The blog.

1
Oct

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for October 1, 2019

Peanut Nashville

Peanut is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the City of Nashville GA Animal Shelter in Nashville, GA.

Peanut is the sweetest little lab puppy you will ever meet. She was picked up as a stray and her owners did not come for her. She would love a family that will keep her safe and make her a part of their family for the rest of her life.

Diamond Nashville

Diamond is a young female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the City of Nashville GA Animal Shelter in Nashville, GA.

Brownie Nashville

Brownie is a young male Terrier mix  who is available for adoption from the City of Nashville GA Animal Shelter in Nashville, GA.

1
Oct

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for October 1, 2019

Original Communist (O.C.) Karl Marx published Das Kapital on October 1, 1867.

Voters in the state of Washington adopted the state constitution on October 1, 1889.

The first World Series of baseball opened on October 1, 1903.

On October 1, 1908, Ford introduced the Model T.

Former President Jimmy Carter was born on October 1, 1924 at Wise Sanitarium in Plains, Georgia, the first American President to be born in a hospital.

President Franklin D. Roosevelt visited Warm Springs, Georgia for the 21st time beginning on October 1, 1931.

In a Special Election October 1, 1940, Florence Gibbs became the first woman elected to Congress from Georgia, completing her late husband’s term and serving through January 3, 1941, but no standing for a full term of her own.

Chinese Communist leader Mao Zedong proclaimed the Communist People’s Republic of China on October 1, 1949.

The Carter Center in Atlanta was dedicated on October 1, 1986.

Mikhail Gorbachev named himself Chairman of the USSR’s Supreme Soviet on October 1, 1988.

President George H.W. Bush condemned Iraq’s takeover of Kuwait in a speech to the United Nations on October 1, 1990.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Today is the House District 71 Special Runoff Election, and no one could be happier than the Newnan Times-Herald editor who headlined the story, Hallelujah: HD 71 runoff is Tuesday.

Polls in District 71 in Coweta and Fayette counties will be open from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. for voting.

Republicans Marcy Sakrison and Philip Singleton were the top-two finishers in the Sept. 3 special election, but neither got a majority, meaning a runoff election is required.

Early voting for the election wrapped up Friday. Because of the short runoff time frame, there was only one week of early voting. There were a total of 983 early votes cast, said Jane Scoggins, Coweta elections supervisor.

That’s compared to 1,673 early votes for the Sept. 3 election, in which there were three weeks of early voting.

Governor Brian Kemp will be in Valdosta this week, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

— Kemp is listed as the special guest Tuesday evening, Oct. 1, for the Boy Scouts of America Distinguished Citizen’s Award Banquet honoring Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk at James H. Rainwater Conference Center.

— The governor is scheduled to participate in the Homebuilders Association of South Georgia luncheon, noon Wednesday, Oct. 2, at Birdie’s, downtown.

— Kemp is scheduled to attend the groundbreaking ceremony for Arglass, a glass manufacturer for the alcohol industry, Thursday morning, Oct. 3, on Rocky Ford Road. Valdosta-Lowndes County Development Authority spearheaded bringing the manufacturer to South Georgia. Arglass is expected to bring at least 150 jobs to Lowndes County.

— First Lady Marty Kemp is scheduled to visit Nashville in neighboring Berrien County. She is scheduled to attend the ribbon-cutting ceremony for Jacob’s Well Wednesday morning, Oct. 2.

The Georgia House and Senate are requesting budget documents from state agencies, according to the AJC.

After getting little information on the subject during hearings last week, the Georgia House and Senate are asking state agencies to turn over the unedited plans they submitted to the Kemp administration to meet the governor’s demand for 4% budget cuts this year and 6% next year.

The memo to state agencies was sent Monday, the day before they will begin receiving less money to run everything from the state patrol and prisons to environmental protection and agriculture education programs.

Joint House and Senate budget hearings were held last week, but they largely consisted of economists talking about the possibility of a recession. Kelly Farr, head of Kemp’s Office of Planning and Budget, told lawmakers the governor is still reviewing the budget cut plans.

The House and Senate budget offices are now requesting copies of the unedited plans and any supporting documentation from agencies.

Georgia State House Speaker Pro Tem Jan Jones has applied for appointment by Gov. Kemp to the United States Senate, according to a press release.

Georgia House Speaker Pro-Tempore Jan Jones (R-Milton) today applied to Governor Brian Kemp for the appointment to succeed U.S. Senator Johnny Isakson.

“If given the honor of serving our great state in the U.S. Senate, I will work tirelessly as your partner on behalf of all Georgians in support of conservative policies that will bring greater prosperity and opportunity,” Rep. Jones wrote in a letter to Gov. Kemp. “No one will outwork me as I fight for votes alongside Senator Perdue and President Trump in all corners of the state for the 2020 election – and then proudly share a ticket with you in 2022. I have the experience, I have the know-how, and I have the work ethic to win and serve our state’s 10.5 million residents.”

Rep. Jones, the highest-ranking female legislator in the history of the Georgia General Assembly, said her family has experienced the American dream of each generation doing better than the one before.

“Our challenge now is to make improvements on this success story,” she said. “I know conservative governance provides the best means for a higher quality of life and prosperity for Georgia families. And I know government should seek to strengthen families, not replace them, and encourage self-reliance, not undermine it.”

Rep. Jones’ resume highlights the legislative work she’s done to expand school choice, protect taxpayers from the costs of Obamacare and crack down on human trafficking. She’s strongly supported efforts to promote the sanctity of life and protect Second Amendment rights, as well as standing up against illegal immigration and banning sanctuary city policies.

“I greatly admire the lifetime of service that Senator Isakson has given to us and will strive to continue his legacy of servant leadership,” Rep. Jones wrote in the closing of her letter. “I submit myself for your consideration as a candidate for U.S. Senate committed to win the seat in 2020 and 2022 and always put Georgians and Americans first in every way.”

From the AJC:

While some Republicans snicker that she could not survive a competitive primary — she’s rarely faced determined opposition in her establishment-friendly district — Kemp’s blessing could scare away the threat of a conservative challenge.

At this point, most handicappers would have to name Jones and U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, as the top competitors for the U.S. Senate spot.

Collins has strong connections to President Donald Trump, given his position as the ranking Republican on the House Judiciary Committee. Jones has stronger connections to Kemp.

Both Collins and Jones are close to House Speaker David Ralston. The latter received this bouquet from the speaker on Monday:

“Speaker Pro Tem Jones is a trusted leader who has earned the respect of colleagues on both sides of the aisle. She has a proven record of fighting for Georgia values, particularly improving educational opportunities for young people.”

The Georgia Supreme Court open seat gained another candidate, according to the AJC.

Superior Court Judge Horace Johnson’s decision to join the field further scrambles the race.

He is the only black candidate so far in the running for the seat held by retiring Justice Robert Benham, the high court’s first African-American jurist. And he entered after an intense effort in African-American legal circles to draft a black candidate.

Johnson paired his announcement with an endorsement from Larry Thompson, a former deputy U.S. Attorney in George W. Bush’s administration. Thompson called Johnson “fair, experienced, compassionate, in love with the law and determined to get to the right decision.”

The format of the nonpartisan race makes it even more unpredictable. It will be decided not in November 2020, but in May — concurrent with statewide primaries. With four candidates now in the field, it likely won’t be settled until a July runoff between the top two finishers.

The AJC reports that voter registration is surging ahead of the 2020 elections.

More than 352,000 people signed up to vote in the past 11 months, the vast majority of them automatically registering when they obtain a driver’s license, according to data from the secretary of state’s office. The influx has boosted Georgia’s voter rolls to a record high of nearly 7.4 million.

Many of the new voters are racial minorities or under age 30, both groups that are more likely to support Democrats than Republicans, according to a Pew Research Center poll.

About 47% of the new voters who identified their race are minorities and 45% are age 30 or younger, according to an analysis by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution of a list of voters registered from Nov. 6 to Aug. 12. By comparison, 40% of all Georgia voters are minorities and 14% are age 30 or younger. The voter list was obtained from the secretary of state’s office and provided to the AJC by Fair Fight PAC, a political action committee that supports Democratic parties nationwide.

Similar numbers of new voters have been added to the rolls each year since September 2016, when Georgia started automatic voter registration at driver’s license offices. About 365,000 new voters have registered each year at Georgia’s driver’s license offices since the beginning of 2017, for a total of 989,000 new voters, according to the secretary of state’s office.

Dredging of the Inner Harbor in Savannah is underway, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I’m grateful to stand before you today and deliver what I think amounts to the best news yet for the Savannah Harbor, and that is that the final construction phase for the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project as of today our efforts begin on the actual deepening of the inner harbor,” said Col. Daniel Hibner, commander of the Savannah District, U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. He spoke to a crowd of local, state and national officials gathered at the Westin Savannah Harbor Golf Resort and Spa.

“The action of putting a dredge in these waters to deepen the channel is evidence that we have delivered on our environmental stewardship promises. A lot of mitigation work led to this moment and is still being accomplished. We’ve proven that we can deliver on critical environmental demands, and now the remaining portion of this channel is on its way to 47 feet.”

The project is expected to net more than $282 million in annual benefits to the nation and has a benefit-to-cost ratio of $7.30 for every $1 invested, according to the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. The total cost of the project is about $973 million.

The harbor deepening will allow larger cargo ships to call on the Port of Savannah with a longer tide window and with heavier loads of imports and exports.

“At the end of the day the Georgia Ports Authority’s effort, along with the Corps’, delivers a strong message that Savannah is prepared for growth and poised to maintain its role as a leader in global commerce,” [Georgia Ports Authority Executive Director Griff] Lynch said.

Candidates for Mayor of Tybee Island met in a forum, according to The Savannah Morning News.

The trio of candidates — Tybee Island City Council members Wanda Doyle and Shirley Sessions, and general contractor and businessman Mack Kitchens — gathered at the Burke Day Public Safety Building on Sept. 30 for this forum hosted by the League of Women Voters Coastal Georgia, Forever Tybee, 100 Miles, the Junior League of Savannah, and Savannah Morning News.

