The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 17, 2021

Rufus is a young male Terrier who is available for adoption from Hootie’s Haven Animal Rescue Inc. in Cedartown, GA.

Rufus is awesome! He is great with large and small dogs and he’s very submissive. He shows interest his fosters’ cat but he doesn’t go running after him. We feel it’s more out of being curious. He’s completely housebroken and crate trained. He’s not a talker, so you don’t have to worry about him barking. He is approximately one- two years old and he came to us from a sweet older couple. He was found as a stray and they never could find the owner. He is a bit underweight, but his sweet foster is working to fatten him up some- and he’s loving every minute of it.

Paris is a small female Terrier mix who is available for adoption from Hootie’s Haven Animal Rescue Inc. in Cedartown, GA.

Paris is a true snuggle bug! She loves sleeping with her foster mom and playing with her 4-legged foster siblings. She’s crate trained and 99% potty trained- she’s has one accident in the house, but that was day one of her arrival. Paris is 2 years old and is about 15-20 pounds. She sheds very little.

Molly is a female Chesapeake Bay and Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Hootie’s Haven Animal Rescue Inc. in Cedartown, GA.

Molly is the longest residing resident at Hootie’s Haven. She came to us after her owner lost his home in a fire and was living in his car with Molly and his other dog. Molly is such an amazing girl! She will play fetch for hours. She LOVES her balls & KONG toys! She had an accident as a puppy and she has issues with her back left leg but she doesnt let it slow her down one bit! She is so toy driven that as long as you play ball, she will do anything else you want her to do! She does not like to share her toys, so we feel she would do best as an only dog and in a home with no young children.

If you’re on Facebook, you can check out Hootie’s Haven Animal Rescue Inc. there.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 17, 2021

Forty-one delegates signed the United States Constitution, including Abraham Baldwin and William Few representing Georgia, at the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia on September 17, 1787 before adjourning sine die.

The United States government took out its first loan on September 18, 1789, the proceeds of which were used to pay the salaries of the President, and First Congress. Was that the first payday loan? On the same day, future President Thomas Jefferson wrote a letter to E. Rutledge in which he requested that a shipment of olive trees be sent via Baltimore.

President George Washington laid the cornerstone of the United States Capitol on September 18, 1793.

We know from that newspaper article, and from Masonic ritual, that Washington placed an inscribed silver plate under the cornerstone at the southeast corner of this building. However, we do not know whether that meant the southeast corner of the Senate wing, the first section of the building to be completed, or the southeast corner of the whole building as intended, which would locate it over on the House side. Two centuries later, the Architect of the Capitol is still searching for that cornerstone. Metal detectors have failed to locate the silver plate.

On September 17, 1796, George Washington began working on the final draft of his farewell address as the first President of the United States of America.

President George Washington gave his farewell address on September 19, 1796.

The period for a new election of a Citizen, to Administer the Executive government of the United States, being not far distant, and the time actually arrived, when your thoughts must be employed in designating the person, who is to be cloathed with that important trust, it appears to me proper, especially as it may conduce to a more distinct expression of the public voice, that I should now apprise you of the resolution I have formed, to decline being considered among the number of those, out of whom a choice is to be made.

I beg you, at the sametime, to do me the justice to be assured, that this resolution has not been taken, without a strict regard to all the considerations appertaining to the relation, which binds a dutiful Citizen to his country–and that, in withdrawing the tender of service which silence in my Situation might imply, I am influenced by no diminution of zeal for your future interest, no deficiency of grateful respect for your past kindness; but am supported by a full conviction that the step is compatible with both.

President Millard Fillmore signed the Fugitive Slave Act on September 18, 1850, requiring that slaves be returned to their owners even if they were in a free state.

The Army of Northern Virginia under General Robert E. Lee met the Army of the Potomac under General George McClellan at the Battle of Antietam on September 17, 1862.

The Battle of Antietam actually consisted of three battles. Beginning at dawn on September 17, Union General Joseph Hooker’s men stormed Confederate General Thomas J. “Stonewall” Jackson’s troops around the Dunker Church, the West Woods, and David Miller’s cornfield. The Federals made repeated attacks, but furious Rebel counterattacks kept the Yankees in check. By early afternoon, the fighting moved south to the middle of the battlefield. Union troops under General Edwin Sumner inflicted devastating casualties on the Confederates along a sunken road that became known as “Bloody Lane,” before the Southerners retreated. McClellan refused to apply reserves to exploit the opening in the Confederate center because he believed Lee’s force to be much larger than it actually was. In the late afternoon, Union General Ambrose Burnside attacked General James Longstreet’s troops across a stone bridge that came to bear Burnside’s name. The Yankees crossed the creek, but a Confederate counterattack brought any further advance to a halt.

The fighting ended by early evening, and the two armies remained in place throughout the following day. After dark on September 18, Lee began pulling his troops out of their defenses for a retreat to Virginia. The losses for the one-day battle were staggering. Union casualties included 2,108 dead, 9,540 wounded, and 753 missing, while Confederate casualties numbered 1,546 dead, 7,752 wounded, and 1,108 missing.

General Robert E. Lee retreated from Antietam Creek on September 18, 1862, following the bloodiest day of fighting in the Civil War.

On September 19, 1863, the Battle of Chickamauga was joined between the federal Army of the Cumberland under Maj. Gen. William Rosecrans and the Confederate Army of Tennessee under Gen. Braxton Bragg. After Gettysburg, Chickamauga is generally considered the second-bloodiest battle of the Civil War, with 18,500 Confederate casualties and 16,100 Union dead.

Thirteen marchers were shot and killed and forty more wounded in Camilla, Georgia at the Camilla Massacre on September 19, 1868 as marchers to a Republican Party rally were gunned down.

President James Garfield died on September 19, 1881, of wounds sustained on July 2d of that year. Garfield is one of seven Presidents born in Ohio – he and William McKinley were both killed by assassins.

Chickamauga National Battlefield was dedicated September 19, 1895.

On September 17, 1932, the Georgia Division of the Roosevelt Business and Professional League was created to work with the Georgia Democratic Party to support FDR’s Presidential campaign in the Peach State.

On September 18, 1973, Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter filed a report claiming that he saw an Unidentified Flying Object in the sky above Leary, Georgia in 1969.

Carter was preparing to give a speech at a Lions Club meeting. At about 7:15 p.m (EST), one of the guests called his attention to a strange object that was visible about 30 degrees above the horizon to the west of where he was standing. Carter described the object as being bright white and as being about as bright as the moon. It was said to have appeared to have closed in on where he was standing but to have stopped beyond a stand of pine trees some distance from him. The object is then said to have changed color, first to blue, then to red, then back to white, before appearing to recede into the distance. Carter felt that the object was self-luminous, but not a solid in nature. Carter’s report indicates that it was witnessed by about ten or twelve other people, and was in view for ten to twelve minutes before it passed out of sight.

Click here to view a copy of the report, allegedly on file at the Carter Center.

Jimmy Carter received the first ever endorsement of a national ticket by the National Education Association in his bid for President on September 17, 1976.

The Georgia General Assembly approved a new state Constitution on September 18, 1981, which was placed on the 1982 ballot and after approval by voters, went into effect in 1983.

On September 18, 1990, Atlanta was announced as the location for the 1996 Summer Olympic games.

Ted Turner announced on September 18, 1997 his intent to donate $1 billion to the United Nations.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

President Joe Biden nominated Statesboro native Reta Jo Lewis as Chairman and President of the Export-Import Bank of the United States, according to the Statesboro Herald.

She is the first Black woman to be nominated to head the Export-Import Bank, which assists American businesses export their goods by providing financial assistance in the form of loans, loan guarantees and insurance.

Lewis was born in Statesboro and is the daughter of the late Charlie and Altheia Lewis, who were entrepreneurs and civic activists in Statesboro for more than 50 years. She is a graduate of the University of Georgia, holds a master’s degree from American University in Washington and earned her law degree from Emory University School of Law in Atlanta.

Lewis has more than two decades of leadership experience in international affairs, legal, public policy and regulatory issues, as well as subnational diplomacy, including serving under the Obama-Biden administration.

