia attracted 318 new and expanded facilities to secure the No. 1 ranking, according to Site Selection. This includes an expanded scope for the Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America (HMGMA) — the largest project in state history. Announcing an additional 400 new jobs and $2 billion in investment last year, HMGMA’s total investment is now $7.59 billion and will net 8,500 new jobs for hardworking Georgians. Anovion Technologies represents another major project, which selected southwest Georgia for its $800 million, 400-job synthetic graphite manufacturing facility in May, breaking ground at the site in June of last year. In northeast Georgia, Meissner Corporation plans to create more than 1,700 new jobs at a new campus that will more than double the company’s manufacturing footprint in the U.S. as the company expands operations.

“The Prosperity Cup recognizes state-level economic development competitiveness,” says Site Selection’s Mark Arend. “Georgia’s consistent delivery of the location attributes required by capital investors demonstrates to our readers that it competes to win.”

On the heels of Hyundai Motor Group Metaplant America’s groundbreaking in October 2022, Georgia welcomed more than 10 Hyundai and automotive suppliers in 2023 reaching middle Georgia and beyond. These suppliers will ultimately create over 4,300 new jobs and bring $1.2 billion in combined investment. Today, those numbers are even higher. In addition to HMGMA activity, Kia’s facility in West Point and the Toyota campus in Pendergrass both announced expansions during 2023, creating a combined 440 new jobs and $286 million in investment.

“Across Georgia, our economic development team is truly collaborative, including our sister state agencies, utility partners, local economic developers, and many others who work day-in and day-out to help companies and communities find the right match for mutual success,” said GDEcD Commissioner Pat Wilson. “Taking the top spot in the 2024 Prosperity Cup reaffirms that the Georgia Way works. Decades of partnerships and laying the groundwork for intentional economic development from the community level to the state level, combined with our consistent pro-business policies, have led to these positive results. Thanks to our Georgia leaders throughout the state for supporting these efforts that make a difference for Georgia families.”

For the full article on Georgia’s selection for this recognition or more information on the 2024 Prosperity Cup, visit Site Selection’s website at siteselection.com/issues/2024/may/2024-prosperity-cup.cfm.

Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Tadia Whitner ruled against a lawsuit that sought to nullify the City of Mulberry referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

On Thursday afternoon, Superior Court Judge Tadia Whitner ruled that a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of legislation that set up the Mulberry cityhood referendum was not ready to be considered by the courts. Therefore, Whitner said, she could not remove the referendum from the upcoming ballot.

“The court is being asked to consider a law that may or may not be approved by the voters,” Whitner said. “The court declines to remove the referendum from the ballot.”

Whitner’s decision does not close the book on the lawsuit, which was filed in late April by an attorney representing Stephen Hughes, who lives within the proposed city’s limits. She told attorneys for both sides on Thursday that she was not dismissing the case.

“This case is not yet ripe for a ruling,” Whitner said.

After Whitner announced her ruling, Lightcap told the Daily Post that the lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the legislation outlining the Mulberry charter will still go forward if voters approve cityhood on Tuesday.

“We appreciate that the judge has allowed us to continue our challenge to (Senate Bill 333’s) constitutionality after the election,” Lightcap said.

Attorneys representing the pro-cityhood group, Citizens for Mulberry, and the Georgia Attorney General’s Office were given an opportunity to address Whitner and make arguments against removing the issue from the ballot.

They argued that there were issues with the way the lawsuit was filed because it was filed against the Gwinnett County Board of Elections and Elections Supervisor Zach Manifold, and not the county or state, even though questions of the constitutionality of legislation that set up the referendum were raised in the lawsuit.

“There’s no authority of an elections superintendent to just remove issues that it believes are unconstitutional from the ballot,” Citizens for Mulberry attorney Bryan Tyson said.

The courtroom was packed with supporters of cityhood, some of whom showed up wearing green shirts, and opponents, who wore red shirts.

The crowd inside the courtroom was evenly split between the two sides.

After the hearing, some residents who oppose the cityhood proposal said they felt a city was not needed. Some of the opponents have lived in the area all their lives, with some of them coming from families that have been in northeast Gwinnett since the late 1700’s and early 1800’s.

House Majority Leader Chuck Efstration and state Sen. Clint Dixon, the legislators who led the push to get the referendum placed on the ballot were in the audience as well.

“I’m very excited,” Efstration after Whitner issued her ruling. “The people of Mulberry have won today (with) this measure moving forward so the voters can weigh in on this issue.”