The candidates were asked questions that they had not reviewed in advance on a variety of topics ranging from environmental conservation to the proliferation of golf-cart rentals on this visitor-destination island. Following brief introductions, Doyle, Kitchens, and Sessions answered related but randomly chosen inquiries, with their responses being meticulously timed.

The Glynn County Commission is considering a ban on renting vehicles from public property, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County Commissioner Bob Coleman and his wife will be tried in Glynn County Superior Court beginning November 4, according to The Brunswick News.

Both Colemans were charged by a Glynn County grand jury in January with 15 counts of felony violation of the Georgia Insurance Code — five counts of insurance fraud and nine counts of violating the Georgia Insurance Code’s reporting and disposition of premium requirement.

Both Bob and Sherry Coleman have maintained their innocence. In June, Bob Coleman released a statement appealing to the public to hold him innocent until proven guilty.

Bob Coleman was elected to a third four-year term in the At-large seat Post 2 seat on the Glynn County Commission in 2016. He was first elected to the commission in 2008.

Oakwood will hold a second public meeting on a proposed property tax millage rate that is higher than the full rollback, according to the Gainesville Times.

Oakwood is proposing to keep its tax rate the same, but residents who have seen property values increase would see a tax increase, if the rate is approved.

The city’s tax rate is 4.174 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 for each $1,000 in assessed property value.

The city’s finance director, Carl Stephens, has said that to keep the city revenues the same, the tax rate would have to be lowered to 4.014 mills.

Residents whose tax values remained the same would see no changes in their tax bill and residents whose tax values dropped would see their taxes drop.

30
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 30, 2019

Candy Corn PAWS Humane

Candy Corn is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Pumpkin Spice PAWS Humane

Pumpkin Spice is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

Mazie PAWS Humane

Mazie is a young female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from PAWS Humane in Columbus, GA.

How I Got Here: – Columbus Animal Care and Control

Academics: – Sit – Stare

Recess: – Lounging around with my human – Peanut Butter Kongs! – Basking in the sun

Personality Traits: – Gentle – Quiet – Loving

Interesting Fact About Me: – I love all things comfy, from orthopedic beds to your couch!

30
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 30, 2019

Wyoming adopted the first state constitution to allow women to vote on September 30, 1889.

President Woodrow Wilson spoke in favor of Women’s Suffrage in an address to Congress on September 30, 1918. The bill to pass the 19th Amendment would die in the Senate that year after passing the House.

On September 30, 1927, Babe Ruth hit his 60th home run of the season.

On September 30, 1976, Democrat Jimmy Carter led the Harris Poll for President over President Gerald Ford by a 50-41 margin. In November 1976, the popular vote tallied 50.08% for Carter to 48.01% for Ford, with an Independent taking nearly a point.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Gwinnett County Sheriff’s Office will host a blood drive in honor of a local native who was disabled in the military, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Snellville native and U.S. Army Special Forces staff sergeant [Justin Lascek] was in critical condition in March after a life-threatening injury during his second deployment to Afghanistan. An improvised explosive device exploded during a combat operation in a mountainous area. It cost Lascek both his legs, but not his life. One of Lascek’s friends died in the explosion.

Hoffman said her son lives in Colorado, but she will be on hand at the blood drive to greet donors. The sheriff’s office hosted a blood drive in honor of fallen Gwinnett County Police Department officer Antwan Toney in February. Members of Toney’s friends and family made the trip to Lawrenceville from Los Angeles.

Volkodav said the sheriff’s office was eager to host the drive because of the military connections of several of its deputies and staff. Military and law enforcement share the same discipline and focus, and it makes for good partnerships.

She encouraged those interested in participating to register at redcrossblood.org.

“I think most citizens are deeply appreciative of people who chose a life of service,” Volkodav said. “Whether your career is in service of your country or community, most people have a deep appreciation of people who chose that life of services. Certainly law enforcement officers, who often suffer and risk lives, we can appreciate the military.”

Former Cobb County Commission Chair Tim Lee has died, according to WSB-TV.

Former Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee has died following a battle with cancer, his family confirmed Sunday afternoon.

Lee was surrounded by his family when he died at Northeast Georgia Medical Center about 1:30 p.m., according to family spokeswoman Kellie Brownlow.

Lee may be best known for bringing SunTrust Park and the Braves to Cobb County by negotiating the public financing deal.

“The Braves will tell you there is no SunTrust Park without Tim Lee,” Brownlow said. “He had a vision for this area. He wanted the Cumberland CID area to be a place where people lived and worked and played, and when this opportunity came along, he said this was what he was waiting for.”

Brownlow sent this statement on behalf of Lee’s son, Christian Lee.

“My father died peacefully surrounded by friends and family. He fought his disease with courage and tenacity, but in the end, God had different plans. Our family is humbled by the legacy my dad leaves behind, one that not only includes the Atlanta Braves, an economic juggernaut for the future growth and prosperity of Cobb County, but also one of a man with integrity in his decisions, who fearlessly led and did so with a playfulness and humor for which he will be so missed.”

Georgia Office of Planning and Budget Director Kelly Farr addressed the legislature’s Appropriations Committee, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia’s budget director told lawmakers on Friday that Gov. Brian Kemp is trying to avoid state employee layoffs even as he orders budget cuts.

Office of Planning and Budget Director Kelly Farr, speaking Friday before a joint meeting of the House and Senate Appropriations Committees, told lawmakers that state officials don’t entirely understand why revenue collections are lagging.

The Republican governor has ordered agencies to cut 4% from their budgets this year and proposed 6% cuts from the 2021 budget that lawmakers will write beginning in January. Many areas of the $27.5 billion budget are exempt from cuts, however, including most education services and the state-federal Medicaid program. This year’s cuts, which begin next week, amount to about $200 million. Next year’s cuts would be about $300 million.

Farr noted that when a number of agencies reported they planned job cuts, he sent a letter last week telling them to justify why they weren’t cutting other expenses instead. He said budget staffers are examining how many state agency jobs are vacant and how many employees normally quit, retire or are fired. He said officials are also examining travel, vendor contracts and other expenses.

State House District 71 voters will go to the polls in the Special Runoff Election tomorrow, according to the AJC.

Newnan-area voters will choose between two Republican candidates Tuesday in a runoff election that’s become a referendum of sorts on House Speaker David Ralston.

Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison and Philip Singleton received the most votes in a special election earlier this month to replace former state Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan.

Singleton has fashioned himself as the anti-establishment candidate, picking up the baton from Stover in calling for Ralston to step down from his position as House speaker, the top job in the chamber.

Sakrison, the daughter of a former state House Republican leader and congressman, is supported by prominent Republicans, including Ralston. Ralston donated $2,800 to Sakrison. Other Republican lawmakers donated at least $10,500 to Sakrison, and several lobbyists and statehouse special interests also donated to her campaign.

“Speaker Ralston, I believe, is supporting me because the person who was in the seat before me voted no to just about everything — and the guy running against me has essentially pledged to do the same,” she said. “The speaker is not supporting me because I am going to be his pawn. I’m going to represent House District 71.”

Georgia State House Speaker David Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) appointed two new members to the House Rural Development Council, according to the Albany Herald.

State Rep. Gerald Greene, R-Cuthbert, has been appointed as a member, and Rep. Greg Morris, R-Vidalia, has been named an ex-officio member.

“Chairman Greene and Chairman Morris are respected leaders in our House who have a deep commitment to the quality of life in rural Georgia,” Ralston said. “I know they will lend their expertise to the ongoing conversations on critical issues like broadband, infrastructure and work force development as the RDC works to expand opportunity across the state.”

Greene will fill the vacancy on the RDC left by the resignation of Rep. Ed Rynders, R-Leesburg.

Morris will be an ex-officio member in his capacity as chairman of the Banks and Banking Committee.

The House Rural Development Council, which was reauthorized by House Resolution 214 during the 2019 legislative session, will continue to work with rural communities to find ways to encourage economic growth.

The Georgia Chamber of Commerce will host a Rural Prosperity Summit in Tifton, according to the Albany Herald.

This year’s Rural Prosperity Summit will feature policy leaders, senior governmental officials, entrepreneurs and business owners, academics, economic development practitioners and other partners impacting rural communities.

The summit is held to foster what Georgia Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Chris Clark calls the “Rural Renaissance.”

Taking place Tuesday and Wednesday at the University of Georgia Tifton Campus Conference Center, the summit is an annual two-day event that brings together hundreds of business leaders and elected officials who are passionate about creating vibrant, robust rural communities throughout the state.

The two-day event will feature speakers, practitioner panels and small group conversations presenting possible solutions for challenges facing today’s struggling rural communities. The event offers attendees an opportunity to share new ideas and make connections.

Summit topics will focus on health care, rural education and work force, the opioid epidemic, housing, defense, rural economic development trends and tactics, civic health, nonprofits, cybersecurity, manufacturing and entrepreneurship.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has issued a burn ban, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Georgia Environmental Protection Division has set summer burning restrictions to reduce emissions from ground level ozone that may jeopardize air quality, according to a Georgia Forestry Commission Chief news release.

Nearly all Middle Georgia counties — Bibb, Monroe, Houston and Peach — were among the 54 counties under the summer restrictions.

Merwither and Troup counties near the Chattahoochee Valley were also placed under restrictions.

The Georgia Forestry Commission will resume issuing burn permits in these counties once the restrictions are lifted on Oct. 1, according to the release.

“We recognize the importance of and promote prescribed burning for the many wildfire prevention, forest management and agriculture benefits it provides… We’re asking everyone to be extremely vigilant when doing any open burning, including burning yard debris,” Sorrells said in the release.

Democrat Jon Ossoff will launch a voter registration drive in his campaign for the United States Senate seat held by Republican Sen. David Perdue, according to the AJC.