Under then Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, she was the first-ever special representative for global intergovernmental affairs.

Prior to serving in the Obama White House, Lewis worked as a special assistant for political affairs for former President Bill Clinton.

The Biden Administration has changed the distribution structure for Monoclonal Antibody Infusion treatment for COVID, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services said this week the decision comes from supply shortages and demand for the treatments across the country, mainly due to the delta variant’s rapid spread.

Health care providers will no longer be able to order the treatments directly. HHS said it will determine each state’s weekly allocation of monoclonal antibody products based on use and the number of new COVID cases.

The Georgia Department of Public Health said it will identify which sites in the state will receive the product and the amount each site receives.

Health care providers must record their administration of the products in order to be eligible to receive additional shipments.

Some Monoclonal Antibody Infusion treatment sites in Georgia are closing because of the Biden Administration’s policy change, according to WALB.

Effective Thursday, COVID-19 infusion sites across South Georgia are temporarily closing.

Colquitt Regional Medical Center was one of many facilities in the region to say that monoclonal antibody treatment will be unavailable until further notice.

For a few months now, that infusion treatment has been available to hundreds of COVID-19 patients. However, officials say things are changing and it’s out of the hospital’s control.

The infusion sites are closing as the state works through a new distribution process.

“We are very disappointed that the infusions are not available to us in the moment,” said Matthew Clifton, Assistant Vice President of Pharmacy and Oncology at CRMC. “Health and Human Services, the department of the government, notified us about a week ago that they were really looking at the numbers and were questioning the volumes we were ordering, which led to all the orders that we were making kind of being held up.”

He says the treatment has helped keep people out of the hospital and lessen the stress on local hospital staff.

It’s unclear, Clifton says, when the distribution will begin again and how many doses the hospital will be granted.

From another story by WALB:

South Georgia Medical Center has postponed monoclonal antibody infusion treatments. The Biden administration now oversees the distribution of them while shortages are reported across the state and country.

When the facility opened in early August, these treatments help keep people alive, and hospitals from surpassing capacity.

“We wanted to make sure we treated as many people as we possibly could and we still do once we re-supply. We want to continue treating as many people as possible to minimize their risk of being hospitalized or death,” said Brian Dawson, Chief Medical Officer at SGMC.

Demand is up and supply is down for monoclonal antibody infusions.

“It’s my understanding now they have changed their distribution and allotment strategy, as before they were going through a national drug wholesaler, now they’re going directly to the state department of public health to get those distributed,” said Dawson.

Health care providers will no longer be able to order the treatments directly.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will determine each state’s weekly allocation based on the use and the number of new COVID-19 cases.

Georgia Department of Public Health will identify which areas will receive the product and amount.

A small batch of supplies remains for those that come to the Emergency Department very ill.

Once SGMC receives more supplies, they plan to reopen this infusion unit.

From CBS12 in Florida:

The Biden administration said the department of Health and Human Services is allocating doses to states more evenly, in an effort to ensure lifesaving COVID-19 treatment across the country.

Previously, seven states accounted for 70 percent of the monoclonal antibody doses: Florida, Texas, Mississippi, Tennessee, Alabama, Georgia and Louisiana.

From the Gainesville Times:

“Ultimately, this should improve our ability to communicate our need for monoclonal antibody treatment medications,” Melissa Frank, director of pharmacy services at Northeast Georgia Medical Center, wrote in a statement Wednesday, Sept. 15.

But the change has already disrupted supply for some providers, including Longstreet Clinic, which has locations in Gainesville, Oakwood and Braselton. The clinic tried to submit an order for the treatment through a drug vendor last week before they were informed of the distribution change, said Chief Operating Officer Loren Funk. The clinic does not currently administer monoclonal antibody treatment, he said.

“We were making our plans to do so and that change from how they’re distributing has slowed that process,” Funk said. “I’m in the process of figuring out how and if we can go through the proper channels to be able to get the Regeneron to administer.”

The Macon Telegraph has reactions from local members of Congress to the Biden Administration vaccine mandate.

U.S. Rep. Sanford Bishop was supportive of Biden’s new COVID-19 plan. The congressman, whose second congressional district includes the southwest corner of the state as well as portions of Macon and Columbus, said vaccinations and testing were “crucial” to preventing the spread and mutation of the coronavirus. Both public health measures, he said, would lower risks, allow schools to stay open and ensure people are healthy.

Bishop added that Georgians are already required to receive vaccines for a number of dangerous diseases including “polio, hepatitis B and measles” among others.

“By implementing vaccine requirements for federal employees and contractors, the President is ensuring that our federal workforce is as healthy as possible during this pandemic — capable of defending and serving our country,” a portion of Bishop’s statement read. “It is also important to be clear that, for businesses with 100 or more employees, the President is requiring that employees be vaccinated or tested weekly.

“The plan that the President announced last week was not limited to vaccines,” Bishop added. “It also outlined ways to expand testing, help hospital and healthcare worker capacity, and improve funding support for small businesses.”

U.S. Rep. Drew Ferguson, whose district stretches from north Columbus to the southern suburbs of Atlanta, posted a statement on Twitter last week calling Biden’s COVID-19 plan unconstitutional.

“The federal government mandating the COVID-19 vaccine is unacceptable and unconstitutional,” the post read. “It’s a slippery slope that erodes individual liberty. I encourage people to have a discussion with their healthcare provider, discuss the risks & benefits, and make an informed decision.”

U.S. Rep Austin Scott, whose district includes portions of north Macon, Warner Robins and Perry, issued a statement on Twitter.

“I tested positive for COVID-19 last yr & was in the hospital on (oxygen.) I believe the COVID-19 vaccine is safe & effective, but I don’t support a dictatorial COVID-19 vaccine mandate, vaccine passports, or forcing private businesses to give workers PTO to comply w/ Biden’s mandate. Getting a vaccine is a personal choice. This is America, & @JoeBiden doesn’t get to dictate the health care choices of Americans. Show some respect, Mr. President.”

Absentee voting will change for this November’s elections, according to 13WMAZ.

For the upcoming Warner Robins election, there are four races on the ballot — mayor and three city council seats.

Andy Holland with the Houston County Board of Elections says the biggest change is for absentee voters.

“Some of the changes include when you can request the ballot. The last day ballots can be mailed out things like their ballots now can only be requested within 78 days of an election, and then the last day to mail a ballot out has been moved to 11 days prior to the election,” said Holland.

He says ID is now required for both in-person and mail-in voting

“All requests on that application have to include a driver’s license number of Georgia driver’s license number for the voter. If they do not have a Georgia driver’s license, that’s when they would have to attach an alternate form of ID, like a copy of a photo ID like a passport,” said Holland.

Holland says the same applies when you return your absentee ballot. You’ll need to put down your driver’s license number or last four of your social security number.

The law also limits the number of absentee ballot drop boxes.

Early voting runs Oct. 12-29. Holland says Saturday voting will be open the first two weeks. Election day is Nov. 2.

Fulton County District Attorney Fani Willis (D) spoke about the probe into allegations against former President Donald Trump, according to CNN via the Albany Herald.

“What I can tell you is that the Trump investigation is ongoing. As a district attorney, I do not have the right to look the other way on any crime that may have happened in my jurisdiction,” Willis told reporters this week. “We have a team of lawyers that is dedicated to that, but my No. 1 priority is to make sure that we keep violent offenders off the street.”

Willis’s probe spans not only the former President’s activities, but also a call between Sen. Lindsey Graham and Raffensperger, Rudy Giuliani’s false allegations of election fraud before Georgia legislators and the surprise departure of Byung “BJay” Pak from his role as US attorney for the Northern District of Georgia.

Audio recordings of both of those calls have already emerged, and Willis’s office has been poring over those along with other documents and records from the Secretary of State’s office, according to people familiar with the matter.

I wonder if there will be an investigation into the source of the recordings of phone calls at issue. There’s no problem if they were recorded in Georgia, which is a “one party consent” state. Florida, to pull a counter-example out of thin air, requires all parties to a phone call to consent to its recording.