“It’s unfortunate that opponents, rather than trying to address the issues at the ballot box have asked for a court-ordered ruling to remove it from the ballot. I’m very pleased that voters will be able to show their support, which certainly from what I’m hearing is overwhelming.”

Columbus will host the Georgia Republican Party food fight Convention again this year, according to WTVM.

The Georgia Republican Convention (GOP) will be in Columbus starting Thursday night through Sunday.

Last year, the big keynote speaker was former President Donald J. Trump. Due to scheduling conflicts, Trump will not be present this year, but another name to grace the podium will be Mark Robinson of North Carolina.

“He is the Lieutenant Governor of North Carolina and he also is running for governor of North Carolina,” said Sherri Carmack, the Muscogee County Republican Party Chairlady.

Also expected is U.S. Representative Marjorie Taylor Greene who will give the keynote address at the Saturday morning breakfast. Convention leaders said they will be handling business on several hot button political issues.

“We’re having a conference to meet with the delegates and alternates, across the state. We conduct business, that’s really what we do… it’s a business operation,” said President of Uptwon Columbus Ed Wolverton. “With 1300 delegates, they of course will have a big impact on our community as people are staying in our hotels, eating at the restaurants and out and about touring, and visiting other sites.”

Amy Kremer is running for Georgia’s seat as Republican National Committeewoman against incumbent Ginger Howard, according to the AJC.

Amy Kremer stood near the White House on Jan. 6, 2021, and told thousands of Donald Trump’s supporters that the 2020 presidential election was fraudulent.

Kremer, a conservative activist from suburban Atlanta, wasn’t part of the mob that hours later stormed the Capitol as Congress met to certify Democrat Joe Biden as Trump’s successor. But it was Kremer’s group that secured the permit for the “Save America” rally where Trump told the crowd to “fight like hell,” and she was among the most active fundraisers in the “Stop the Steal” movement advancing the lie that Biden’s victory was stolen.

As Trump seeks a return to the White House, Kremer is trying to win one of two Georgia seats on the Republican National Committee.

The votes at a state party convention Saturday are expected to show how consumed by the 2020 election the GOP remains in Georgia and everywhere else.

Kremer argues the RNC hasn’t done enough to fight for Trump or protect others who fought for him, like the 16 Georgia Republicans who falsely claimed to be valid Trump electors in a state Joe Biden won.

“It’s not enough to just espouse conservatism anymore,” Kremer told a party group on April 24. “We have to stand up and fight. And the RNC has not done it.”

State convention delegates will choose one man and one woman to the national party’s governing body on Saturday in Columbus. It’s not as if the incumbents seeking reelection are Trump critics. Jason Thompson and Ginger Howard trumpet their allegiances. Thompson, an attorney, was among the lawyers who helped Trump ask courts for recounts and favorable treatment after Election Day in 2020.

Thompson and Howard are both calling for the national party to repay the state party more than $1.5 million it has spent defending the 16 fake Trump electors. Three have been indicted by Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis, while others reached immunity deals to testify for prosecutors.

But they also warn that Georgia Republicans need experienced leaders who can obtain resources to win the November election in a battleground where wins by Biden and two Democratic U.S. senators have shaken a generation of Republican control.

Republican candidates for the Second Congressional District debated Monday, according to WTVM.

The four Republican candidate’s for Georgia’s 2nd Congressional District gathered for a debate in Americus on Monday, May 13.

The debate was held in partnership with both WTVM (Columbus, GA) and WALB (Albany, GA) with representatives from both stations serving as panelists. Dr. Jason Berggren of Georgia Southwestern State University served as the moderator.

The event took place at Jackson Hall on the campus of Georgia Southwestern State University. Candidates Chuck Hand, Dr. Wayne Johnson, Regina “Reggie” Liparoto and Michael Nixon were all in attendance. The winner of the upcoming Republican primary election will go on to face the Democratic incumbent Congressman Sanford Bishop in the November general election.

U.S. Representative Mike Collins (R-Jackson) faces a Democratic challenge in November, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Incumbent Rep. Mike Collins, a first-term lawmaker, emerged from a crowded Republican primary in 2022, beating seven other candidates to win the nomination. He also beat his Democratic opponent, Tabitha Johnson-Green, in the 2022 general election, winning 64.5% of the vote. He replaced former Rep. Jody Hice, who ran for Secretary of State in 2022 but lost to Brad Raffensperger.