At his first campaign rally since announcing a U.S. Senate run, Democrat Jon Ossoff and his allies promised an ambitious new voter registration effort Saturday to help oust President Donald Trump and U.S. Sen. David Perdue in 2020.

“I want the national Democratic Party to invest in the state of Georgia,” said U.S. Rep. John Lewis, speaking to a few hundred people at the MLK Recreation Center in Atlanta. “We can turn the state around and make it blue.”

Ossoff, one of four Democrats challenging Perdue, has taken a different stance [from Rep. Lewis]. He said he supports impeachment if allegations prove true that Trump “pressured a foreign power to smear his political opponent, dangling security assistance as leverage.”

Much of the rally focused on rolling out what Ossoff has promised will be the largest statewide voter registration drive in state history when taken together with other partisan efforts and Stacey Abrams’ initiatives. He said his campaign and others should build on the work from Abrams and the New Georgia Project, a voter registration effort she helped launch.

He also said his campaign’s attorneys were ready to bring lawsuits or join legal challenges to contest potential voting rights violations.

The Gwinnett Daily Post covers the impeachment positions of candidates for the Seventh Congressional District.

Gwinnett voters will see a Democratic candidate for Sheriff on the ballot for the first time in nearly three decades, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Twenty-seven years.

That’s how long it has been since a Democrat ran for sheriff. It was 1992 and James “Jim” Keinard was the Democratic Party’s nominee against Republican Jim Carsten.

Carsten won in a landslide.

Next year’s election for sheriff will break a nearly three decade trend of the sheriff’s office appearing on general election ballots without the Democrats putting up a candidate for the office. Although the county’s longtime sheriff, Butch Conway, has faced write-in opponents and challengers from within the Republican Party before, he’s never faced a Democrat in an election.

Not only will there be a Democrat running for sheriff in 2020, but five people — Curtis Clemons, Keybo Taylor, Ben Haynes, Floyd Scott and — have already jumped in the race to seek the party’s nomination for the seat.

Republicans began sweeping offices in Gwinnett in the 1980s as the GOP rose to prominence in the county and the Democratic Party went into a decline.

“At one point, you literally could have been laughed out of the room if you ran as a Democrat in Gwinnett County,” Curtis Clemons said.

The last few election cycles, particularly the 2016 and 2018 elections, have shown a major shift happening in Gwinnett politics as the county’s electorate grows more diverse alongside its overall population diversity.

Columbus attracted more than 2 million tourists and $364 million dollars in the last year, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

According to the local visitor’s bureau, 2.3 million people visited the city in fiscal year 2019, which is an increase of 400,000 people over the year before.

It’s the first time that number has broken 2 million, according to Peter Bowden, president and chief executive officer of Visit Columbus GA.

Bowden said the city has “matured as a destination,” giving people reason to come, stay a while and spend their hard-earned cash. The local economy was infused with $364 million from tourism between July 1, 2018 and June 30, 2019, according to the visitor’s bureau.

“We have a lot of cool stuff going on in Columbus these days. Visitors come and find their niche and what they’re into: art, food, adventure, those kinds of things,” Bowden said. “We’ve really gotten in stride and positioned ourselves as a destination.”

The market has also shifted as more people visit the city as tourists, as opposed to coming to attend a Fort Benning graduation, a RiverCenter concert or a business conference.

The Georgia National Fair opens its thirtieth season this week, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The fair began in 1990 with 270,000 people attending. Today it draws about half million people over 11 days. It drew nearly that many last year even after having to shut down for a day when Hurricane Michael struck the state.

Randall Walker, the newly elected mayor of Perry, said the fair has a big impact on the city.

“It brings a large number of people to our city that would not come naturally,” he said. “I think the partnership between the fairgrounds and city is extremely strong.”

Stephen Shimp, the executive director of the agricenter, said the annual budget is about $10 million. The state provides about $1 million of that, he said, most of which goes to youth programs. The remainder of the annual funding comes from revenue generated by the fairgrounds from the events held there.

Shimp said a study conducted by the University of Georgia determined that the agricenter generates at least $5 million in sales taxes each year from people coming into the state for events there. The study found that overall the facility has an economic impact of $80 million annually.

“There’s a good return on that $1 million,” he said.

Whitfield County Sheriff’s Deputies helped train law enforcement in pursuit techniques, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

During August the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office — working with the Georgia Public Safety Training Center (GPSTC) — had the opportunity to provide High Speed Track Training for the entire Uniform Patrol Division.

The Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office has been performing the Precision Immobilization Technique (PIT) since 2015. This maneuver is used in an attempt to end a high-speed chase as quickly as possible to limit the danger to the general public that such a chase presents.

“While the PIT maneuver is extremely effective in ending a chase, it cannot be performed if our deputies can’t catch up to the vehicle that they are pursuing,” said Lt. Juan Martinez, training officer for the sheriff’s office.

Deputies are often involved in high-speed pursuits with vehicles that are far better equipped for high speeds and criminals that are generally not concerned with obeying traffic laws, he said.

“For these very reasons the Training Division along with the captain of Uniform Patrol, Clay Pangle, determined that the only way to even the odds is to make our deputies better drivers at high speeds,” Martinez said. “This is not something that would be easy to accomplish as there is no location in our area to conduct such training and then we would also have the issue of the abuse this would cause to the Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office’s fleet.”

Whitfield County will open a new fire station on October 11, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Glynn County Commissioners discussed a possible 2020 Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) election, according to The Brunswick News.

A new SPLOST — a one percent sales tax approved or denied by public vote — will be on the ballot in the May 2020 primary election. Proceeds from the tax must be spent on whatever is outlined on the ballot.

While the general outline on the ballot will likely not include the full list, each government entity has generally stuck to the lists of projects they released prior to the SPLOST 2016 vote.

The city of Brunswick and the Brunswick Glynn County Joint Water and Sewer Commission are still working on setting their priorities. The Jekyll Island Authority submitted its final list, while Glynn County released a wishlist of projects county commissioners will cut to fit projected revenue from SPLOST 2020.

Foremost on county commissioners’ minds is an expansion of the Glynn County Courthouse and infrastructure.

Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy will host a Town Hall on St Simons Island, according to The Brunswick News.

Glynn County residents interested in hearing about St. Simons Island issues are encouraged to attend Glynn County Commissioner Peter Murphy’s next quarterly town hall meeting on Wednesday.

“The whole concept behind the town halls, which is something no other commissioner has, is to transmit information to the public who may not know this because they haven’t been utilizing information sources,” Murphy said. “We’ve been working on quite a few things, and some of them are more controversial than others.”

On the agenda — in no particular order — are topics such as hurricane preparedness and where the community can find up-to-date information, impact fees, Neptune Park trees, a $2.5 million shoreline protection grant, pickle-ball courts, short-term rental regulations, the special- purpose, local-option sales tax and related infrastructure projects, clarifying right of way laws regarding bicycles, the county’s new golf cart ordinance and a new drug drop-off box at the Glynn County Police Department’s St. Simons Island precinct.

Statesboro City Council will meet twice on Tuesday, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council has two meetings Tuesday morning: the regular meeting at 9 a.m., but first, a special meeting with City Manager Charles W. Penny and a consultant at 7:30 a.m.

Both meetings will be held in the council chambers at City Hall. City officials have issued an agenda stating that the 7:30 a.m. meeting’s first order of business after the call to order will be “consideration of a motion to enter executive session to disuss ‘personnel matters.’” This is apparently based on an assertion that this closed-door session will involve evalution of Penny, who has been on the job exactly three months.

One action on the 9 a.m. regular, open meeting agenda is the second reading and likely adoption of an ordinance establishing new alcoholic beverage license types. This follows the renewal of licenses on a special six-month basis while the license fees were determined and to reset the renewal date to Jan. 1.

Statesboro City Council District 3 member Jeff Yawn is running for reelection, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Yawn faces a challenger, Venus Mack, in the Nov. 5 municipal election. Occurring in the middle of the mayor’s term, this election will not be citywide. Only Districts 2, 3 and 5 will elect council members, and all three districts have two-candidate contests.

The Bulloch County Board of Education discussed how property tax relief for seniors would work, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Any exemption for Bulloch County senior citizens from the school-funding property tax would likely take the form of a local addition to the existing statewide, limited exemption for people age 62 and older.

Troy Brown, Bulloch County Schools’ chief financial officer, presented that interpretation Thursday evening at the Board of Education meeting. Having heard from citizens on both sides of the issue in August and from some proponents of the exemption again on Sept. 12, the board members discussed the question among themselves and with Brown and the superintendent Thursday.

School board members requested more information, including how much an increase in the exemption would cost the school system, but made no commitment to propose a local exemption, with some members citing the interests of students as their priority.

The Rome-Floyd Planning Commission will discuss proposed changes to rules on hotels, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Hotels are currently allowed by right in most commercial zoning districts, Planning Director Artagus Newell said during a presentation seeking input from the City Commission last month. That means they can be built without notice to nearby property owners, and without vetting by elected officials.

“If we shift it over to a special-use permit, it would go from just a development review to a zoning review,” Newell explained.

Commissioners have asked Newell to have the appointed citizen board consider the pros and cons of the issue. The planning commission meets at 2:30 p.m. in Rome City Hall, 601 Broad St.

Kenneth Bradshaw, the new Superintendent for Richmond County Schools, spoke to the Augusta Chronicle.

Q: What are the three biggest areas for improvement in the Richmond County school system?

A: Staying focused on student achievement is always going to be the No. 1 focus. We have many great initiatives in place. Since I was here before, I am aware of those initiatives. Some are new since I’ve been gone. We’ll do program evaluations to make sure the initiatives are yielding the results that we anticipate.

The second is making sure we have good communication with the internal and external stakeholders, making sure we are transparent and we are open and responsive to all of the concerns from our constituents.