United States Representative Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) is questioning a policy at the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC) in Glynn County, according to The Brunswick News.

U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, questions a FLETC rule that forbids students receiving COVID-19 vaccine from leaving the Glynco campus.

The Federal Law Enforcement Training Center says the rule, put into effect after a COVID-19-forced break in training in August, is for the safety of students, staff and the community during the pandemic. It is only temporary and subject to review in about four months.

“The confining of all FLETC students, vaccinated and unvaccinated, is completely unnecessary,” Carter said. “I believe that by confining vaccinated students, it diminishes confidence in the vaccine itself.”

Carter, whose congressional district includes the training facility, received complaints about the lockdown from students and a former student. They complain that it is unfair to prevent them from leaving the base when instructors and other staff, as well as contractors, are free to come and go.

“We should be confident in the vaccine that our doctors and scientists have put so much time and effort in to developing, and this policy only goes to reduce incentive to get vaccinated,” Carter said.

Bibb County public schools will host a vaccine clinic for eligible students, according to 13WMAZ.

Individuals 12 and older will be able to get the Pfizer vaccine at middle and high schools.

In order for students to receive the vaccine, parents must complete a consent form and return it  to your child’s school.

Statesboro will host a vaccine clinic this weekend, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro’s city government is working in partnership with the Bulloch County NAACP and Squashing the Spread Bulloch County to host the free COVID-19 vaccine clinic this Saturday, Sept. 18, 8:30 a.m.-12:30 p.m. at the Jones-Love Cultural Center in Luetta Moore Park.

The park is at 585 Martin Luther King Jr.  Drive, where the first 300 visitors in line will get a $50 gift card after receiving their choice of the Pfizer, Moderna, or Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine, the city government  announced. The free vaccines will be administered by licensed practitioners from the Bulloch County Health Department.

“Myself and the Statesboro City Council want our citizens to get vaccinated,” Mayor Jonathan McCollar said in a press release. “Getting vaccinated is the best way to stop the spread of COVID-19 in our community. The COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and save lives. It is our hope that offering the $50 incentive will encourage more citizens to take the vaccine to protect themselves, their families and their neighbors.”

Anyone who received their first dose of a two-dose vaccine at the City Hall clinic Sept. 1 will be eligible to receive a second dose and an additional $50 gift card during the clinic Saturday at the park, city Public Information Officer Layne Phillips stated in the press release.

After initially approving an expenditure of $10,000 for two hundred $50 bank-issued gift cards before the Sept. 1 clinic, City Council on Sept. 7 approved the purchase of  168 more cards, replacing  the 68 previously distributed and boosting the total  available for Saturday to 300. That also made the cumulative expenditure for gift cards $18,400, with the funding source being the city’s federal reimbursement for  public safety expenses  under Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act of 2020.

That is an interesting scenario, because it incentivizes people to get the two-shot vaccine. According to the CDC:

You should get your second shot as close to the recommended 3-week or 4-week interval as possible.

People are considered fully vaccinated:

•  2 weeks after their second shot in a 2-dose series, like the Pfizer or Moderna vaccines, or
•  2 weeks after a single-shot vaccine, like Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen COVID-19 Vaccine

Dougherty County will pay $100 to incentivize prospective vaccine recipients, according to the Albany Herald.

The big tents are up behind the Albany Civic Center, but it’s not a circus coming to town in this instance. The setup is for a Saturday COVID vaccination clinic that will pay Dougherty County residents to roll up their sleeves.

Dougherty residents 18 and up will receive $100 Visa gift cards for getting a COVID-vaccination at the vaccination clinic scheduled for 8 a.m.-1 p.m. However, the event is open to anyone 12 and older and residents of other counties can get vaccinated but will not receive the $100 incentive.

“We want people in Dougherty County to come out, the city of Albany as well,” Albany Fire Department Chief Cedric Scott, who also serves as Dougherty County Emergency Management Director, said. “I’m just excited about Saturday. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully we’ll see a lot of Dougherty County and Albany residents.”

The Dougherty County Commission earlier this week earmarked $338,000 toward the incentive effort. Residents can get $100 for both an initial vaccination and when they get a second shot, in approximately three to four weeks. The Pfizer vaccine version will be administered, and another clinic is planned for a month from Saturday for the second dose.

Last month, the commission approved $300 payments to employees who provided proof of full vaccination, and the vaccination rate for county staff increased from about 10 percent to nearly 50 percent over a month’s time.

Residents can provide proof of residency on Saturday with a driver’s license or other forms of identification. There is no specific list of acceptable identification, but a valid college identification or other forms of identification will be accepted.

The Valdosta Board of Education approved revisions to the schools’ quarantine plan, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

– Students or staff member will not have to quarantine if they are asymptomatic and fully vaccinated, at least 14 days from the vaccination series.

– Individuals who have had COVID-19 in the previous three months and are asymptomatic are not required to quarantine but should continue wearing a mask indoors.

– A pre-K-12 student who is asymptomatic and was three to six feet from a student with confirmed or probable case of COVID-19 in the classroom setting is not required to quarantine, only if, both students were consistently and correctly wearing well-fitted masks at the time of exposure.

“Myself and my staff believe we can ask for this modified quarantine plan because we are mandating masks and feel safer doing so,” Cason said, “I believe if we had not mandated masks I would not be asking for a modified quarantine plan.”

Fort Gordon is implementing the Biden Administration’s vaccine requirement, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Fort Gordon has begun to implement a required COVID-19 vaccination plan after receiving guidance from the Army.

The Army outlined its plan to fully comply with the Secretary of Defense’s order to require all service members to be fully vaccine. Before the order was put in place last month, vaccines were optional.

“This is quite literally a matter of life and death for our soldiers, their families and the communities in which we live,” Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, the U.S. Army Surgeon General, said in a release. “Case counts and deaths continue to be concerning as the Delta variant spreads, which makes protecting the force through mandatory vaccination a health and readiness priority for the total Army.”

The Augusta Chronicle looks at how effective vaccine incentives have been.

“Anecdotally, we see people at mobile events and who come to the health department, who have expressed that they were hesitant before and now they are taking advantage of it,” [East Central Health District Director Dr. Stephen] Goggans said. “This helps motivate them. So I think it is helping some. At least at our sites it is doing pretty well.”

In terms of numbers, it has not yet moved the needle. Looking at just over a week’s worth of data since the kickoff, Richmond County’s rate of vaccination is virtually the same as Columbia County’s, where there is no incentive program, an Augusta Chronicle analysis found.

It may just be too early to see the impact yet, Goggans said. The city is partnering with a couple of other clinics that have yet to get going and once that happens the impact may be more widely felt, he said.

Georgia Senate President Pro Tem Butch Miller (R-Gainesville) says he will try to pass parts of the Texas abortion law in the next Session of the General Assembly, according to the AJC.

Miller, a Gainesville Republican who is running for lieutenant governor against an opponent backed by former President Donald Trump, said he is working with anti-abortion groups to write the legislation.

The Texas statute is similar to a Georgia law that a federal judge blocked last year that would have banned abortions once fetal cardiac activity is detected, usually about six weeks into a pregnancy and before many women know they’re pregnant. Georgia’s law also extends legal rights to fertilized eggs. The case challenging the Georgia law will be heard in a federal appeals court on Sept. 24.

“We have one of the strongest pro-life laws in the nation, but it’s not in effect,” Miller said. “Because of the courts, it’s not currently saving the lives it was intended to save. If the Texas model allows us to move forward with a pro-life law, I’ll work to get it done.”

Miller is running against two other Republican candidates for the lieutenant governor nomination, including his colleague state Sen. Burt Jones, a Jackson Republican who was recently endorsed by Trump. A spokesman for Jones said while the candidate was supportive of anti-abortion laws, he would need to know the particulars of the proposed legislation before weighing in.

From WSB-TV:

Miller said he fully expects to see Republicans simply copy Texas’ abortion law and file an exact duplicate here in Georgia.

Miller is running for lieutenant governor, so is State Senator Burt Jones, who said the exact same thing.