A newcomer to the political sphere, Lexy Doherty is an educational consultant with Doherty Educational Consultants. Jessica Fore is a real estate agent and Christian leader in Athens. She previously ran for the District 10 seat in 2022, but lost in the primary to Tabitha Johnson-Green.

Doherty and Fore will have to face off during the Democratic primary before battling Collins in the November general election.

Georgia State House District 143 voters will elect a new Representative due to the retirement of incumbent State Rep. James Beverly (D-Macon) , according to State Affairs.

House District 143 is a newly redrawn district that now extends from Macon to Warner Robins. That redistricting prompted the departure of longtime incumbent Rep. James Beverly, D-Macon. His term ends in January.

Democrat Anissa Jones and Republican Barbara Boyer are vying for Beverly’s seat. Both are uncontested in the primary.

The two appear on the May 21 primary ballots, but the primary is, in effect, a dress rehearsal for the Nov. 5 general election because neither has a primary opponent.

Four candidates are running for Chatham County Coroner, according to the Savannah Morning News.

One of the most hotly contested Chatham County races this primary election season is for the Coroner’s Office. The primary responsibility of county coroners in the state of Georgia is to investigate death by helping to establish the cause and manner of death. As an elected position, however, the coroner is not required to be a medical professional or hold certifications in pathology..

Here are the four candidates vying for the position.

David Campbell – Incumbent

James Vernard Flowers – Democrat

Charles O’Berry – Democrat

Tiffany Williams – Republican

Two of the challengers for Coroner are criticizing the incumbent for an alleged conflict of interest, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Two of the three challengers, Democrats James Vernard Flowers and Charles O’Berry, have called into question Campbell’s ownership of a funeral home while he is serving as the elected coroner. A third challenger, Republican Tiffany Williams, alleged that she quit the Coroner’s Office, where she worked for about 20 years, due to a disagreement with Campbell.

Each of the three challengers are running on a platform to reduce the death certificate backlog.

Campbell said during his tenure that he has reduced the death certificate backlog to 30 days ― much shorter than the multiple months it was before he took office and much shorter than the other candidates allege. Before he took office, Campbell said the death certificate backlog was “months, months, months.”

Brooklet will elect a new City Council member in a Special Election on Tuesday, according to Georgia Virtue.

The city gave notice Tuesday of the call for a special election on May 21, 2024, in the City of Brooklet to elect a Councilmember for the unexpired term of Councilmember Post #5.

The election will take place separately from the primary election slated for that date, however.

The Special Election will be held “separate and apart” from the county election, on Tuesday, May 21, 2024. The polling location will be Bulloch County Recreation Department, Brooklet Community Center, 416 N. Cromley Road, Brooklet, Georgia 30415, and the poll shall open at 7:00 A.M. and close at 7:00 P.M. on the date set for the election.

The Gwinnett Daily Post has a Q&A with the candidates for Gwinnett County Sheriff.

The funeral service for the late Muscogee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stacey Jackson was held yesterday, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Dozens of friends, family and colleagues filed through the doors of Cascade Hills Thursday afternoon to pay their final respects to Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Stacey Jackson. Jackson died on May 5 after battling an illness after serving nearly two years in office after being appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp. Local politicians, judges, lawyers, officials and law enforcement attended the service. These are excerpts from that service.

Jackson died on May 5 after battling an illness after serving nearly two years in office after being appointed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp.

The Georgia State Transportation Board voted to move ahead with toll lanes on I-285, according to the Capitol Beat News Service.

The State Transportation Board voted Thursday to work with the State Road and Tollway Authority (SRTA) to add toll lanes to the top half of I-285 and along Georgia 400 to the North Springs MARTA station.

As with the Northwest Corridor along I-75 north of 285 and a second stretch of I-75 just south of Atlanta, the Georgia Department of Transportation will work in partnership with the private sector on the 285 toll-lane projects. The DOT will coordinate the work, while a private developer will design, construct, operate, and maintain the new lanes, Helen Pinkston-Pope, senior counsel to the DOT, said Thursday.

“We really see the benefits in bringing in the developer early on,” she said.

As with the earlier toll-lane projects, SRTA will coordinate the financing and collect the revenue from the tolls.

In a related matter, Matthews said the DOT has received two bids from contractors interested in adding toll lanes to Georgia 400 in Fulton and Forsyth counties. The agency will evaluate the bids and recommend a contractor for that project to the State Transportation Board in August, he said.

The Georgia Department of Transportation will host an open house to discuss options for the Talmadge Bridge, according to WSAV.

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) is hosting an open house on Monday regarding the future of the Talmadge Bridge.

