The blog.

2
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 2, 2021

Harvey is a young male mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, GA.

Rosie is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, GA.

Dolly is a young female mixed breed dog who is available for adoption from the Etowah Valley Humane Society in Cartersville, GA.

2
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 2, 2021

Congress created the United States Treasury Department on September 2, 1789.

With the ratification of the Constitution in 1789, the American government established a permanent Treasury Department in hopes of controlling the nation’s debt. President George Washington named his former aide-de-camp, Alexander Hamilton, to head the new office. The former New York lawyer and staunch Federalist stepped in as Secretary of the Treasury on September 11. Hamilton soon outlined a practical plan for reviving the nation’s ailing economy: the government would pay back its $75 million war debt and thus repair its badly damaged public credit.

Atlanta Mayor James Calhoun surrendered the city to federal forces on September 2, 1864.

Calhoun’s two-sentence letter, directed to Brig.-Gen. William Ward stated: “Sir: The fortune of war has placed Atlanta in your hands. As mayor of the city I ask protection of non-combatants and private property.”

The cornerstone of the Georgia State Capitol was laid on September 2, 1885.

Japan surrendered to the United States on the deck of USS Missouri on September 2, 1945.

On Sunday, September 2, more than 250 Allied warships lay at anchor in Tokyo Bay. The flags of the United States, Britain, the Soviet Union, and China fluttered above the deck of the Missouri. Just after 9 a.m. Tokyo time, Japanese Foreign Minister Mamoru Shigemitsu signed on behalf of the Japanese government. General Yoshijiro Umezu then signed for the Japanese armed forces, and his aides wept as he made his signature.

Supreme Commander MacArthur next signed, declaring, “It is my earnest hope and indeed the hope of all mankind that from this solemn occasion a better world shall emerge out of the blood and carnage of the past.” Nine more signatures were made, by the United States, China, Britain, the USSR, Australia, Canada, France, the Netherlands and New Zealand, respectively. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz signed for the United States. As the 20-minute ceremony ended, the sun burst through low-hanging clouds. The most devastating war in human history was over.

Author John Ronald Reuel Tolkien died on September 2, 1973.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Democrats, fresh off a Victory Tour, demanded Governor Kemp overstep his Constitutional powers. From Fox5Atlanta:Continue Reading..

1
Sep

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 1, 2021

Jazzy is a 16-18 week old female short-haired Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Jennifers Pet Rescue Inc. in Dallas, GA.

Jazzy is fully vetted and great with everyone she meets.

Bryce is a 16-18 week old male short-haired Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Jennifers Pet Rescue Inc. in Dallas, GA.

Bryce is fully vetted and great with everyone he meets.

Kenzo is a one-year old male Chesapeake Bay Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Jennifers Pet Rescue Inc. in Dallas, GA.

Kenzo is a bundle of energy and am absolute sweetheart! He needs a home where he can get the training he needs. A fenced in yard is a must for his boy that loves to play! He also loves to go for rides, hikes and swims. He is already leash trained and housebroken.

If you ask me, I think he looks more like a wire-haired pointer of some sort.

1
Sep

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 1, 2021

Former Vice President Aaron Burr was acquitted of treason on September 1, 1804.

On September 1, 1865, Confederate Lieutenant General John Bell Hood withdrew his troops from Atlanta, destroying supply depots and setting ablaze 81 railcars loaded with ammunition.

The last hanging in Atlanta took place on September 1, 1922 outside the Fulton County jail.

Approximately 5,000 people gathered outside the Fulton County jail to witness the hanging.

On September 1, 2004, United States Senator Zell Miller, a Democrat, spoke at the Republican National Convention.

Robins Air Force Base is celebrating the 80th anniversary of groundbreaking, according to 13WMAZ.

In 1941, the Department of Defense wanted to build a new maintenance depot in the southeast. After lobbying by local, state and congressional leaders, the site that is now Robins Air Force Base got selected.

It was mainly farmland at the time. Macon and Bibb County bought the first 3,100 acres from several dozen families and donated it to the Army Air Forces.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Glynn County Commissioners will consider an alcohol ban for the Georgia-Florida game weekend, according to The Brunswick News.Continue Reading..