The third would be community engagement – making sure we’re not just communicating to the public but making sure it’s a two-way communication and that our internal and external stakeholders stay engaged, whether that’s parent/teacher meetings, meet-and-greets, listening sessions, collaboration meetings with the chamber and our business partners and even listening to the students. We have a student advisory group.

Bald Eagles are being poisoned by an invasive water plant, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The water-loving hydrilla has brought a painful death to an untold number of American bald eagles and thousands of other water birds over the last 25 years — no one can say exactly how many. The plant isn’t killing the birds directly, but by providing a home for a new kind of cyanobacteria that produces a lethal toxin.

Scientists at the University of Georgia’s Southeastern Cooperative Wildlife Study were puzzled when they first began seeing the damage to the United States’ national bird — bald eagle carcasses found at an man-made Arkansas lake. Wildlife and lake managers also reported seeing distressing losses of motor control in eagles and in a water bird called the coot. Symptoms included wings that twitch but don’t flap and an inability to maintain balance.

Meanwhile, more and more afflicted birds began showing up in Arkansas, Georgia, and other Southeastern states, nowhere more than at Thurmond Lake, a man-made reservoir on the Savannah River between Georgia and South Carolina.

University of Georgia professor Susan Wilde saw patterns, though. Every lake where eagles were dying of AVM was man-made, and had been heavily invaded by hydrilla. The coots were eating the hydrilla, and the eagles found easy prey in the disabled coots.

Nowhere has Aetokthonos Hydrillicola’s killing ability been on display more than at Thurmond Lake, transformed into a kind of ecological death trap where some 105 AVM eagle deaths have been confirmed so far. Wildlife scientists believe the actual death toll is much higher, since most animal carcasses are never found.

Managers have had some success stocking Thurmond and other lakes with a kind of sterile grass-eating carp to gnaw away at the hydrilla, combined with sowing native water plants. The fish live 12 to 14 years, but don’t reproduce. Lake managers are also using chemical killers on the plants, though that carries its own set of environmental risks.

27
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 27, 2019

Camilla Gwinnett

Camilla is a 10-month old female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Biscuit Gwinnett

Biscuit is a 10-week old male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

Dolly Gwinnett

Dolly is a 10-month old female Belgian Malinois mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Gwinnett County Animal Shelter in Lawrenceville, GA.

27
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 27, 2019

William the Conqueror, Duke of Normandy, invaded England on September 28, 1066.

On September 29, 1526, 600 Spanish colonists led by Lucas Vasquez de Ayllon landed on the Georgia Coast, the first European colonists in Georgia.

Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on Sapelo Sound in present–day McIntosh County. He sailed north from Hispaniola during the summer and first landed in present–day South Carolina. Meeting no natives, he traveled south along the coast before settling in Georgia.

To help establish the colony, Ayllon brought with him the very first group of slaves.  But hunger, disease, and conflict with the natives all took their toll, and the settlement survived for only three months.

Other sources say that the September 29, 1526 landing was in South Carolina and Vasquez de Ayllon established San Miguel de Gualdape on October 8, 1526.

On September 27, 1779, John Jay, who previously served as President of the Continental Congress, was appointed minister to Spain to seek Spanish support for the revolution.

Washington Yorktown

General George Washington led continental troops into the siege of British forces under General Cornwallis at Yorktown, Virginia on September 28, 1781.

On September 28, 1863, two Union generals lost their commands after the Confederates routed federal forces at the Battle of Chickamauga.

On September 28, 1889, Georgia Governor John B. Gordon signed legislation designating January 19th a state holiday in honor of Robert E. Lee’s birthday. In 2015, Robert E. Lee’s birthday and Confederate Memorial Day were stricken from the Georgia calendar.

President Franklin Roosevelt made his ninth visit to Warm Springs, Georgia on September 27, 1927.

WSB-TV took to the airwaves for the first time on September 29, 1948.

September 27 is a red-letter day for the Atlanta Braves and pitcher John Smoltz. The team won a record 14th straight Division Championship on this day in 2005. Smoltz set a team record for regular season wins (24) on September 27, 1996 and extended his team record for strikeouts hitting 276.

On September 27, 2002, Smoltz set a National League record with 54 saves.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Powers That Be announced appointments to the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform & Innovation Commission. From a press release:

Governor Brian P. Kemp today announced nine appointees to the Georgia Behavioral Health Reform and Innovation Commission along with Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan and Speaker David Ralston, who each named six appointees, and Supreme Court of Georgia Chief Justice Harold Melton, who announced three appointees.

“This legislative session, we allocated $20 million for local health departments to better treat mental health issues and doubled funding for the successful APEX program in Georgia schools to help students in crisis,” said Governor Kemp. “Working together with communities and families, this commission of legislators, judges, subject-matter experts, and citizens will now examine how the state can improve access and delivery of behavioral health services for the people of Georgia.”

“Mental health is an issue that impacts everyone in our state regardless of socio-economics, race, age or gender,” Lieutenant Governor Duncan said. “Because of this, it is vital we take whatever steps necessary to evaluate the things we are doing right, as well as those things we could improve upon here in Georgia. I applaud the members of this commission who are ready and willing to provide their time and expertise to this important issue. I have no doubt their recommendations will be insightful and meaningful as we work together to ensure our best days are ahead of us.”

“Mental health is a critical quality of life issue to the citizens of our state,” said Speaker David Ralston. “Led by Chairman Kevin Tanner, I know that this distinguished group of legislators and citizens will work together to improve service delivery throughout our behavioral health system. I thank Governor Kemp, Lt. Governor Duncan and my colleagues in both the House and Senate for adopting this collaborative approach to achieve better outcomes.”

The Commission was created by House Bill 514.

Governor Kemp’s Appointees

▪ Rep. Kevin Tanner – Chairman
▪ Dr. Sarah Vinson
▪ Dr. DeJuan White
▪ Dr. Michael Robert Yochelson
▪ Jason Downey
▪ Dr. Joseph Bona
▪ Dr. Karen Bailey
▪ Miriam Shook
▪ Nora Lott Haynes

Lieutenant Governor Duncan’s Appointees

▪ Sen. Renee Unterman
▪ Sen. Donzella James
▪ Sheriff Andy Hester
▪ Wayne Senfeld
▪ Brenda Fitzgerald
▪ Cindy Levi

Speaker Ralston’s Appointees

▪ Rep. Don Hogan
▪ Rep. Mary Margaret Oliver
▪ Chief of Police Louis Dekmar
▪ Gwen Skinner
▪ Kim Jones
▪ Judge Brenda Weaver

Chief Justice Harold Melton’s Appointees

▪ Justice Michael Boggs
▪ Judge Brian J. Amero
▪ Judge Sara S. Harris

From the Daily Report:

Georgia executive, legislative and judicial leaders have put $20 million and a bunch of lawyers, lawmakers and judges behind an effort to improve treatment and services for those facing mental health challenges.

Governor Brian Kemp spoke in Hall County yesterday, according to the Gainesville Times.

Gov. Brian Kemp reflected on economic growth in the state and outlined goals of his administration when he spoke Thursday at the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce’s Board of Directors meeting.

Kemp was introduced by former Gov. Nathan Deal, who attended the meeting at Lanier Technical College with former First Lady Sandra Deal.

Georgia got 20,800 new jobs in August, Kemp said. Businesses have invested in 332 projects statewide over the past year, he said, and 74% of those were outside the perimeter.

Kemp said Thursday that other priorities include addressing sex trafficking and gang violence, and state groups have also been formed to research and tackle these issues.

National Public Radio, the soundtrack to most of my writing for GaPundit (and the rest of my life), profiled the collegial relationship between Congressman Doug Collins (R-GA) and Congressman Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY).

House lawmakers Hakeem Jeffries and Doug Collins couldn’t be more different.

Jeffries is a Democrat and an avid hip-hop devotee, while Collins is a Republican who favors country music. Jeffries hails from a largely urban New York district, and much further south, Collins represents a largely rural pocket in northeast Georgia.

Yet, somehow this duo found common ground to pass a major policy initiative this past year. And now one of the oldest schools in the country will award them with its College Prize for Civility in Public Life.

“Game recognizes game,” Collins says signaling Jeffries in a hip-hop reference from his Capitol Hill office. “This man right here. You want to … partner with him.”

“Although I appreciate Doug Collins quoting … one of the philosophical underpinnings of hip hop — which is game recognizes game,” Jeffries says between Collins’ laughs. It “shows you how much game Doug Collins has at the end of the day.”

Collins and Jeffries both sit on the House Judiciary Committee, ground zero for an ongoing House impeachment inquiry into Trump and on opposite sides of a bitter, partisan fight. Yet, they were able to score a major legislative win this year.

Their first was a bill to protect songwriters in 2013 — and later the two even posted a joint Spotify list of their favorite songs. However, their much tougher work collaboration came with criminal justice reform signed into law in December that helped shorten sentences for some inmates.

Jeffries and Collins say the Allegheny prize for that work is a major honor.

“It’s reflective of the fact that we were able to come together, which meant leadership from Doug Collins, to get things done and make a difference in the lives of the American people in both criminal justice reform and as it relates to the Music Modernization Act,” Jeffries said. “And I was proud to partner with him in that regard.”

Former Congressman Tom Price (R-GA6) responded to a Craigslist ad submitted his application for appointment to the United States Senate, according to 11Alive.

Price submitted an application to the governor’s web site Wednesday, according to his wife, former state Rep. Betty Price.

As a candidate for congress in Georgia, Tom Price won seven elections to a Republican friendly congressional district north of Atlanta. As a successful politician and physician, Price was President Trump’s pick to lead the department of Health and Human Services.

But as a cabinet secretary, Price had a penchant for travel on private and military planes. The inspector general concluded he’d wasted at least $341,000 on such travel during his seven months as secretary. He abruptly left Trump’s cabinet – and has been mostly out of the public eye since.

From the AJC:

Price, a former six-term congressman, confirmed to the AJC that he applied, making him the latest high-profile figure to formally seek the spot. Other applicants include U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Public Service Commissioner Tim Echols – and many more are expected to join them.