“There’s probably going to be several states that do something very similar to that. And I wouldn’t doubt it at all,” Jones said.

“If you look at the vote tally in the house on HB 481, it passed by two votes. Two votes. That is hardly a mandate in Georgia that the state wants this. It’s not,” [Democratic State Rep. Beth] Moore said.

Before any of that happens, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals will hear the state’s appeal on the Georgia heartbeat abortion law. That will happen on Sept. 24.

“Rural Georgia population losses make district drawing tricky for Republican leaders,” reads the AJC headline.

The five state Senate and five state House districts that lost the most residents between 2010 and 2020 – about 68,000 residents – are in rural parts of the state, according to U.S. Census figures released last month. Meanwhile, the districts that have grown the most are all in metro areas near Atlanta, Augusta and Savannah.

House District 139, which encompasses Taylor, Macon and Dooley counties and parts of Peach County in central Georgia, lost 16% — or about 8,600 — of its residents in the past decade. Senate District 12, which includes all or parts of 11 counties in southwest Georgia, lost nearly 10% of its residents, about 16,000 people.

But with rural Georgia losing residents, while metro areas have seen huge growth, rural parts of the state are likely going to lose districts. So Republicans will want to draw GOP-leaning districts in the increasingly diverse suburban and exurban parts of the state.

“This will be a continuation of a pattern that has been going on for about 50 years of South Georgia losing seats to North Georgia, and more specifically losing seats to metro Atlanta,” said Charles Bullock, a University of Georgia political scientist and author of the book “Redistricting: The Most Political Activity in America.”

State Rep. Gerald Greene, a Cuthbert Republican who represents a sprawling nine-county district in southwest Georgia that has declined by 4,000 people since 2010, said it’s too early to worry about what redistricting could mean for him.

“You have to be careful if you’re dismantling any districts currently held by an African American legislator,” Bullock said. “That would surely get them sued.”

Bullock said Republicans will have to decide if they want to plan for short-term or long-term control. If short-term control is more important, they will try to craft as many Republican-leaning districts as possible. But if they are thinking long term, Bullock said, they’ll decide which districts they can confidently hold for the next decade as Georgia’s population changes, and cede the rest.

Senate District 12 is represented by Sen. Freddie Powell Sims (D-Albany) and House District 139 by State Rep. Patty Bentley (D-Butler).

Downtown Rome businesses have seen increased traffic since the beginning of an open alcohol container trial period, according to the Rome News Tribune.

[Downtown Development Authority] Director Aundi Lesley collected data from two retailers and three restaurants on weekend foot traffic and sales increase for the month of August. The increase varies, she said, with one retailer recording a 28% increase in sales and another recording a 95% increase compared to August 2020.

Rome police also reported that there haven’t been any alcohol-related issues downtown so far. There was one incident where people used aluminum cans when walking around the Town Green and another incident where someone tried to use a glass.

Glynn County Commissioners voted to ban alcohol from the beaches of St Simons Island during the Georgia-Florida game weekend, according to The Brunswick News.

The intent of the ban on Oct. 29-30 is to reduce the burden on public safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Commissioner Cap Fendig, who made the motion to impose the ban, said public safety has to be protected, and there are no other suggestions to curtail excessive alcohol consumption on the beach.

The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority will use Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax proceeds to buy a shuttered state hospital, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The Rome-Floyd County Development Authority announced Thursday the state has accepted their offer to buy the Northwest Georgia Regional Hospital property for $2.25 million, using SPLOST funds.

The hospital was one of the state-run mental health facilities. It was closed as part of a settlement agreement with the U.S. Department of Justice regarding treatment of patients in the state’s seven psychiatric hospitals. The closure left 700 employees without jobs and 2,000 patients without medical care.

The primary obstacle to a deal has always been the millions in debt owed on bonds the state issued to improve the hospital’s facilities before the decision to shut it down.

“I have felt all along that the highest and best use of the property was for job creation,” Rome Mayor Craig McDaniel said. “I want to thank Gov. Brian Kemp, the State Properties Commission and especially our legislative delegation for their support of our request.”

Gainesville City schools will cross-train more teachers for ESOL, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Gainesville City school district has partnered with Brenau University and the University of North Georgia to train its faculty to teach English to Speakers of Other Languages, with plans to train almost all of its teachers in the next three years.

Nearly one-third of the district’s 8,000 students are English learners — the highest in the entire state — and the unofficial number is even higher, about 50%, when factoring in those students who become proficient enough to shed the English to Speakers of Other Languages label but whose performance is still monitored for a couple of years afterward. Roughly 60% of the district’s students are Hispanic, and most ESOL students test out of the program by the time they reach fourth grade.

The district has roughly 800 faculty and 34% of them are currently qualified to teach ESOL. The goal is to have 90% of them endorsed in the next three years, Williams said, with as many as two-thirds by the spring of next year. Endorsement, in this case, refers to additional training in a particular subject area for teachers who are already certified.

Oakwood City Council is considering a moratorium on new condos, according to AccessWDUN.

The moratorium specifically is for development applications for condos on parcels located in zoning district R-4 Multi-Family Residential within the city limits. It will last until November 9. The full resolution can be found here.

Second reading and final adoption will take place at the October meeting.

The moratorium will last until November 9.

Julius Hall filed a lawsuit in Chatham County Superior Court contesting his removal from the ballot for Mayor of Port Wentworth because of a previous felony conviction, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Disqualified Port Wentworth mayoral candidate Julius Hall asked the Chatham County Superior Court on Thursday to grant an injunction that would prevent his removal from the Nov. 2 ballot.

The brief hearing focused solely on whether Hall’s injunction will be granted and did not discuss whether or not Hall was qualified as a candidate.

Hall plans on appealing the disqualification itself at a later date, according to the language in the injunction request. The deadline for Hall for file an appeal is Sept. 19, according to City of Port Wentworth documents.

Port Wentworth’s elections superintendent, Shanta Scarboro, ruled Sept. 10 that Hall had not satisfied all the requirements of the law to run for mayor. State code bars released felons from running for office for 10 years after the completion of their sentence.

Hall said part of why he’s fighting to run for office is because he “wants to change the culture of people thinking that life is over for them” after they get out of prison.

“You can come out, be productive and be an honest person,” Hall said.

Columbia County Commissioner Dewey Galeas will seek reelection to District 4, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Dewey Galeas said Thursday that an incumbent would be the better choice to help guide the county through its period of record growth. Columbia County is among the top 50 fastest-growing counties in the nation, according to U.S. Census Bureau data.

“I’ve discovered that it takes a while to learn about the office, and you have a window where you’ve learned enough about the office to be effective,” he said. “I believe that I’ve gotten there and I’d like to continue to be effective and carry all the lessons I’ve learned into a second term.”

Cedartown will elect a City Commissioner in a Special Election, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Sparked by a returned check for a qualifying fee by current commissioner Jessica Brewster Payton, the special election will be held in conjunction with November’s municipal general election.

Polk County Elections Director Brande Coggins reported that Payton submitted paperwork and payment on Wednesday afternoon to qualify for the special election.

The first-term commissioner said she had planned to qualify in a statement issued Friday that described the chain of events that led to the returned check and her disqualification from the municipal general election.

With only the three incumbents qualifying for the three Cedartown City Commission seats up for election this year, Payton’s disqualification meant there weren’t enough candidates to fill the open seats. That led to county and city attorneys going over Georgia state law and determining to hold a special election for the seat currently held by Payton.

The other two Cedartown city commissioners who qualified for November’s election — Sam Branch and Matt Foster — are unopposed and will retain their seats for another term.

A vote on an extension of the current Education Local Option Sales Tax for the Polk School District will also be put to all Polk County voters.

Savannah opened a new city services center, according to the Savannah Morning News.

In recent weeks hundreds of City of Savannah employees across 17 departments have been busy moving to a new city services complex in west Savannah. Officials say the new complex will help consolidate numerous services, a benefit for both citizens and employees.