31
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 31, 2021

The Atlanta Humane Society is working to support the evacuation of pets from areas being hit by Hurricane Ida, according to WSB-TV.

The Atlanta Humane Society’s Disaster Response Team picked up 31 dogs and 20 cats from areas along the Gulf Coast and sent them their way to Atlanta on Saturday.

The team traveled to Gulfport, Mississippi and New Orleans ahead of Hurricane Ida on Friday to pick up the dogs and cats. They visited the Humane Society of South Mississippi and Louisiana SPCA. Both are expected to be on the receiving end of Ida’s strong winds and rains.

12 of the dogs are heading out to the Hilton Head Humane Society in South Carolina.

“Our Disaster Response Team worked diligently with our shelter partners throughout the Southeast to ensure that as many animals as possible were moved out of harm’s way ahead of Hurricane Ida’s landfall,” said Amanda Harris with the Atlanta Humane Society. “All 39 animals remaining in Atlanta will be medically evaluated on Sunday and Monday. Once they are all healthy and have received the care they need, they will be available for adoption. Our thoughts are with the residents of the gulf coast area during this time.”

Kaiya is a 6-year old, 62-pound female Hound mix who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Atlanta, GA.

Hi I’m Kaiya! I enjoy nice long slow walks. I’m fairly low-energy, so I’d love to curl up beside you for a Netflix marathon! I love to be petted and touched, so you can pet me any time… I may even ask to be petted. I don’t have much known history with dogs, cats, or kids, but would love to meet your current dog or children to see if we’d get along. Do you think I might be the perfect match for you? I sure hope so. Love, Kaiya.

Kaiya’s temperament sounds so much like that of my own Hound mix, Dolly. They’re lovely dogs.

Elena is a young 28-pound female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Atlanta, GA.

Kevin is a 5-year old, 75-pound male Shepherd mix who is available for adoption from the Atlanta Humane Society in Atlanta, GA.

Hi I’m Kevin! I am new here to the shelter and I am still getting use to interacting with staff here so please take it slow with me. Since I am so shy, I would do best in a quiet without small kids, I tend to frighten and get startled really easy. I need a family who is patient and willing to give me a try at a brand new life and lifestyle so I can be the best dog and best companion I can be!

31
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 31, 2021

On August 31, 1864, Confederates charged Union forces at the Battle of Jonesboro, in which the CSA suffered more than 1400 casualties in one hour.

On August 31, 1955, the first solar powered car was demonstrated by William Cobb of General Motors.

On August 31, 1965, the U.S. House of Representatives passed legislation creating the Department of Housing and Urban Development, which the Senate had previously passed.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

From 13WMAZ:

Governor Brian Kemp and state officials gave an update on COVID-19 in Georgia on Monday afternoon.

In it, he detailed his latest executive order that he signed earlier in the day.

It calls up 1,500 additional Georgia National Guard troops to help with the state’s COVID-19 response. That raises the total statewide up to 2,500 troops helping hospitals and other healthcare groups.

The order also continues the suspension of federal rules and regulations for operators of commercial vehicles to ensure an ‘uninterrupted supply of healthcare supplies.’

Kemp also encouraged Georgians on the fence about being vaccinated to speak with their healthcare providers.

Georgia Department of Public Health commissioner, Dr. Kathleen Toomey, spoke next and said the state is behind with the Delta surge.

“We are now approaching among the worst cases in both case numbers and hospitalizations we’ve had since January — in some cases actually worse in some parts of the state than we were in January,” said Toomey.

She says a significant number of those cases are school-age children and they’ve quadrupled in the last few weeks, with the sharpest increase being in the 11-17 age group.

“Children can transmit the virus and they are becoming infected. Fortunately not as many are becoming hospitalized,” said Toomey.

From GPB News:

Gov. Brian Kemp on Monday may have, perhaps, made his most direct plea for Georgians to get a COVID-19 vaccine.

“I mean, the numbers do not lie; 95% of the people in the hospital with COVID-19 have not been vaccinated,” Kemp told reporters during a news conference. “And I would urge you to do that. That is what we need to unite and focus on instead of having, you know, different mandates and all that.”

Now, Kemp told Georgians again that, “Vaccination is our tool to get us out of this pandemic.”