Still, he makes a formidable potential candidate. Indulge us for a bit:

Pros: He’s got nearly $1.8 million in his campaign account. He’s close with Kemp. He’s a trusted voice to conservatives on healthcare policy. He’s got high name recognition, plenty of Washington experience and is comfortable in the spotlight.

Cons: His health policies have drawn bitter opposition from constituencies he’d need to win over. His expense scandal would give Democrats endless fodder. He might entice a GOP challenger. And Trump made clear his displeasure with Price throughout the flight saga.

The Georgia State Ethics Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission filed a raft of complaints against a number of incumbents state legislators, according to the AJC.

The Georgia ethics commission on Thursday announced it had filed complaints against 13 state lawmakers, saying each broke campaign finance laws including, in some cases, not disclosing contributions they received.

David Emadi, the commission’s executive secretary, said when he took over earlier this year that he was told lawmakers weren’t following campaign finance laws. He said a preliminary audit confirmed that the state representatives and senators may have broken campaign finance laws.

Those who received complaints were Sen. David Lucas, D-Macon; Sen. Sheikh Rahman, D-Lawrenceville; Sen. Horacena Tate, D-Atlanta; Rep. James Burchett, R-Waycross; Rep. Winfred Dukes, D-Albany; Rep. Pat Gardner, D-Atlanta; Rep. Vernon Jones, D-Lithonia; Rep. Colton Moore, R-Trenton; Rep. Brenda Lopez Romero, D-Norcross; Rep. Steven Sainz, R-Woodbine; Rep. Dexter Sharper, D-Valdosta; and Rep. Mickey Stephens, D-Savannah.

A complaint was prepared for an ex-lawmaker, but the name was not released because he had not yet been served with it, as of Thursday. Sources told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution it was former Rep. David Stover, R-Newnan, who resigned earlier this year.

Many of the accusations involve lawmakers who either were late filing campaign reports or didn’t file them at all, issues that, in the past, didn’t always lead to a formal complaint being filed. Some, such as Gardner, acknowledged errors in their reports, while others, including Lucas, recently filed new reports.

In other business, the Commission dismissed a complaint against Gwinnett County Commission Chair Charlotte Nash, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The state’s ethics investigators disagreed [with the complaint] and the complaint was administratively dismissed on the grounds that the allegations against Nash were deemed unfounded, said Robert Lane, deputy executive secretary for the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign finance Commission, also known as the State Ethics Commission.

“Basically, she didn’t violate the Campaign Finance Act,” Lane said. “There were a lot of allegations, but none of the actions are violations in and of themselves.”

The ethics complaint filed against Nash in May boiled down to what actions elected officials are allowed to take concerning referendums, such as one to join MARTA or others dealing with special purpose local option sales taxes.

State law says elected officials can’t advocate for or against passage of the referendum and county officials have long held that the law also says county resources can’t be used to advocate one side or other.

Officials can, however, explain the item voters are being asked to cast ballots on.

Voters in State House District 71 will return to the polls on Tuesday, October 2 to choose between two candidates in the Special Runoff Election, according to Ballotpedia news.

A runoff election is scheduled for October 1 in District 71 of the Georgia House of Representatives. Marcy Sakrison (R) and Philip Singleton (R) are competing in the runoff. Sakrison and Singleton advanced to the runoff after defeating Jill Prouty (D) and Nina Blackwelder (R) in the September 3 general election. The runoff election was called since no candidate received more than 50 percent of the overall vote.

The seat became vacant after David Stover (R) resigned on June 25. In his resignation letter, Stover wrote that he wanted to spend time with his family. Stover had represented District 71 since 2013. He was last re-elected in 2018 with 74% of the vote in the general election.

Twenty six short-finned pilot whales stranded themselves on St. Catherines Island on the Georgia coast, according to the Savannah Morning News.

For the second time this year pilot whales have stranded themselves on a Georgia beach.

The latest stranding began Wednesday on St. Catherines Island in Liberty County about 50 miles south of Savannah. Approximately 26 short-finned pilot whales stranded on or near the island, leaving 15 dead.

Staff from the St. Catherines Island and Edward J. Noble foundations, which support conservation, research and education on the privately owned barrier island, first discovered the whales Wednesday morning while surveying for sea turtles. The Georgia Department of Natural Resources and the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration joined the response. Staff from the Georgia Sea Turtle Center and the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission have also helped.

Short-finned pilot whales are a deep-water species usually found off the continental shelf and slope, as far as 100 miles offshore. Yet these social members of the dolphin family — which travel in pods sometimes numbering in the hundreds — are also the most common species to mass-strand in the Southeast. They can weigh more than 3 tons and reach 24 feet in length.

As many as 47 pilot whales attempted to beach themselves in July on St. Simons before a spontaneous effort by beachgoers pushed most of them back in the water. Three whales died in that event despite the intervention of beachgoers who were joined by wildlife officials and emergency responders at the popular East Beach.

Appropriations Committee members met in Atlanta yesterday to begin discussing cuts to the state budget, according to WABE.

Marine salvage workers started pumping fuel from the capsized M/V Golden Ray, according to The Brunswick News.

Operations began Wednesday to pump fuel from the tanks inside the 656-foot ship, which overturned on its port side between St. Simons and Jekyll islands in the early morning hours of Sept. 8 as it was heading out to sea with a cargo of some 4,200 vehicles. Fuel onboard the Golden Ray is being pumped off the ship and onto a barge, said U.S. Coast Guard Petty Officer Lauren Dean.

Dean said it is too early speculate on how long this phase of the project will take, noting that safety of the workers, the environment and the public will dictate how fast the work can proceed. Removing the fuel accomplishes two things: eliminating it as a further threat to the surrounding marine environment; and lessening the load onboard the ship in preparations for re-floating it, she said. Unified Command has previously stated it hopes to remove the ship in one piece, a task that is still several months away from being achieved.

Unified Command terms the process of removing the onboard oil as lightering, a maritime term that describes “the process of removing oil or other hazardous chemicals from a compromised vessel to another vessel to prevent oil from spilling into the surrounding waters,” according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Lightering also is employed “to reduce a vessel’s draft,” according to NOAA.

“Lightering operations have commenced as of Wednesday,” Petty Officer Dean said. “It’s in the very initial phases. I can’t really give a timeline to remove this fuel from the vessel, but they are working diligently. It’s a very dangerous operation, just to get these crews in there to be able to do this. We are focusing on the safety of the personnel and getting this done as quickly and as safely as possible.”

Gwinnett County Police Chief A.A. “Butch” Ayers will retire, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Police Deputy Chief Tom Doran will succeed Police Chief A.A. “Butch” Ayers, who is retiring after 35 years of service to Gwinnett County, a county spokesperson said Thursday.

County administrator Glenn Stephens announced Doran’s appointment on Thursday.

“The Gwinnett County Police Department is a prime example of the succession planning and leadership development that the County strives to cultivate and develop in all of its departments,” Stephens said. “Doran is the fifth police chief in a row to begin his career as a police officer and rise among the ranks to assume the role of police chief. I credit the superior level of expertise that exists within the leadership in our police department, including the tremendous leadership of Chief Ayers, for this tradition.”

Former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton will continue facing federal charges, according to the AJC.

A federal judge says former DeKalb County Commissioner Sharon Barnes Sutton did not provide evidence that the government had tainted its case against her.

By denying her motion to dismiss the case, U.S. Magistrate Judge John Larkins said the next step is to head to trial.

Sutton is accused of accepting two $500 bribes from a subcontractor who was doing business with the county. The charges allege that the crimes happened in 2014 when Sutton served as the chairwoman of the commission’s Finance, Audit and Budget Committee with oversight of contracting decisions.

26
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 26, 2019

Minnie Atlanta Lab Rescue

Minnie is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Minnie was rescued with her brother Mickey from a shelter in South Georgia after they were taken from owner by animal control. Sweet Minnie has a leg injury as a result of falling, then hanging from an outside balcony where they were both tied up. Minnie is a snuggler that loves to have fun despite her injury!

Lee Atlanta Lab Rescue

Lee is a young male Labrador Retriever and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Lee is a cute 2 year old, 60 pound lab/hound mix that was picked up at the shelter as a stray. He is a little apprehensive at first but once he realizes you are not going to hurt him his personality turns on and he is down- right silly and adorable. He is in playgroups with other dogs and seems to be housetrained and well-behaved in his room.

Mikey Atlanta Lab Rescue

Mikey is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Atlanta Lab Rescue in Atlanta, GA.

Hi everyone, I’m Mikey! My siblings (Arleen & Sharon) and I have had quite an adventure in our young lives. We were born sometime in late July in South Georgia, ended up in a shelter at just five weeks old and then found our way north to safety. We are now living together in a loving foster home while looking for our forever families. I would love for my new family to have lots of time to show me the good life, love and care for me and teach me all I need to know to become a great dog and long-time companion.

26
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 26, 2019

On September 26, 1928, future President Franklin D. Roosevelt spoke in Atlanta on behalf of Democrat Alfred Smith’s campaign for President.

The first televised debate between major party candidates for President took place on September 26, 1960 between Democrat John F. Kennedy and Republican Richard M. Nixon.

Kennedy emerged the apparent winner from this first of four televised debates, partly owing to his greater ease before the camera than Nixon, who, unlike Kennedy, seemed nervous and declined to wear makeup. Nixon fared better in the second and third debates, and on October 21 the candidates met to discuss foreign affairs in their fourth and final debate. Less than three weeks later, on November 8, Kennedy won 49.7 percent of the popular vote in one of the closest presidential elections in U.S. history, surpassing by a fraction the 49.6 percent received by his Republican opponent.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

The Georgia Department of Public Health reported the state’s first vaping-related death, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A news release says the patient had a history of heavy nicotine vaping but none of vaping THC.

The statement says the patient who died was among nine identified cases of vaping-related illness in Georgia, and other possible cases are being reviewed.