The 38-acre site will house approximately 600 employees in 11 buildings and has been under development for two years. Assistant City Manager and Chief Development Officer Heath Lloyd called the project is a “win-win” for all involved.

“A win for our residents and the city in terms of efficiencies gained due to the collocation of city staff into one facility, thereby reducing the costs to the citizens while increasing collaborative efforts between our City departments,” he said. “A win for the residents and the business community since it will provide one-stop shop for residential/business permitting and development. I am thrilled about the realization of such an awesome project with so much potential!”

Bibb County Superintendent Curtis Jones announced he will retire at the end of the school year, according to 13WMAZ.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 16, 2021

Rhea is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Furever After Rescue in Macon, GA.

Hi I’m Rhea! I’m a 12 week old puppy that was given to a shelter along with my brothers and sisters when my owner could not keep us anymore. Lucky for me the rescue took us in and I’ve gotten plenty of love and attention since then! I love to play and cuddle. My foster mom even calls me her snuggle bunny because I’m always up for a good cuddle in her arms or lap when I’m not playing. I can be nervous when I meet people I don’t know, but I warm up quickly and then get excited to be with them. I love dogs too!

Aphrodite is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Furever After Rescue in Macon, GA.

Hi, my name is Aphrodite but my friends call me Rosie! I am a female that is about 10 weeks old (estimated birthday is 6/16/21), and I currently weigh about 12.5 lbs. I am a lab mix of some sort, but no one has seen my parents so that is just a guess (I was found as a stray with my siblings). I am a total love bug and velcro dog that wants to be curled up beside you or in your lap. I love to run and play outside, but I like to stick close by my humans too. I am still a young puppy so I am still learning tricks like “sit” and working on potty training and walking nicely on a leash. I love to chew on toys too. I am very friendly and love other people, children, and other dogs. I will even play with the cats, so I get along well with everybody.

Gertrude is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Furever After Rescue in Macon, GA.

Hi, my name is Gertrude. I am about 5 months old (estimated birthday is 4/8/21). No one is quite sure what kind of dog I am, but the best guess is a lab/pit mix. I am a very happy and energetic little girl. I love playing with everyone and everything. I am very smart! I know how to sit, shake, fetch, and LOVE to do treat puzzles. I am a very quick learner. I can be a little rambunctious at times, but I listen very well and will calm down when asked. I am still learning to walk on the leash but I will walk beside you when I am not on it. I am potty trained and will sleep in a crate through the night.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 16, 2021

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England, for the New World on September 16, 1620. Thirty-five of 102 passengers were members of the English Separatist Church seeking religious freedom from the Church of England. Originally aiming to reach Virginia, Mayflower eventually landed at Cape Cod, Massachusetts.

A single pistol shot on September 16, 1893 opened former Cherokee land in Oklahoma to white settlers in a “land run” to claim property.

The original stimulus act was announced to bring $70 million in federal money to Georgia to build roads and public buildings on September 16, 1933.

On September 16, 1940, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed the Selective Service and Training Act requiring males 26-35 years of age to register for the draft. On the same day, Sam Rayburn of Texas was elected Speaker of the United States House of Representatives and would go on to hold the post for 17 years total, the longest tenure of any Speaker.

R.E.M. and Gregg Allman were among the inductees into the Georgia Music Hall of Fame on September 16, 2006.

GPB has an article on the 1957 Les Paul Goldtop guitar used by Duane Allman on the first two Allman Brothers records and on “Layla” by Derek and the Dominoes. In 2019, that guitar sold for $1.25 million dollars.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger opposes former Atlanta City Council member Cathy Woolard as Chair of the Fulton County Board of Elections, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 15, 2021

Sadie is a two-year old female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the North Georgia Animal Alliance, Inc. in Fort Oglethorpe, GA.

Sadie is sweet natured but high energy. She had been with an older couple who had some kind of procedure done so she could not bark. She just whines but seems to be learning to bark again somehow. She seems to like other dogs but they have a small Shih Tzu & Sadie is so big she ends up stepping all over her while trying to play with her. Sadie needs to be trained not to jump up on people so she would not be good around small children or elderly people because of her size & energy level until she is trained. She would make a good pet because is loving and desires human attention. She would be a loyal companion sticking close by you. She is house broken as long as you take her out on a regular basis. She enjoys squeaky toys.

Cheddar is a male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the North Georgia Animal Alliance, Inc. in Fort Oglethorpe, GA.

Cheddar was originally named Growler. He got his name from the noise he makes when he’s being petted and loved on. He’s very affectionate and likes attention. Very energetic and rowdy. Loves wrestling and playing with his siblings. He has strong watchdog instincts, and barks when someone pulls up the driveway. He thinks he needs to let you know when anyone is around outside. He’s not a bad barker he’s just very observant of who and what is around his yard. He likes chasing sticks and balls in the yard and tugging a rope. He is being re-homed because he does not get along well with his brother, a large bull mastiff. He is okay with his sister, a medium boxer. He weighs about 85 pounds, up-to-date on vaccines and HW prevention.

Boscoe is a year-old, 35-pound male mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from Emily’s Friends in Chickamauga, GA.

Boscoe is a very shy guy and he is a dog that will come and lay next to you and wants to be petted, but he does not like to be picked up. MUST HAVE FENCE! He has been on his own probably since he was a pup, living in a mobile home park but was never owned by someone, only fed by the people that lived there in the neighborhood. He never has had a bed to sleep on, he would sleep under decks and cars. Boscoe will need patience and someone that is willing to work with him, if you want a challenge, he is the dog for you. He lives with other dogs now and gets along with them just fine. Boscoe does love to get up in the bed and snuggle beside his foster mom on the pillow. He is a great boy who deserves a wonderful home.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 15, 2021

On September 15, 1831, Dr. Samuel Worcester and Dr. Elizur Butler – missionaries – were tried in a Lawrenceville courtroom for living as white people among the Cherokee and refusing to take an oath of loyalty to Georgia, convicted and sentenced to hard labor. Some historians refer to this case, which went to the United States Supreme Court on appeal, as the beginning of the events that led to the forced removal of the Cherokee people from Georgia on the “Trail of Tears.”

HMS Beagle, carrying Charles Darwin, arrived at the Gallapagos Islands on September 15, 1835.

On September 15, 1904, Wilbur Wright made the first in-flight turn in an airplane.

Early on the morning of September 15, 1963, a bomb exploded in the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, killing four young girls.

On September 15, 1996, the Texas Rangers retired #34 in honor of the most dominant pitcher in professional baseball history, Nolan Ryan.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From Fort Oglethorpe in Extreme Northwest Georgia, brought to you by the modern miracle of Twitter.

The United States Department of Justice announced an investigation into Georgia state prisons, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 14, 2021

Bella Boop is a large senior female Labrador Retriever and Terrier mix who is available for adoption from the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in Newnan, GA.

Bella is great with people, dogs and cats.

Millie is a senior female Collie mix who is available for adoption from the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in Newnan, GA.

Millie is a sweet old gal. She is heartworm positive but at her age we opted to treat with a monthly treatment which is much easier on the dog with no activity restrictions. We would continue to pay for this until she tests negative which is between 6-18 months using the treatment. Millie would like a quiet home with no small children or high energy dogs to live out the remainder of her years. She does fine with lower energy dogs.

Buddy is a male Carolina dog and Chow mix who is available for adoption from the Newnan-Coweta Humane Society in Newnan, GA.

My name is Buddy. I am a sweet mellow boy who does great with people and other dogs. I would love to lounge around and take naps with you. If you think I might be a for fit for your home please fill out an application.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 14, 2021

Francis Scott Key composed the lyrics to “The Star Spangled Banner” on September 14, 1814.

On September 14, 1885, Georgia Governor Henry McDaniel signed legislation granting up to 200 acres in Fulton and DeKalb Counties to the federal government to be used in the constuction of Fort McPherson, which was named after Union Maj. Gen. James McPherson, who was killed in the Battle of Atlanta in 1864.

On September 14, 1901, President William McKinley died of an infection from gunshot wounds suffered eight days earlier.