“This is America; and this is Georgia,” Kemp said. “And you can do that, but the fact is you’re going to remain at risk of being in the hospital with COVID-19. And (the unvaccinated) run the risk of being on a ventilator. You run the risk of being on a ventilator for two or three weeks and then dying. And that is the decision that everyone’s going to have to make.”

Continue Reading..

30
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 20, 2021

The Friends of Perry Animal Shelter group  says they’re inundated with calls from people seeking to surrender their pets, according to 13WMAZ.

Friends Of The Perry Animal Shelter (FOPAS) has more animals than they can handle. The group posted on Facebook saying adoptions are low, but the number of animals is at an all-time high.

This weekend they received more than 50 calls of people wanting to surrender their animals.

“Unfortunately, yes. I have to say ‘Friends of Perry Animal Shelter is full at this time, I’m sorry.’ And then they ask for other rescues and shelters and I give them as many as I can think of, but unfortunately they’re full too,” said [Assistant Director Amanda] Johnson.

“Our animal control is busting full right now. I think she is right at capacity. We have not been able to pull from them in the last two or three weeks because we’ve had so many here,” said [Director Lynne] Gibbs.

“It’s just overwhelming how many people have called. It is really upsetting to listen to those people plead for help for those animals. And there’s nothing I can do about it,” said Johnson.

Duke is a 7-year old, 59-pound male Labrador Retriever and Basset Hound mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

Cole is a year-old, 26-pound male Hound and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

Boomer is a three-year old, 60-pound male Labrador Retriever and American Bulldog mix who is available for adoption from Friends of Perry Animal Shelter in Perry, GA.

30
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 30, 2021

On August 30, 1888, Asa Griggs Candler bought one-third interest in the Coca-Cola company, bringing his total ownership to more than two-thirds of the company.

Georgia native Ty Cobb debuted with the Detroit Tigers on August 30, 1905.

On August 30, 1979, President Jimmy Carter reported being attacked by a rabbit near Plains, Georgia. Here’s an interview in which President Carter was asked about the rabbit incident.

Atlanta Mayor Bill Campbell was indicted on August 30, 2004 on racketeering, bribery and wire fraud charges and would later plead guilty to tax evasion.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Georgia Dove Season opens September 4th, according to the Albany Herald.Continue Reading..

27
Aug

Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for August 27, 2021

Marty is a 3-year old, 65-pound male Redbone Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue, Inc. who is fostering him in a private home near Athens, GA.

Marty is a gorgeous 3 year old Redbone coonhound boy waiting in Athens, Georgia for a new home. He weighs 65 ponds and is friendly, curious, and sociable. He gets along well with dogs of all sizes. He is working on his manners and he is fairly easy to redirect. Marty settles beautifully in his crate and is unobtrusive once given his own comfy spot. He will give a few barks of excitement but is generally quiet and even-tempered. He is learning his basic commands and seems to be reliably housetrained. Marty will thrive with regular exercise and lots of human and doggie playmates. He could also do fine as a solo dog. He is catching on to leash manners quickly and really aims to please.

Olivia’s Baked Goods is a 1.5 month old, female Black and Tan Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue, Inc. who is fostering her in a private home in Tybee Island, GA.

Born on July 9th, this litter of Black and Tan pups is full of sugar and spice and everything nice, finished with a little bit of frosting on a toe or two! They have been well-socialized with people and other dogs and are healthy, happy pups. They are being fostered near Savannah and will be ready to leave for new homes at the end of the August.

Max is a 5-month old, 30-pound male Redbone Coonhound mix puppy (he’ll get bigger) who is available for adoption from the American Black and Tan Coonhound Rescue, Inc. who is fostering him in a private home in Ranger, GA.

Max is crate-trained and happy being in a crate to eat, sleep and relax. He is very food motivated. Initially a bit cautious around adult dogs, he warms up quickly. Max is being fostered in northwest Georgia. Max weighs about 30 lbs, loves toys and will play tug and fetch with a ball. He is independent and very social; he would be happy with other dogs in the house or as a solo dog. Max is a quick learner and is working on sit, down, wait, and settle.

27
Aug

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for August 27, 2021

General Robert E. Lee’s Confederates met General John Pope’s federal forces at the Second Battle of Manassas on August 29, 1862.