The department says all had pneumonia without any known infectious cause. The patients were 18 to 68 years old with an average age of 26 years. They include seven males.

From the AJC:

The state agency said the patient was a man over the age of 35 who did not live in metro Atlanta. He had a history of heavy nicotine vaping, but no history of vaping THC, which has been linked to a majority of the mysterious vaping-related lung diseases afflicting e-cigarette users.

The death is one of nine confirmed cases in Georgia. The nine people were hospitalized and developed pneumonia with “no known infectious cause,” according to the agency.

In Georgia, those sickened range in age from 18 to 68. The median age of the cases is 26; seven are men.

From GPB News:

Gov. Brian Kemp and DPH Commissioner Kathleen E. Toomey urge individuals to follow the CDC recommendation that individuals should not use e-cigarettes or other vaping devices while this investigation is ongoing.

The CDC cautioned users to avoid purchasing products with THC or CBD oils off the street, and said users should not modify or add any substances to these products that are not intended by the manufacturer.

“Voting rights” organizations are urging DeKalb County to stop canceling the registrations of voters using temporary addresses, according to the AJC.

Voting rights organizations sent a letter Wednesday demanding that DeKalb County election officials stop canceling the registrations of voters without notification or a legitimate challenge to their residency.

DeKalb should ensure that voting rights are protected after the county elections board recently canceled the registrations of seven voters who listed the address of a mental health business as their residence, according to the letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia and the Lawyers’ Committee for Civil Rights Under Law. The business provides temporary housing for people who need a place to stay to avoid psychiatric hospitalization.

Elections officials should make at least two attempts to call and email voters whose residency has been challenged, the organizations said in their letter. In addition, challenges to residency should be submitted in writing from registered voters, not government officials.

The Georgia Composite Medical Board is seeking public comments on proposed rules, according to the AJC.

The state board that regulates physicians is asking for public comment on a proposed rule that would protect the licenses of doctors who default on their student loans or fail to meet service obligations.

The change is already mandated by a new state law, Senate Bill 214, and the board is simply changing its rules to comply with it.

Georgia law used to specifically call for license suspensions in such cases. The new law inserted a “not” and now prohibits them.

The Georgia Composite Medical Board will hold a public hearing on the rule changes at 8 a.m. Nov. 7 at Emory University. The hearing is scheduled for the Emory Conference Center at 1615 Clifton Road NE in Atlanta. People who can’t attend can send their comments by email to lhughes@dch.ga.gov by Oct. 25.

All five proposed rule changes can be reviewed on the board’s website at this link.

Georgia has a gang problem, according to speakers at a meeting of the Georgia House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention. From the Augusta Chronicle:

Rep. Carl Gilliard, chairman of the state House Study Committee on Gang and Youth Violence Prevention, stated that belief at a meeting Wednesday of the group in Augusta. The Savannah Democrat said 71,000 gang members have been identified throughout the state, but believes there are many more. The committee was created during the 2019-2020 session to study ways to prevent the increase of gangs and youth violence in the state.

The meeting was the committee’s third and this one focused on gang prevention, said Rep. Brian Prince of Augusta, who is a member.

“It gave us an opportunity at the first meeting to talk about the problem, identify it,” Prince said. “The second meeting we had in Savannah, Georgia we actually had some people that gave some sort of testimony about what is going on, not just out in the community, but in the jails and prison system.”

“Law enforcement continues to tell us they can’t do it by themselves. It’s going to take a collaborative community effort,” Gilliard said. “Our hopes are that as we bring coalitions of people from around the state that we are able to get the information that is needed to help our law enforcement.”

“The governor has really pushed for prosecution of gangs and taking it seriously and addressing this,” [Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney Natalie] Paine said. “To have the chairman here today and this committee studying, gathering information (on) what are our issues here in Georgia and what are the ways we can combat this the most effectively, I think that is a great step in dealing with this epidemic here in Georgia.”

Georgia Democrats are calling their parent for money asking for a national investment in the state, according to the AJC.

[D]espite the predictions that Georgia will be a top 2020 battleground, Democrats are growing increasingly concerned that the national party still hasn’t devoted any significant resources to the state.

They’ve penned memos to Washington pleading for immediate investment to pay for field operatives and voter training. They’ve had quiet internal discussions to lay the groundwork for when the money comes. And they’ve lobbied national leaders to give more than lip service to the state.

“We need boots on the ground. We need more money to flow to this state. We need more training. And we need (national) leadership to be making trips here,” said Lewanna Heard-Tucker, the Fulton County Democratic chairwoman. “There needs to more noise and excitement so folks can see this state matters.”

Although Democratic presidential candidates are lavishing more attention on Georgia, none has built any lasting infrastructure in the state. No candidate has established a campaign office in Georgia or hired any full-time staff devoted to the state.

By contrast, a pro-Trump “Victory” operation is already humming, with staffers who have crisscrossed Georgia for months to hold rallies and training sessions, some geared toward women and Asian American voters that Republicans have struggled to keep in the fold.

Bibb County School Superintendent Curtis Jones delivered the State of the District address, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Among the achievements noted by Jones was Bibb schools closing the gap with the state on a calculation used to measure Georgia public schools’ student achievement and on graduation rates.

Bibb’s College and Career Ready Performance Index score for 2018 was 67.2 compared to 76.6 for the state. In 2012, Bibb’s CCRPI score was 57.3, compared to 74.1 for the state, Jones said.

Bibb’s graduation rate was 79.4% for 2019, compared to 82% for the state. In 2012, Bibb’s graduation rate was 52.3%, compared to 69.7% for the state.

“Still not good enough, but it’s where we want to go,” Jones said.

Some Bulloch County seniors continue working for property tax relief, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Superintendent of Schools Charles Wilson, at the BOE’s regular meeting Sept. 12, asked board members to be ready to tell him where they stand on the exemption request during this Thursday’s 6:30 p.m. “work session.” The second regular meeting of the month, it includes a time for board members to discuss several topics with the public listening, but with no scheduled time for further comments from the public.

Only the first regularly scheduled BOE meeting each month includes “public participation,” and the tax exemption has been a topic at the last two opportunities. At least four representatives of the pro-exemption seniors spoke to the board Aug. 8, when more than twice as many people spoke against an age-based exemption. However, pro-exemption leaders objected to the way that ratio came about, and two – Kay Anderson and William Emley – spoke again Sept. 12.

Speaking to the board, Emley said it is a fact that all Bulloch County property owners, including those who are not parents or guardians of children in school “have the responsibility of providing financial support … for children’s education.”

“To me that seems to be unfair,” Emley said. “It is a fact that nearly 100 counties in Georgia have some type of age-based school tax exemption. Some of them include 100 percent school tax exemption to their senior citizens who are retired and on fixed income.”

The University of Georgia will name the college of education for Mary Frances Early, the first African-American graduate of the University, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Naming an academic unit such as a college for a person requires Board of Regents approval, UGA President Jere Morehead said in a meeting of his cabinet of high-level administrators, who voted unanimously to approve naming the college for Early.

The late Hamilton Holmes and Charlayne Hunter (now Charlayne Hunter-Gault) were UGA’s first black students when they enrolled as undergraduates in the winter of 1961. Early transferred from the University of Michigan as a graduate student later that year. All three went on to distinguished careers, but Early was the first to get a diploma when she received a master’s in music education in 1962. She later earned a Specialist in Education degree from UGA.

The naming of the college for Early is “honorific” — in contrast to naming colleges, schools or buildings for donors who have given large sums of money, such as buildings in the university’s new Terry College of Business complex.

Early’s career in music education included stints as music director for Atlanta Public Schools, teaching at Morehouse College, Spelman College and Clarke Atlanta University, where she was head of the music department.

In 1981, she was the first African American elected president of the Georgia Music Educators Association.

White County Sheriff Neal Walden announced he will not run for reelection, according to AccessWDUN.

Speaking with WRWH Radio Wednesday morning, Walden, who is in his 28th year as sheriff, said it’s time to do something else.

“They talk about the golden years,” Walden said. “I think it’s about time for me to take a little bite of the golden years. I’ve enjoyed my career. I’ve never got up a day in my life and said, ‘I don’t want to go to work’. It’s always been that challenge, you know, to go see what’s happening, who you can help.”

Walden began his law enforcement career in 1979, working for then-Sheriff Frank Baker Sr. Following Baker’s death, Walden ran for the office and has been serving ever since.

In his seventh term in office, Walden thanked the citizens for allowing him to serve over the years.

Rome Commission candidates will meet the public in two forums, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Floyd County Republican Party is hosting the first candidate forum Thursday at 6 p.m. at Moe’s Original Bar B Que, 107 W. First St., next to Bridgepoint Plaza.

“This is open to the public and there will be microphones for people if they want to ask the candidates questions,” Floyd GOP spokesman Mickey Tuck said Wednesday, adding if folks wish to order food first, they should arrive by 5:30.

Eight out of the nine candidates running for seats in Wards 1 and 3 have confirmed they will be there. Only Ward 1 incumbent Milton Slack will not be able to attend as he has a previous obligation in Brooklyn, New York.

The second candidate forum on Oct. 1 is being put on at 6:30 p.m. by the Theta Omicron Omega Chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority Inc. at Thankful Baptist Church’s Russell Family Life Center, 935 Spider Webb Drive in Rome.

Registered voters in the city of Rome will be able to select three candidates for each ward and the top three in each race will start four-year terms in January.

Francine Scott became the first announced candidate for Augusta Commission Super District 9, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The super district comprises commission districts 1, 2, 4 and 5. Commissioner Marion Williams is term-limited can’t run again next year after serving two consecutive terms. No one else has announced plans to run in the election next May.

Scott said she would bring to the commission “a wealth of experience,” including her more than 30 years in administrative roles with state agencies such as the Governor’s Office of Highway Safety and the Georgia Department of Corrections’ operations and planning division.