On September 14, 1974, Eric Clapton’s cover of the Bob Marley song, “I Shot the Sheriff” reached #1 on the music charts. After 46 years, we still don’t know who shot the deputy.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

I’m sure this was well-intentioned, but if you walked up to a fountain, and all the water was “gold,” would your first thought be someone peed in the water let’s fight childhood cancer? From WTVM:

Have you noticed the gold fountains in Uptown? They’re gold in honor of Childhood Cancer Awareness Month!

Childhood Cancer Awareness Month is recognized every September by childhood cancer organizations around the world.

With a goal to increase awareness and raise funds for those affected by childhood cancer, the American Childhood Cancer Organization encourages everyone to Go Gold® during September in honor and in memory of kids with cancer!

From the American Childhood Cancer Organization:

Why We Go Gold

In 1997, a group of parents of children impacted by cancer chose gold to represent childhood cancer. Thus, the gold ribbon! Ever since then, supporters around the world Go Gold to represent childhood cancer warriors and heroes.

Governor Brian Kemp delivered the keynote last night at Heritage Action’s “Save Our Paychecks Tour,” according to 11Alive.

Other speakers at the event included Reps Rick Allen (GA-12), Andrew Clyde (GA-09), Jody Hice (GA-10), Barry Loudermilk (GA-11), former San Francisco salon owner Erica Kious, and Heritage Action’s Executive Director Jessica Anderson.

From the AJC:

Kemp assailed other state leaders who tried to “control everything” during the first waves of coronavirus infections and warned of creeping government overreach that threatened to push Georgians to a breaking point.

“People are going to revolt. Government is only as good as what people can withstand,” he said. “And if you try to do more than that, you have an uprising, or a mutiny.”

A quartet of Republican U.S. House members assailed what they framed as Biden’s reckless agenda. And Kerry Luedke, a prominent Cherokee County GOP activist, said the administration’s “tyranny” with vaccine requirements will hamper small businesses.

It was Kemp, however, who outlined the opposition to vaccine requirements in the starkest terms, casting the feud as a struggle for personal freedom.

“People have to make that decision for themselves. The government pushing that on them is only going to make people turn away and fight that even more,” Kemp said. “If they decide to do that, it’s their right to as an American. Even if somebody disagrees.”

Kemp said there’s a growing “silent majority,” too, that opposes the federal mandates and will show up at the ballot box in 2022 to back the GOP ticket.

“It has never been more important for us to be happy warriors, to fight the good fight,” he said. “But we have to be happy and we have to be excited about our ideas, because they’re better than the other side.”

Governor Kemp yesterday appointed his former Chief Operating Officer, Candice Broce, as the new Commissioner of the Georgia Department of Human Services, according to the AJC.

“I’m truly honored that the board would support me in this initiative,” Broce said after the vote. “All of you have been incredibly helpful and I’ll be leaning on you as I get familiar with all of the DHS operations.”

Broce is replacing the outgoing Gerlda Hines, whom Kemp appointed to lead the State Accounting Office, after Hines served about two months as the agency’s commissioner.

She is a former communications director and deputy executive counsel for Kemp, and served as the governor’s chief operating officer. She was previously Kemp’s chief spokeswoman when he was secretary of state.

A DHS spokeswoman said Broce will serve both as DHS commissioner and DFCS director. DHS Board Vice Chairman Randall Smith said Broce’s appointment was a strategic move to “cut out some of the duplication of process.”

As commissioner, Broce will manage nearly 10,000 DHS employees in positions that oversee programs such as child safety, child support, food stamps, welfare and elder abuse. She said her dual roles will help streamline operational issues such as hiring new employees and keeping the agency’s technology up to date.

DHS Board Chairwoman Tiena Fletcher said she was impressed with the work Candice Broce has done in her time working for the state.

“I know the governor has a lot of faith in you that you can do this job and we’re going to expect great things from you,” Fletcher said.

Republican U.S. Representative Buddy Carter (R-Pooler) also made the case against the Biden mandates, according to The Brunswick News.

“We are in a stage in this country’s history where we are experiencing government overreach in its most tyrannical form,” Carter said. “Joe Biden is now mandating vaccines for federal workers and all employers with over 100 employees to require COVID vaccinations.”

They’re not the only ones required to be fully vaccinated in Biden’s Sept. 9 order. All contractors who do work for the federal government, as well as all health care workers in facilities receiving federal Medicare and Medicaid, also must be vaccinated.

“Mask mandates only serve to further erode confidence in the vaccine among the hesitant,” Carter said. “This will affect over 100 million Americans who may now face fines and punishments should they still choose to remain unvaccinated.”

Carter said he does not understand why Biden is willing to force Americans to accept vaccinations while allowing hundreds of thousands of illegal immigrants to pour through the nation’s southern border.

“(The immigrants are) untested and unvaccinated, yet now he won’t let American citizens go to work or have a job if they’ve chosen not to get vaccinated,” Carter said. “This is incredibly wrong.”

“(Neither) President Biden nor any elected officials should force vaccines on American citizens. Americans are smart enough to make decisions about what is best for themselves and their families.”

“We don’t need a president in office who thinks he is a king,” Carter said.

“We can’t allow Biden and the Democrats to take our freedoms in the name of the pandemic,” Carter said. “They shut down our schools and our churches, and now they’re trying to overrun our rights.”

“Rather than invading the privacy of Americans or inserting bureaucrats between patients and doctors, Joe Biden should work in a bipartisan fashion to instill confidence in the vaccine and address the concerns of those still uncomfortable with its safety and effectiveness.”

Democrats on the Georgia State House Higher Education Committee said Gov. Kemp should stop opposing mask mandates, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald.

“We need our leaders to fight against the virus, not against our students and faculty,” said Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn.

“A leader makes decisions,” added Rep. Rhonda Burnough, D-Riverdale. “Georgia needs a leader, not a follower.”

Kemp has held firm against imposing statewide mask mandates on either college campuses or K-12 classrooms in Georgia, criticizing such requirements as divisive.

But Clark, who holds a doctorate in microbiology from Emory University, said nothing works to prevent the spread of COVID-19 better than making mask wearing and vaccinations mandatory.

“We have data [showing] that mask mandates work. We also know vaccines work,” she said. “The more people we have vaccinated on our campuses, the better we’re able to stop the virus.”

Protests in favor of mask mandates are planned across Georgia, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Protests are scheduled to take place on 17 campuses across the state, including the University of Georgia, Georgia Tech and Georgia Southern University, over the next four days with protest scheduled to start an hour later each day. The protest is being organized by the Georgia Chapter of the American Association of University Professors.

[A Sociology Professor] said that since AU is the state’s only public medical school, it’s more frustrating and embarrassing for faculty since the university is not listening to the science and trying to stop the spread of COVID-19.

“We have an institute for public and preventative health, yet we are not following the basic scientific guidelines outlined by the CDC,” he said. “I think, many of the medical faculty, are frankly embarrassed to be at a medical university where we are not following public health measures.”

From the Capitol Beat News Service via the Athens Banner Herald:

Protests have been scheduled on university system campuses in Atlanta, Albany, Augusta, Athens, Savannah, Columbus and other locations. Demonstrators will gather at different times each day.

Yesterday we noted that the Valdosta Daily Times was incorrectly reporting that Georgia has vaccinated nearly its entire population. Today that same incorrect headline and article are featured on the Dalton Daily Citizen News.

That error also found its way to the Union-Recorder, Yahoo News, and Georgia Trend Daily, as they copy and paste.

Savannah-area governments and agencies are paying $500 to incentivize employee vaccination, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The City of Savannah, Chatham County, the Savannah-Chatham County Public School System and Chatham Area Transit have joined together to offer a $500 vaccine incentive to all full and part-time employees. The new incentive program was announced on Monday.

The four entities employ upwards of 10,000 individuals and [are] offering the incentive to all, including those already vaccinated. Each organization will be releasing guidelines and timelines to employees this week.

“I agree with the mayor’s goal of (vaccination goal of) 80%. I hope we can get to 100%, but we know that the vaccine is safe, we know that it’s effective, we know that it’s the best way to protect people against the worst impacts of this virus, including hospitalization and death,” [new City Manager Jay Melder] said.