Union General William T. Sherman’s forces tore up 12 miles of railroad between Red Oak and Fairburn on August 29, 1864.

August 28, 1929 saw Governor Lamartine Hardman sign a Constitutional Amendment authorizing the levy of a state income tax.

Advertising in the rights of way of state roads and placing signs on private property without the owner’s approval were prohibited in the first Georgia law regulating outdoor advertising, which was signed by Governor Richard Russell on August 27, 1931. Over the years, both practices would become enshrined in Peach State political strategy.

The United States Air Force Academy moved to its permanent home in Colorado Springs on August 29, 1958.

On August 28, 1963, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. delivered the “I Have a Dream Speech” on the Mall in Washington, DC.

The Beatles played their final concert at San Francisco’s Candlestick Park on August 29, 1966.

On August 29, 1971, Hank Aaron broke the National League record for most seasons with 100 or more RBI, as he drove in his 100th run to make 11 seasons hitting that mark.

An obscure college professor named Newt Gingrich began his political career on August 28, 1974, as he kicked off his first campaign against Congressman Jack Flynt.

Old Newt Pic

Former Georgia Governor Lester Maddox was nominated for President on the American Independent Party ticket on August 27, 1976, making the race probably the only one to ever feature two former Georgia governors. During the campaign, Maddox described Jimmy Carter as “the most dishonest man I ever met.”

On August 29, 1977, Lou Brock stole his 893d base, to surpass the record set by Georgia-born Ty Cobb.

On August 27, 1982, Oakland Athletics outfielder Rickey Henderson broke the record for stolen bases in a season, nabbing number 119 against the Milwaukee Brewers and breaking the record held by Lou Brock.

Georgia Governor Zell Miller addressed the Democratic National Convention on August 27, 1996. In 2004, Miller would address the Republican National Convention, likely becoming the first Georgian to address both major parties’ national conventions. Congressman John Lewis and Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney also addressed the ’96 DNC. That day, President Bill Clinton signed a Welfare Reform bill, called the Personal Responsibility and Work Opportunity Reconciliation Act of 1996.

On August 27, 2008, Barack Obama became the Presidential nominee of the Democratic Party, the first African-American nominee of a major United States political party.

On August 28, 2008, the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools revoked the accreditation of the Clayton County Public Schools. Later that day, Governor Sonny Perdue removed four members of the Clayton County Board of Education upon the recommendation of an administrative law judge.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Piedmont Newnan Hospital is asking for National Guard members to be assigned to assist in dealing with the current COVID surge, according to 11Alive.

The hospital said in a statement that it made a formal request for assistance to Gov. Brian Kemp. The hospital’s chief medical officer, Dr. Robert Miller, told 11Alive Thursday evening that the request has been granted.

“We are at 128 percent of our capacity and the only thing that is preventing us from expanding anymore is truly a lack of nurses,” he said. “We really need medics to help triage the people in the emergency room to help start IVs, check vital signs. We are backed out into the waiting room of our emergency room.”

Earlier this week, the governor said he was deploying 105 National Guard personnel throughout the state to assist hospitals under the strain of the current COVID surge.

“The hospital has asked to receive combat medics, who can assist with the high numbers of COVID-19 patients, largely unvaccinated and requiring a higher level of care,” the hospital’s statement said. ”Piedmont welcomes and appreciates the support of the Georgia National Guard so that its facilities can continue to provide safe, patient-centered care to the community.”

The hospital added that they are seeing more hospitalizations and deaths among the 18-39 age demographic than in previous surges.

Governor Brian Kemp spoke to the University of Georgia College Republicans, according to The Red & Black.

Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp visited the University of Georgia Wednesday evening, discussing the pandemic, state election integrity and national issues to a group of around 100 attendees, hosted by the UGA College Republicans.

After thanking the group for supporting him, Kemp reflected on the challenges Georgians have faced over the last year with COVID-19 but also defended fully reopening the state. Kemp issued a shelter-in-place mandate in early April 2020, but also began reopening certain establishments less than a month later.

“We’ve been very resilient as a people in a lot of ways, fighting COVID, but also reopening our economy, when many around the country were heckling us and calling it a death experiment,” Kemp said.