Brunswick will get even more awesome when a new Stripling’s opens there. From The Brunswick News:

Buster Byrd and Dennis Carey have been Stripling’s General Store customers for years because of the high quality meats and fresh produce.

But the stores, Perry, Bogart and two in Cordele, aren’t a short drive down the road for residents in the Golden Isles — at least for the time being.

The two businessmen are opening a Stripling’s General Store franchise in Brunswick on U.S. 17 near the causeway leading to St. Simons Island.

It’s likely many visitors to the Golden Isles are already familiar with Stripling’s, which sold some of its products at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta. The meats sold at the store are all produced at a USDA plant in Moultrie.

Byrd said he and Carey were interested in a franchise because the four existing stores are all in rural areas, but they have a loyal clientele who go out of their way to shop there. Both men believe their store will earn a similar reputation when it opens. Under ideal circumstances, the store could open next summer by July 4th weekend, but it’s more likely the opening will be around Labor Day weekend.

Besides smoked meats, the butcher shop will also showcase a variety of fresh-catch seafood, offering shoppers a taste of the nearby sea. Setting it apart from previous locations, Stripling’s Golden Isles will highlight an impressive variety of fine wines that will pair well with a day at the beach or an at-home dinner.

On-the-go favorites include Stripling’s housemade sausage dogs, pulled pork sandwiches, Brunswick stew, and sausage biscuits, to name a few. A plethora of general groceries, including artisanal cheeses, dips, crackers, preserves, sweets, wine and beer, will also be available for purchase.

25
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 25, 2019

Buttercup Animal Ark

Buttercup is a female American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Animal Ark in Columbus, GA.

Buttercup Best Friends

Buttercup is a young female mixed breed dog with a beautiful brindle coat who is available for adoption from Best Friends Pet Adoption Center in Atlanta, GA.

Little Buttercup is curious, smart and has a great nose and her flip flop ears can’t help but bring a smile to your face! While in foster care, she loved belly rubs while chewing on her favorite toys, and couldn’t wait to get outside to explore all the smells of the yard. She, like her broth Zinnio, was very good at potty training. She is also crate trained for bedtime as long as she has her comfy bed and toys with her. Buttercup is one special little girl, and will bring much joy, smiles and happiness to her person(s).

Max FCAS

Max is a handsome brindle-coated Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.

He’s tall, he’s handsome, and he’s got the floppiest ears in Fulton County. Max is currently living in a foster home. If you’re interested in meeting Max, email foster@fultonanimalservices.com!
25
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 25, 2019

On September 25, 1789, Congress adopted the first twelve amendments, called the Bill of Rights, to the United States Constitution. A little more than two years later, in 1791, enough states had ratified ten of the Amendments, with two not receiving sufficient support.

bill-of-rights-hero-lg

On September 25, 1864, Confederate President Jefferson Davis met with General John Bell Hood and visited troops at Palmetto, Georgia.

Ronald Reagan appointee Sandra Day O’Connor became the first female Justice of the United States on September 25, 1981. In an interview with Terry Gross, she recalled receiving the call from President Reagan:

“I was working in my office on the Arizona Court of Appeals,” she tells Fresh Air’s Terry Gross. “I was at the court in my chambers when the telephone rang. And it was the White House calling for me, and I was told that the president was waiting to speak to me. That was quite a shock, but I accepted the phone call, and it was President Reagan, and he said, ‘Sandra?’ ‘Yes, Mr. President?’ ‘Sandra, I’d like to announce your nomination to the U.S. Supreme Court tomorrow. Is that all right with you?’ Well, now, that’s kind of a shock, wouldn’t you say?”

The Princess Bride was released on September 25, 1987. Inconceivable!

On September 25, 2008, the last car came off the line at GM’s Doraville Plant.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp has received a shortlist of recommended candidates for appointment to a vacancy on the Superior Court for the Enotah Judicial Circuit, which serves Lumpkin, Towns, Union, and White Counties.

The Judicial Nominating Commission has submitted recommendations to fill a vacancy within the Superior Court of the Enotah Judicial Circuit. The vacancy was created by the resignation of the Honorable N. Stanley Gunter. Gov. Kemp will fill the vacancy from the recommendations provided. The Governor’s Office will contact candidates to schedule interviews.

The following names were submitted to Gov. Kemp:

•  Jeremy D. Clough – Judge, Juvenile Courts, Enotah Judicial Circuit
• T. Buckley Levins – Senior Assistant District Attorney, Tallapoosa Judicial Circuit
• Kerry B. Morris – Special Assistant Attorney General, Department of Family and Children Services; attorney, Law Office of Todd L. Lord

If the Governor wanted my two cents, I’d say that the only candidate I know of the ones listed is Jeremy Clough, and I know him to be a fine man whose work ethic, temperament, and philosophy would make him a good judge whom I could enthusiastically support.

The AJC looks at the five-year relationship between President Trump and Senator David Perdue.

Five years ago this month, when he was best known as a real estate mogul-turned-reality star who raised questions about President Barack Obama’s citizenship, Donald Trump telegraphed his admiration for David Perdue, the political newcomer who’d unexpectedly secured the GOP nomination for Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat.

“He’s a fantastic guy who will fight hard against ObamaCare,” Trump tweeted.

The tweet came after the duo’s initial Trump Tower meeting in September 2014, where they laid the groundwork for a political alliance that would help shape Trump’s anti-establishment presidential run and facilitate Perdue’s rise as one of Capitol Hill’s foremost “Trumpsplainers.”

This year, Perdue’s Democratic challengers are all too happy to broadcast the senator’s ties to Trump, especially his loyalty after the president’s blunt comments about African countries and four freshmen congresswomen of color that many considered racist. They’ve also highlighted his continued support of Trump’s trade and disaster relief policies, even as both have led to near-term pain for local farmers.

Georgia Democrats are speaking in support of an effort to impeach President Trump, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

U.S. Reps. Hank Johnson, John Lewis and David Scott were the first Georgia congressmen to call for presidential impeachment proceedings to move forward. U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop Jr., D-Albany, also backed the impeachment inquiry late Tuesday.

Johnson, D-Lithonia, said the president’s “recent admission” of discussions with Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden is “profoundly troubling.”

“Attempting to coerce a foreign government into digging up dirt on a political opponent, then trying to cover it up by unlawfully refusing to turn over the whistleblower complaint to Congress, crosses a red line,” Johnson said in a prepared statement. “President Trump’s repeated obstruction and flagrant disregard of his oath of office demands the issuance of Articles of Impeachment.”

Republican U.S. Rep. Austin Scott also commented.

Scott said in a prepared statement Tuesday evening, “Unfortunately, Speaker Pelosi has succumbed to the belligerent left and their media allies to move forward with an impeachment inquiry against the President. Democrats continue to waste time and taxpayer dollars on endless investigations while refusing to address the many challenges our nation faces.”

Georgia House Speaker David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, slammed U.S. House Democrats in a statement to CNHI, saying, “Just when you think they can go no lower, Washington Democrats have proven us wrong.

“No plan to grow jobs, no plan to allow hard-working Americans to keep more of their money and no plan to keep us safe, but wasted energy on an impeachment process that is going nowhere in a hurry,” Ralston said. “President Trump’s record of creating jobs, growing our economy, cutting taxes and making sure America stands strong in the world is beyond dispute. Also beyond dispute is the obsessive hatred of Washington Democrats.”

That’s a very thorough article by Riley Bunch, which is worth reading in its entirety.

From the AJC:

Several Democratic contenders for top Georgia offices also announced they would back filing formal charges against the Republican, changing course amid allegations that he pressured a Ukrainian leader to investigate his top political rival.

In an even trickier spot was freshman Congresswoman Lucy McBath, D-Marietta, whose 2018 upset victory in a Republican-leaning suburban district was the state party’s crowning achievement in the midterm. She refused to answer reporters’ questions following a closed-door meeting with Pelosi and other Democrats on Tuesday afternoon.

From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

“The administration should absolutely follow the whistleblower process, I call on it to do exactly that, and I know that it will,” said U.S. Rep. Woodall, R-Ga.

“But when the House Democrat majority moves to start impeachment proceedings based on that complaint before it even holds a hearing to gather the facts, we have the answer to whether this is a serious constitutional effort or a partisan political exercise.”

U.S. Rep. Jody Hice struck a stronger tone in a statement Tuesday night where he accused Democrats of attempting to “nullify the will of the people and overturn the results of the 2016 election” while also accusing Democrats and the media of being “dead set on resisting” Trump.

“The abrupt and absurd decision by Speaker Pelosi to formally begin impeachment proceedings without waiting for a single piece of evidence is a dramatic overstep to distract from the real issues that matter to the American people,” Hice said.

“The simple fact that Speaker Pelosi could not be bothered to wait a mere 24 hours, when the President has said he would release the call’s transcript, indicates just how desperate and misguided the Left has become.”

Congressman Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is working to bring together resources for homeless people, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, is working to bring together resources for homeless individuals, particularly homeless veterans, in hopes of better addressing the issue in communities Carter represents.

That effort began Monday with an initial roundtable discussion in Glynn County that included representatives from numerous local resources aiming to address homelessness in this area, as well as local government leaders including Brunswick Mayor Cornell Harvey and Glynn County Commissioner Allen Booker.

“All of us have the same common goal, and that is to end homelessness,” Carter told the meeting participants. “… I always like to say that none of us is as smart as all of us. If we’re duplicating services, or if we’re concentrating and we’ve got an overabundance of one thing and not enough of another thing, then we’re not really doing everything that we can do.”

Most of the one-hour meeting Monday, held at the Brunswick-Golden Isles Chamber of Commerce office, was spent on introductions from the various attendees, who shared their organizations’ missions and plans.

Democrat Governor Stacey Abrams presented a fictional account speech in Pooler, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Abrams, the founder and chair of Fair Fight, spoke to members of the public at the National Association of Letter Carriers’ office on U.S. 80. Her visit came on National Voter Registration Day, an unofficial national holiday that started in 2012.