“It’s the best way that an organization can protect itself against any type of production loss or inefficiency as a consequence of needing to quarantine or losing people to sick leave as they deal with the virus.”

The Clarke County Board of Education adopted an incentive plan for employee vaccination, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The BOE passed a measure Thursday to pay $500 to any of the school system’s nearly 2,400 employees who show proof of full vaccination by Dec. 1, 2021 through a one-time pay supplement, paid out at the end of the month.

The vote passed 7-2 with board members Linda Davis and Kirrena Gallagher voting against the program.

This incentive program comes after Athens-Clarke County passed its own program, giving $100 per dose for Athens residents, workers, and students.

Coweta County has a two-tiered incentive programs for residents and public employees, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Cowetans receiving a COVID-19 vaccine after this week will be eligible for a $200 incentive.

The incentives will be paid with $100 Visa gift cards. Cowetans receiving a two-dose vaccine will get one gift card per dose. Those choosing the single-shot vaccine will get two $100 gift cards with their dose.

The incentive program was approved by the Coweta County Board of Commissioners on Thursday.

The commissioners also confirmed an incentive program for county employees and elected officials who are vaccinated. That program will be retroactive for any employee or official who has received a vaccine or receives the first shot by Sept. 15. The second dose must be administered by Nov. 1.

Those who have already been vaccinated have until Sept. 15 to provide proof of vaccination to their department director or elected official. The incentive is $400, or $200 per dose. In accordance with IRS regulations, taxes will be taken out of a future paycheck based on the value of the incentive.

Coweta County Administrator Michael Fouts said that the U.S. Treasury Department and President Joe Biden are encouraging state and local governments to create incentive programs for vaccination.

Under the program, any pharmacy with a location in Coweta County would be eligible to participate, as would Georgia Department of Health vaccinating sites.

Pharmacies would distribute the gift cards and provide a regular accounting to the county. Those receiving vaccines would need to sign a certificate of eligibility, which basically verifies they are county residents, and sign a hold harmless agreement in regards to the county and the pharmacy, according to Fouts.

Democratic candidate Sabrina Kent-Greene, running for State House District 165 in a Special Election, says the minimum wage should be $48.15, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Three others entered the race during last week’s qualifying period. They are Clinton Young, a retired Army specialist and vending machine businessman who mounted unsuccessful runs for Savannah City Council in 2007, 2011 and 2015, Chatham County Elections Board Member Antwan Lang and former Savannah Mayor Edna Jackson.

At the top of Greene-Kent’s list of issues is the minimum wage. Georgia law sets the minimum wage rate at $5.15 per hour, but for most jobs, the Federal Fair Labor Standards Act applies, meaning most employees must earn a minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

Greene-Kent says that’s not enough. She’s thinking $48.15 an hour instead.

“I think that living wages should have been going up by $1 every year since 1976. And if that be the case, then our minimum wage right now should be sitting at $48.15 an hour,” Greene-Kent said.

“Let’s think about all the companies that are making zillions of dollars a year and billions a quarter off our backs off the backs of the poor off the backs of the middle class,” Greene-Kent said. “They make all this money every year, but they pay us nothing.”

More likely to win the HD 165 Special Election are the two candidates who have previously served in office. From the Savannah Morning News:

The Georgia House District 165 special election is a race between two political prodigies in Edna Jackson and Antwan Lang.

Both launched their public profiles in their teenage years: Jackson as a youth leader in Savannah’s civil rights movement; Lang as a legislative intern for local state lawmakers and the youngest-ever appointee to a city affairs commission.

That Jackson and Lang came to political relevance a half-century apart — Jackson is 77; Lang is 27 — makes the Nov. 2 vote to choose a successor to the late Mickey Stephens one for the ages.

Jackson and Lang are the unquestioned frontrunners in the four-way race for the vacant post. The other two candidates, Sabrina Greene-Kent and Clinton Young, may peel away enough votes in what is expected to be a low-turnout election to force a Jackson-Lang runoff.

Chattahoochee Judicial Circuit District Attorney Mark Jones (D) is in a unique place for a sitting DA – the defendant’s table. From the Ledger-Enquirer:

Jones and Whittington face charges of interfering with government property and first-degree criminal damage to property in the May 17, 2020, incident in which Jones shot a video encouraging people to vote, and engaged custom car enthusiasts to appear with him.

As the filming ended, Whittington was among the drivers who circled Jones and others while spinning his tires and “drifting,” leaving rings of burned rubber in the lot.

Patterson told jurors this endangered those Whittington circled, and ruined the paint on parking spaces in the lot, restriping work the city finished just months earlier. Jones never sought permission for this, the prosecutor said.

The city estimated the cost of repaving the entire lot at $309,000, a price authorities used initially to set the defendants’ bonds. The repair now is estimated at $2,500, Patterson said.

But the first engineer who examined the lot had a much less expensive estimate: $478, just to restripe the parking spaces, noted attorney Chris Breault, who represents Jones. He claimed city administrators kept pushing for a higher cost, to make the offense a felony.

City emails he obtained prove this, Breault said: “They did not care what the actual damage was. … They made up a felony case.”

He called it “a calculated political hit job” born of fears that Jones’ viral video was shifting the momentum of the district attorney’s race, giving Jones an edge over incumbent Julia Slater. She lost to Jones in the Democratic Primary.

“Within four days, it had 100,000 views,” Breault said of the video posted to Facebook. That’s what prompted authorities to press the criminal case, he said.

“All of a sudden, they want to make Erik Whittington a felon. They want to make Mark Jones a felon,” he said.

Georgia will run ads promoting the availability of free state-issued ID cards that can be used to prove identity for voting, according to the AJC.

The marketing campaign is funded by $250,000 budgeted by the Georgia General Assembly last spring along with the state’s new voting law, which requires state ID cards or other documents to cast an absentee ballot.

The public information effort will start in October and focus on letting Georgians know they can obtain free voter identification cards through the Department of Driver Services.

House Speaker David Ralston said he sought the funding to address concerns that not all voters have a state ID. About 272,000 of Georgia’s 7.7 million registered voters lack an ID number linked to their voter information, according to state election records.

“It’s not only increasing security levels, but also making voting more accessible,” said Ralston, a Republican from Blue Ridge. “And this is one more way we can do that.”

The Department of Driver Services also plans to provide information about voter IDs at community centers, food banks, senior centers and libraries.

Free voter ID cards are available at any Department of Driver Services office with proof of identification documents. Offices are closed every Monday and open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m., Tuesday through Friday, and from 8 a.m. to noon on Saturday.

Georgia State House members want the Department of Agriculture involved in the cannabis industry, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

“This is an agricultural product; we’re an agricultural state,” Georgia Rep. Micah Gravley, R-Douglasville, said during the inaugural meeting of the Medical Cannabis Commission Oversight Committee. “Having them involved going forward is a good thing.”

Gravley was chief sponsor of legislation the General Assembly passed two years ago creating a state commission to award licenses to companies to grow marijuana and convert the leaf crop into low-THC cannabis oil.

The oil is intended to treat patients with a variety of diseases including cancer, seizure disorders, multiple sclerosis, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Crohn’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, mitochondrial disease and sickle-cell anemia.

Rep. Sam Watson, R-Moultrie, said Utah’s agriculture department is playing an active role in that state’s cannabis oil program, which Georgia is looking to as a model. Both states permit only low-THC in cannabis oil, far below a level that would make a user “high,” and neither permit recreational use of marijuana.

Watson said getting the agriculture department involved in Georgia’s program is “definitely a conversation to be had.”

Gravley said the oversight committee should move as quickly as possible to identify labs that can test the licensees’ cannabis oil for quality and compliance with the low-THC requirement.

“Having a variety of labs available to cultivators would be a good thing,” he said. “There are those who are in need of this oil.”

The Georgia State House Study Committee on Childhood Lead Exposure heard testimony that the state should adopt stricter lead standards, according to the Rome News Tribune.