Kemp said he has been consulting with other members of the state government, such as Adjutant General Thomas Carden and DPH Commissioner Kathleen Toomey, to determine how the state can do more to fight the disease. Tuesday, Kemp sent 105 National Guard members with medical training to hospitals around the state to assist health care workers as the pandemic overwhelms them.

When discussing election security, Kemp touted the Election Integrity Act of 2021, which he said makes it “easy to vote but hard to cheat” in Georgia.

“We had a lot of things that happened mechanically in the election that we needed to address,” Kemp said. “We had a lot of people that had lost confidence in the election process last year … so it was time for us to put all these things to bed … and that’s what we did.”

When an audience member asked Kemp if he believed that President Joe Biden won a fair and honest election, Kemp replied, “I believe Joe Biden is the president of the United States. The election got certified. There’s nothing anybody can do about that.”

Governor Kemp also spoke at Lockheed in Marietta, according to WABE.

Earlier this year, state lawmakers passed and the Republican governor signed a law that would expand the tax breaks available to “high-impact aerospace defense” projects in hopes of aiding a bid for new defense projects at the Marietta plant operated by Lockheed Martin Corp.

Kemp said future Lockheed projects could add as many as 3,000 jobs and $1.6 billion in investment.

The law allows Lockheed Martin to claim up to $100 million in state income tax credits against investments, as long as it invests at least $800 million, as well as to claim Georgia’s job tax credits for any new jobs it creates. Before Kemp signed the law, Lockheed would have been limited to either $50 million in investment tax credits or the job tax credits.

“It helps us to compete to win those contracts and the economic impact that comes back and the residuals that you get off of that, with other manufacturing and residual jobs, is just incredible,” Kemp told reporters afterward.

Georgia Secretary of State Brad Raffensperger is seeking a court order , according to the AJC.

The secretary of state’s office confirmed this week that it is seeking court orders to retrieve absentee ballot envelopes in at least 17 counties. Other counties have disclosed election materials without requiring a judge’s approval.

The absentee ballot envelopes will be used for a statewide study evaluating the effectiveness of the signature verification process, which compared voters’ signatures to verify their identities. The Georgia General Assembly has since eliminated signature verification, replacing it with new ID requirements.

Though election officials no longer use signature matching for absentee ballots, the study will evaluate verification methods employed in November’s election, said Trey Hood, a University of Georgia political science professor hired by the secretary of state’s office to conduct the research.

“It’s not an audit. I don’t want anyone to get that idea in mind,” Hood said. “We’re not relitigating the 2020 election.”

The study will gather a random sample of 5,000 absentee ballot envelopes from across the state, then train students to verify them using the same comparison practices as election officials, Hood said.

State Senator Burt Jones (R-Jackson) held a fundraiser for his campaign to be the next Lieutenant Governor, according to the AJC.

AJC reporter Maya T. Prabhu drove down for the event, where about 800 people filled the Idlewild Event Center just miles away from Jones’ hometown of Jackson.

The kickoff also doubled as a fundraiser and campaign staff said they temporarily ran out of the pledge cards that attendees could fill out as they entered the celebration.

Framing himself as an underdog, he relayed stories of going from a walk-on football player at the University of Georgia to graduating on scholarship and as co-captain of the team and defeating an eight-year state Senate incumbent in the 2012 Republican primary.

Several fellow state senators showed up at the Butts County bash, which featured barbecue and live music, and Jones said he expected the Republican caucus to split in its support.

“I mean there’ll be some with me and some with, you know, other folks, and that’s fine,” Jones said. “It is what it is, with no hard feelings here. So we’ll just move on and then maybe get where we’ll all be on the same team at the end of the day.”

Former U.S. Sen. David Perdue headlined the Jones’ event.

“Burt loves his country, he loves his family, he loves God,” Perdue said as he brought Jones up to the stage. “This is a godly man, a business guy, he’s an outsider to the big political structure in Washington and somebody that we can trust.”

But Perdue also headlined Miller’s campaign kickoff in Gainesville earlier this summer. When asked, Perdue declined to say if his appearance at Jones’ event was an endorsement.

The Georgia Board of Education approved new standards for math, according to the Capitol Beat News Service via the Albany Herald.

The Georgia Board of Education adopted new mathematics standards Thursday that move away from the multistate Common Core standards conservatives have opposed as a federal takeover of education.