It’s happening from 6 to 8 p.m. at the Coastal Georgia Center (305 Fahm St., Savannah).

GDOT says the bridge is structurally sound but poses a challenge for larger ships attempting to access the Port of Savannah, which could stifle future growth.

“This project seeks to address that limitation by examining long-term improvement alternatives and proceeding into conceptual engineering/scoping, detailed cost estimates, and preliminary environmental studies,” the project website reads. “There is no timeline or funding currently identified for a preferred alternative.”

Savannah Chatham County Public School System heard a presentation on how population changes could affect education, according to WTOC.

By 2028, 20% of elementary schools and five out of the six K-8 schools in the Savannah Chatham County Public School System will be what they call “overutilized,” meaning they have more students than they were designed for.

That all comes from data collected by the Chatham County-Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission.

“Some of the things that we did was examine the population growth trends,” said Melanie Wilson, Executive Director, Savannah Metropolitan Planning Commission.

When looking at projections from 2023-2040, the population is set to increase by more than 39,000 people but what does that look like inside the classroom?

Based on demographic studies done by the MPC for school-aged students, the district will see the biggest increases in people ages 10-19, leading to the overutilization of some schools.

Bibb County Board of Education has a proposed FY 2025 budget that might require higher property taxes, according to 13WMAZ.

The Bibb County School District wants to be more competitive with their pay scale, so they’re considering raises across the board.

But to make that plan work, it may mean higher property taxes. Superintendent Dan Sims says the district is behind districts of similar size, so they want to bridge the gap.

That’s the cornerstone of the budget, he says. Certified teachers would see a $2,500 salary bump from the state, plus another 2% from the district. Non-certified employees would get a 5% raise. Some of those employees, like para-professionals, bus drivers, groundskeepers and school resource officers would get up to 10%.

“Identified leadership positions” from assistant principals to deputy superintendents would get a 2% pay boost. The district’s chief communications officer, technology administrator, communications manager and director of talent would each get specified raises ranging from $22,475 to $3,045, according to the proposed budget presentation from the board’s last work session.

“Those raises are in response to that research that we were able to do with a consultant to show us how far behind we were,” Sims said.

Sims told the school board last week he recommended they choose the budget that would raise their millage rate by 1.5 mills. That means the owner of a $100,000 house would pay about $50 more in property taxes. Sims says it’s all about planning for the future.

The school district’s millage rate is separate from the Macon-Bibb County millage rate. The school board and county commissioners each approve their own rates. Those are added together to help determine your property tax bill.

United States Secretary of Agriculture Tom Vilsack spoke in Albany, according to the Albany Herald.

Every year, the event serves as a way to bring educational resources and opportunities to underserved farmers. According to the latest census of agriculture, sales of farm products contribute more than $13.2 billion to Georgia’s economy.

That’s why Vilsack said it’s important to continue providing resources to farmers in need.

“The reality is there’s a lot of ways in which you can be underserved,” Vilsack said. “You can be underserved because of color. You can be underserved because of your financial circumstances and condition. You can be underserved based on what you grow and what you raise in terms of people not being able to understand these specialty crops as well. The idea here is to make sure we’re providing services, programs, basically address the needs of all farmers not just a select few farmers.”

The 2024 conference theme is Rebuilding Rural America Through Equitable Access to United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Resources and is designed to connect underserved farmers and communities with the plethora of resources available within the USDA.

Shirley Sherrod, the executive director, said with her annual farm field day, she’s hoping to identify more farmers who may need her help.

“It’s just mind-boggling to me that we still run into farmers that don’t know they can get funding through a conservation plan,” she said. “This is one way to bring farmers together, to share with each other and to learn from each other and then expose them to people from the United States Department of Agriculture.”

Throughout a 14-county service area, the Sherrod Institute says Baker County has the most underserved farmers with 1 out of 10 left with limited resources. But with the help of USDA services like the Inflation Reduction Act, Vilsack said equity in agricultural communities can continue to advance.

The Augusta City Commission Finance Committee voted to move ahead with an audit of the Parks and Recreation Department, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

This week the city commission’s finance committee voted 3-1 to hire UHY Consulting to conduct an independent audit of 10 areas in the recreation department.  UHY’s bid of $71,764 to conduct the audit was the lowest of bids the city received.

Finance Committee members Jordan Johnson, Stacy Pulliam, and Wayne Guilfoyle voted to hire UHY. Francine Scott voted no.

The contract requires UHY to complete the audit within 90 days.

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