“My name is Stacey Abrams, and I am not the governor of Georgia,” Abrams said at the start of the talk, which drew about 70 people into the crowded building on U.S. 80.

“I like to announce that because some people think I’m confused,” Abrams said. “You see, I recognize that by legal sufficiency we have someone else who sits in that office, but I was raised by two United Methodist ministers and two Civil Rights activists who raised me to believe that, if you see something that’s wrong, you need to say it’s wrong.”

“To concede an election, to say that it was true and right and proper, when in Pooler, Georgia, people got turned away because they ran out of provisional ballots … When that happens in the state of Georgia, when that happens in Pooler, Georgia, but also in Troup County and in metropolitan Atlanta and in Stewart County and across the state, then the right to vote was not fair and proper, and I will not say it was so if it is not so.”

The Gainesville Times looks at north Georgia applicants for appointment to the United States Senate.

Several local applicants have sent in their resumes for the U.S. Senate seat soon to be vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson’s retirement, including U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville.

Local applicants include Collins, radio host and former Kemp adviser Martha Zoller, CEO of The Norton Agency Frank Norton Jr., Gainesville City Schools teacher Lewis Fraser, and Northeast Georgia Health System employee Andy Whitener.

A Collins spokesperson declined to comment on Collins’ application for the Senate position. In a statement last month, Collins praised Isakson’s leadership.

“Johnny Isakson has been a standard of public service and statesmanship for decades in Georgia. He’s always drawn on his extensive roots in our state to deepen his advocacy for all Georgians,” Collins said. “Johnny faithfully remembers the forgotten, including America’s veterans. I’ve looked up to him as a mentor and still work to emulate him.”

Zoller, of Gainesville, is currently a radio host with WDUN. She was previously Kemp’s director of field offices and worked with Kemp’s campaign as director of outreach. Before that, she was a policy adviser to U.S. Sen. David Perdue and for Perdue’s campaign. She has worked for several Georgia radio stations.

“I have traveled the state of Georgia on behalf of elected officials and heard the needs that constituents had throughout the state,” she said. “I would be honored to continue to do that service in the United States Senate.”

 The Georgia Court of Appeals will hear defendants in a RICO case involving Floyd County schools, according to the Rome News Tribune.

On Aug. 12, Superior Court Judge Jack Niedrach ruled that the DA could drop both indictments, which gives them a six month period in which to re-indict. Attorneys for defendants in the case argued the court should have thrown out both indictments.

The distinction between allowing the district attorney to drop the indictments and having the court throw them out boils down to whether or not the case continues.

Attorneys for the defendants of the RICO case are petitioning the court of appeals to overturn Niedrach’s decision stating the last two indictments were void and therefore the entire case needs to be dismissed.

According to information presented in court, Derry Richardson is accused of using his position as maintenance director in the school system to steal millions of dollars from the Floyd County School system over a period of years and included family, friends and co-workers in the ongoing scheme.

Multiple people have been charged with RICO violations and other charges in the case. Along with Derry Richardson, his wife Lisa Richardson, his father Jimmy Richardson and brother Dwayne Richardson are all charged in the plot.

The U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency (ICE) will build training sites at Fort Benning, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

ICE is set to spend more than $961,000 to purchase five different training structures — the first steps toward a complex that will emulate buildings and structures the agency’s expanding Special Response Teams would encounter across the United States and Puerto Rico, according to a federal contract.

The plans also call for expansion later at the post, which is near Columbus.

The structures will be made from portable shipping containers or other appropriate materials that can be relocated to different sites if needed. But specifics of what each replica would look like are not included in the federal contract.

The AJC looks at the prospective hemp industry in Georgia after passage of legislation to allow the practice.

Andy Peck wants to start growing hemp plants at his nursery in Dacula, but like many farmers across Georgia, he’s worried that government regulations will stifle the new industry before it starts.

Peck wouldn’t be allowed to sell hemp to anyone except processing companies, which don’t exist yet in Georgia. He couldn’t ship his product outside Georgia, but out-of-state producers could bring their hemp here. With such an uncertain market, Peck doesn’t know whether hemp would even be profitable.

Since Georgia lawmakers legalized hemp farming earlier this year, Peck and 71 other people have submitted public comments to the state Department of Agriculture, almost all of them expressing concerns about the state’s proposed regulations. The Atlanta Journal-Constitution obtained their comments through a request under the Georgia Open Records Act.

“The way they proposed it isn’t going to work for Georgia farmers,” said Peck, who would like to grow hemp along with violas, ferns, perennials, annuals and other flowers in greenhouses on his 21 acres at Quail Hollow Nurseries. “We want to make sure Georgia is competitive with the rest of the South. The way the laws are written now, we won’t be.”

Warren Hanchey of Whole Leaf Co., a business that grows hemp in Colorado and Oregon, said the hemp regulations require farmers to enter into written agreements with processors, but processing plants haven’t been built yet. He said farmers should be able to do business with any plant that offers the best price and service.

“They’re just trying to over-regulate everything,” said Hanchey, who lives in Johns Creek. “We’re trying to create all-new steps in Georgia to grow the hemp. I’m afraid it’s going to lead to a disaster for the farmers getting into this.”

The Georgia Department of Agriculture will review the public comments and decide whether proposed regulations should be changed, said Julie McPeake, a spokeswoman for the department. The state is waiting on the U.S. Department of Agriculture to release federal hemp program rules before moving forward with Georgia’s regulations.

Savannah has hired a firm to help collect overdue water bills, according to AccessWDUN.

A city in Georgia that is owed about $6.5 million in overdue water bills has hired a debt collector to help reel in the delinquent payments.

News outlet report the city of Savannah has hired Professional Credit to assist in collecting unpaid water bills from about 12,500 accounts. The highest delinquent bill owed to the city is more than $27,000.

The city Revenue Director Ashley Simpson says it’s become increasingly difficult to collect on delinquent accounts especially because some of the holders moved away, passed away or filed for bankruptcy.

Augusta Commissioners declined to support the call by colleague Sammie Sias to drawdown the Savannah River for a second look at potential changes, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Augusta won’t be asking the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers for a second drawdown of the Savannah River after one city commissioner’s call to do so gained no support Tuesday.

Commissioner Sammie Sias would not say why he specified the corps’ alternative 2-6a for removing the New Savannah Bluff Lock and Dam in his Tuesday request for another drawdown, other than that “all options are still on the table.” Lowering the river level would show the impact of one of six corps proposals , and the corps has said that particular alternative has the least effect on water levels.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners discussed a proposal to give county employees time off to vote, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioners Virgil Watkins and Elaine Lucas came up with an idea to give county employees a holiday on election days.

The idea met some resistance from fellow commissioners so Watkins modified the time off to include wellness and other civic activities and reduced it to a half day.

Those changes still didn’t work.

The resolution came before the Operations and Finance Committee, which Watkins chairs. After Watkins explained the motion, Commissioner Scotty Shepherd made a motion to table it, and the motion was approved 3-2 without discussion.

The Chatham Area Transit Board of Directors met to discuss art, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Sept. 24 CAT board meeting saw the debut of a proposal to add unique murals to neighborhood bus stops outside of Savannah’s historic core. Board member Clinton Edminster, who was not present at Tuesday’s meeting, suggested this initiative as a way to strengthen the connection between CAT and various communities that it serves with individualized artworks reflecting the surrounding neighborhood’s character.

Although this concept garnered initial encouragement among board members on Tuesday, Chairman Michael O’Halloran was quick to point out that there is no room in CAT’s budget to fund the initiative.

“I really think it could improve the shelters. … Art’s important, and I’m not opposed to it. I like art,” O’Halloran said, while adding that when Edminster approached him with the idea, he responded, “Plan on us not funding it.”

In other business, the board unanimously approved new funding agreements with the Westin Savannah hotel and the Savannah Convention Center regarding ferry services across the Savannah River. The agreements stipulate that each of the two Hutchinson Island visitor destinations will pay $50,000 annually to support ferry operations.

Statesboro will seek outside funding for transit, according to the Statesboro Herald.

City of Statesboro staff members are ready to move forward with applications for state 10% matching funds and a federal 80% grant toward equipment costs of $811,750 to launch a city bus system.

The system is expected to cost $658,800 a year to operate and maintain, with a different federal grant potentially providing 50% of that and rider fares a little over $78,000 annually. These projections are for a system with the main buses running two, two-way fixed routes, 6 a.m.-6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Of four options presented by Connetics Transportation Group, or CTG, in its May transit study report, city staff last week recommend this as the most “cost effective” option based on ridership projections. But it has the highest up-front capital cost and second-highest annual operating cost.

Albany Commission Ward IV member Tommie Postell was honored by colleagues, according to the Albany Herald.

Mayor Dorothy Hubbard presented Postell with a proclamation declaring Tuesday Tommie Postell Day in the city, and Postell also received a letter and proclamation from U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop, D-Albany.

“He’s a legend, during the era of civil rights and, of course, in today’s time,” Ward I Commissioner Jon Howard said during an interview following the reception. “He will be sorely missed for his ferocious opinions at times, (but) then he could be as humble as a lamb.”

Three candidates – John Hawthorne, Leroy Smith and Demetrius Young are vying to replace Postell in the Nov. 5 municipal election.

Candidates for Valdosta Mayor and Council will meet in a political forum this week, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Valdosta Divine Nine sponsors a political forum 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 26, at Mathis City Auditorium, 2300 N. Ashley St.

A meet-and-greet with the Valdosta mayoral and Valdosta City Council candidates is 5 p.m., organizers said.

Mayoral candidates are Kevin Bussey, Scott James Matheson, J.D. Rice David Sumner and Brooks D. Bivins.

City Council at-large candidates are Jeremy Stone, Adrian Rivers, incumbent Councilman Ben H. Norton and Edgar “Nicky” Tooley.

A forum on human trafficking will be held in Brunswick on Sunday, according to The Brunswick News.