The new K-12 standards were developed with input from Georgia teachers, school administrators, parents, students and business leaders. They will take a full year to implement, with the new school year dedicated to retraining math teachers.

“To ensure every Georgian is given the opportunity to learn, grow and succeed, [State School] Superintendent [Richard] Woods, the state school board and I are committed to developing quality academic standards,” Gov. Brian Kemp said Thursday.

“I am confident the final math standards eliminate the remnants of Common Core, will provide an excellent education for our students and are based on an unprecedented level of collaboration from across the state.”

Gwinnett County Public Schools said supply chain issues may affect lunch service, according to the AJC.

Gwinnett County Public Schools is warning families that school meals might not reflect planned menus as nationwide shortages in food supply chains hit home.

“We will always offer delicious and quality meals to our students,” the district said. “We appreciate your patience and understanding as we navigate this scenario.”

Clayton County Schools also began limiting food options recently due to the supply chain disruption.

I would be surprised if any other single entity in Georgia serves more meals each day than the Gwinnett County school system

COVID restrictions from the City of Savannah led the Savannah Bananas to cancel the rest of their season, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Bananas exhibition games are canceled against the Macon Bacon on Saturday, Aug. 28, to conclude the Breakfast Bowl Series, and on Saturday, Oct. 2, for a matchup between the Bananas and the Party Animals in the Banana Ball Beer Fest.

Team president Jared Orton said Thursday that the franchise had conversations with city officials following Savannah Mayor Van Johnson’s announcement Tuesday of a moratorium on issuing permits for events in public spaces and revoking permits for events planned through Sept. 30. These orders were among the restrictions issued as COVID-19 cases and hospitalizations continue to surge across Chatham County. The city already had reinstated its mask mandate.

Orton said the decision was made to cancel the game Saturday, and the next “Banana Ball” game, with a special format and rules, in October.

“As we were talking to the city, it doesn’t seem that much is going to change in the next couple of weeks that would give us an opportunity to get that (October) game going,” Orton said. “Instead of trying to push through with it and hope things turn around very quickly, and then disappoint more fans, I think it was best put a halt to it before it got too far down the tracks.”

Rising gang violence across the Southeast is hitting Georgia, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Areas like the central Georgia, in the Milledgeville corridor, and southwest Georgia, the Albany area, are just some of the pockets of Georgia that are starting to see more and more gang-related crimes, according GBI Director Vic Reynolds, who oversees Georgia Bureau of Investigation’s two-year-old Gang Task Force.

“It’s not just in city environments. It’s in rural areas as well. I’ve had sheriffs in deep southwest Georgia needing assistance…Valdosta…Coffee County,” Reynolds explained, noting that the driving force behind most gangs is to make money, typically by way of robbery, and drug, human and labor trafficking. “I don’t know a generalized area in Georgia that we haven’t seen any form of gang activity.”

According to GBI data, during FY 2020, the GBI, through either the gang task force or regional offices, was involved in 343 gang related or gang motivated investigations, and 541 gang related or gang motivated investigations in FY 2021, which ended June 30. The investigations involved close to 70 separate criminal street gangs, including the Gangster Disciples, Bloods, Crips, Ghostface Gangsters, Aryan Brotherhood and MS-13, according to the GBI.

Lowndes County Sheriff Ashley Paulk in south Georgia said gang activity became a real issue the county during the late 90s and has seen an increase in involvements with murder, robberies and thefts in recent years.

“Most all of the shootings and homicides and major crimes we have are gang related and drug related at the same time,” Paulk said. “In our jail where we have roughly 650 inmates, we have to be very cognizant of the fact that we have the gangs, and we have to segregate them or otherwise we would have more problems in our jail.”

Baldwin County Sheriff’s Office Major Brad King said the Milledgeville, Georgia area has seen much of its violent crime include gang-related drive-by shootings over the last four years, in addition to other gun and narcotics crimes.

Valdosta set an all-time record for low unemployment in July, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

In July, Valdosta saw its all-time lowest unemployment level, the Georgia Department of Labor said Thursday.

In Valdosta in July, the unemployment rate was down one and six-tenths percentage points to 3% over the month, an all-time high for the area, according to a statement from the labor department. A year ago, the rate was 7.3%.