A top state public health official told a House of Representatives study committee on Monday that Georgia should require a full clearance inspection after a lead abatement inspection.

Currently, according to Christy Kuriatnyk, director of the Georgia Healthy Homes and Lead Poisoning Prevention Program, all that’s required is a visual inspection.

“You can’t see lead dust,” Kuriatnyk told the House study committee on childhood lead exposure.

Kuriatnyk also recommended the state should increase the length of time a landlord must submit a lead abatement plan from 14 to 30 days; and require landlords to submit a letter the property will no longer be used as a dwelling, if that is the intent.

Another recommendation: if a landlord does not disclose a home has the potential for lead hazards and such hazards are found, then tenants can void their lease.

Rep. Katie Dempsey, R-Rome, chairs the committee which was designed to study early intervention and prevention of childhood lead exposure. According to the legislature, lead paint is present in one-third of the nation’s homes, particularly older residences.

Buckhead cityhood proponents tout a study of the financial feasability of the proposed municipality, according to the AJC.

Based strictly on the financials and barring any “social, political and governance issues,” the study commissioned by the Buckhead City Committee found that a new city could sport a $100 million surplus on its annual budget, thanks to its large tax base.

But the report doesn’t address the big question: How would the new city’s formation affect Atlanta’s budget and how would Atlanta handle the financial losses if Buckhead City were created?

Bill White, CEO and chair of the Buckhead City Committee, said that’s beside the point.

“The study is about Buckhead City, not Atlanta, but with a few publicly available numbers, the financial impact on the City of Atlanta is clear, and turns out to be very slight,” White said.

Valdosta State University’s Center for South Georgia Regional Impact conducted the study after several other large research centers that typically conduct cityhood feasibility studies declined, citing conflicts of interest with Atlanta.

The feasibility study estimated that Buckhead City would have just over 100,000 residents, and could take in annual revenues of about $203.5 million. More than half that — about $119 million — would come from property taxes, the study found. Buckhead accounts for about 20% of the city’s population, but about 40% of its assessed property values.

That $203 million accounts for about 10% of Atlanta’s overall budget.

But state legislators who represent Buckhead oppose the proposal, according to the AJC.

“The study does nothing to address my concerns that if Buckhead secedes from Atlanta it will effectively defund critical city services, including law enforcement,” [State Rep. Betsy Holland (D)] said. “That kind of instability for Atlanta will have a devastating domino effect throughout the state.”

State Sen. Jen Jordan, a Democrat who is running for state Attorney General, has spoken out against cityhood before. On Monday, she had specific concerns about the legality of the effort and the potential consequences for the state’s finances.

“Deannexing from the City of Atlanta would immediately be challenged on constitutional grounds- impairment of contracts- and would have a significant impact on the state’s bond rating and financial health.”

State Rep. Donna McLeod (D-Lawrenceville) is asking about Lawrenceville’s use of car tag cameras, according to the AJC.

State Rep. Donna McLeod, D-Lawrenceville, and her legislative team are filing an open records request for more information about the city’s 12 cameras. The legislator has pressed city officials for months about how the camera locations were chosen and whether they are targeting Black residents, but says she’s still dissatisfied with the answers.

McLeod has argued that the cameras are located in predominantly Black neighborhoods and that the current crime levels in these areas do not justify the placement of the cameras. A resident of Lawrenceville, she worries that the cameras unfairly target Black individuals.

“I’m not an outsider; I don’t see that crime,” said McLeod during a recorded virtual meeting with city officials. “I will not accept biased or racially motivated Flock cameras in our neighborhoods of color.”

Georgia Gwinnett College was recognized as the most ethnically-diverse in the South for the eighth year, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

[US News & World Report] gave GGC the top spot in its ranking of ethnically diverse southern regional colleges in its annual college and university rankings, which were released on Monday. Smaller schools, like GGC, are considered regional colleges as opposed to larger public and private schools such as the University of Georgia, the Georgia Institute of Technology and Emory University, which are counted in the magazine’s rankings as “national universities.”

GGC had 11,627 students last fall, with 33% of the being Black, 27% white, 25% Hispanic, 11% Asian, 4% multi-ethnic and less than 1% listed as either Native American, Pacific Islander or unknown. This is the eighth year that GGC has ranked No. 1 for ethnic diversity among southern regional colleges.

The school said 75% of its students last fall were from Gwinnett County, with the remainder coming from 32 U.S. states and 120 countries.

The school was ranked No. 3 in the Top 20 Public Schools category, as well as No. 3 among southern regional colleges in the area of innovative approaches to curriculum, faculty, students, campus life, technology and facilities. Last year, GGC ranked No. 4 in innovation. GGC officials also said the school was named a “top performer” for social mobility and it ranked No. 58 among the best public and private regional colleges across a 12-state region in the south. It was the highest ranking school from the University System of Georgia in that category for regional colleges.

There was one new ranking for GGC this year. U.S. News and World Report began ranking nursing bachelor degree programs for the first time this year and GGC was ranked No. 12 among 23 programs in Georgia.

The City of Augusta continues hosting meetings for public input on budget priorities, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Gwinnett County public schools retained their accreditation after a special review, according to AccessWDUN.

Superintendent Calvin J. Watts announced Monday he had received word last week from Cognia, the district’s accrediting agency, that there was no change in the district’s accreditation status.

“I am pleased to report to our community that our school district remains in good standing with Cognia and our district has retained its status as a fully accredited school district,” Watts said in a public statement. “This review is not something that we have taken lightly. Our district governance and leadership team will learn from Cognia’s findings as we move forward together. As a school district, we understand the importance of accreditation as a measure of quality and success and as a tool for improvement. As a teaching and learning organization, we will use the findings from the report to guide and strengthen our continuous improvement efforts.”

Cognia found two areas where the school district – specifically the school board – needed to work on improvements.

The so-called Improvement Priorities were identified as follows:

1- Establishment of and adherence to policies that are designed to support system effectiveness.
2- Adherence to a code of ethics and functions within defined roles and responsibilities.

In the two areas, Cognia issued directives for the district and its governance team to complete prior to a monitoring review to be scheduled before May 2022.

The Hall County Tax Commissioner is mailing property tax statements, according to AccessWDUN.

With the arrival of property tax season this month, the Hall County Tax Commissioner’s Office will mail approximately 92,500 tax statements for real and personal property on Monday, Sept. 13. Taxes for 2021 will be due Nov. 15.

If you own property within the city limits of Gainesville, Flowery Branch, Buford, or Oakwood, you will receive a separate city tax bill from that municipality in addition to the Hall County property tax statement.

Floyd County Commissioners will discuss an ordinance intended to expand broadband internet availability, according to the Rome News Tribune.

In the ordinance the county is seeking to partner with broadband providers in order to install the infrastructure to expand broadband access to underserved areas.

County engineers would be listed as the single point of contact for all projects, meaning they wouldn’t need approval from the county commission before moving forward with construction.

According to a map provided by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs, about 9% of Floyd County doesn’t have broadband internet.

Over the past year and a half, the pandemic has proved that internet is not a luxury but a necessity, County Manager Jamie McCord previously stated, especially for households with school aged children.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 13, 2021

Mallory is an adult female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA.

Lola is an adult female Boxer mix who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA.

Jersey is an adult male Labrador Retriever and American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from the Metter Animal Shelter in Metter, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 13, 2021

The Second Continental Congress opened in Philadelphia on September 13, 1775; Georgia was represented by Archibald Bulloch, Lyman Hall,  John Houstoun, and John Zubly.

On September 13, 1788, the Confederation Congress voted to implement the Constitution and authorized states to elect Senators and Representatives and called the first Presidential election, with selection of presidential electors in the states to be held on January 7, 1789, and February 4, 1789 as the day electors would cast their ballots.

The first two women to enter the Georgia General Assembly, Viola Ross Napier of Bibb County and Atlanta Constitution reporter Bessie Kempton of Fulton County, were elected on September 13, 1922.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp is talking with other Governors on how to oppose President Biden’s COVID mandates, according to Fox5Atlanta.Continue Reading..