“We are seeing positive labor market data across the state. The unemployment rate is down in every region, county, and metropolitan statistical area, reflecting the strength of our state’s economy,” Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler said in a statement.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Improving Access to Healthy Foods and Ending Food Deserts met in Augusta, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The committee, created by legislation introduced by State Senator Harold Jones II of Augusta is trying to explore state policies that can help reduce food insecurity. Food deserts are defined by the United States Department of Agriculture as low income areas without a grocery store within a mile in urban areas or ten miles in rural areas. These cross Augusta and parts of metro Atlanta as well as dotting rural areas.

The two other Senators at the hearing – Sens. Russ Goodman and Billy Hickman – are both from rural districts, but shared similar concerns about the distance and difficulties their constituents face in reaching grocery stores.

Kathy Kuzava, president of the Georgia Food Industry Association, which lobbies for grocery stores in the state, laid out some of economics of the industry. She said grocery stores may have a hard time turning a profit, even if politicians and residents want one.

“Supermarket industry, as a whole, now this is pre-pandemic, averages about 1 percent profit margin,” Kuzava told the legislators. “For someone who doesn’t know what they’re doing in the industry, it is a very, very hard business to be in.”

Kuzava said that politicians could help new grocery stores by streamlining permitting processes, easing access for stores to become WIC certified, and creating programs for workforce development and nutritional education.

United States Senator Jon Ossoff (D-Atlanta) spoke about federal infrastructure funds that could come to middle Georgia, according to the Macon Telegraph.

A masked Sen. Jon Ossoff climbed aboard a new electric Macon Transit Authority bus Tuesday evening with local officials, gripping rubber handholds as he discussed millions of potential federal infrastructure dollars earmarked for Bibb County.

The money would pay for more electric buses and other infrastructure needs, as determined by Macon-Bibb County leaders, Ossoff said. The $16 million, delivered over the next five years, is part of a $1 trillion infrastructure bill passed by the Senate earlier this month that still needs House approval.

“This money is for public transportation in Macon-Bibb County, for the MTA here and local elected officials to use as they see fit in consultation with the community to improve access and mobility for all people in the community,” Ossoff said. “Resources to expand, transit, transportation and mobility… It’s a win-win for this community and communities across the state.”

Eight candidates qualified for Mayor of Brunswick, according to The Brunswick News.

City commissioner Vincent Williams will not seek another four-year term representing the North Ward. He is among eight people who qualified to seek the mayor’s seat currently held by Cornell Harvey, who cannot run again because of term limits.

Other challengers in the mayor’s race are Ann M. Senior, Cosby Johnson, Helen Rachel Ladson, Ivan D. Figuroa, John D. Perry II, Robbie Tucker and Travis Slim Riddle.

Four candidates qualified to seek the North Ward city commission seat held by Williams. Earnest Peewee Culbreath, Gary B. Cook, Sr., Kendra Leola Rolle and Neil R. Foster will face each other for the seat.

In both contested races, if one person doesn’t get more than 50 percent of the vote in the general election, the top two vote getters will face each other in a runoff on Nov. 30.

Tybee Island City Council passed a moratorium on new short term rental registrations, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Tybee Island City Council voted Thursday to approve a short-term vacation rental (STVR) moratorium that will restrict owners from registering their property as an STVR for 90 days. The moratorium, which passed 3 to 2, marks a major step in a long discussion about regulating STVRs on the island.

The transfer of an STVR permit from the original property owner to a new owner will be allowed during the period.

New owners acquiring an unpermitted property will not be able to register as an STVR during the moratorium. An earlier version of the resolution allowed such registration, but that language was struck out of the measure approved Thursday.

Savannah City Council passed an amendment to the yearly budget to provide a 3% pay raise for more than 2000 employees, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Mayor Van Johnson said council’s recent vote to maintain the current millage rate helped the city to move forward with the cost-of-living increase.

“The council agreed to maintain the current millage rate that will give us the funds that we will need to be able to ensure we’re able to give a cost-of-living increase that is deserved to our employees,” Johnson said.

Statesboro City Council will hold three public meetings ahead of voting to retain the property tax millage rate, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Statesboro City Council will hold a series of three “tax increase” hearings on the next two Tuesdays because the city government proposes to keep a 2.2% rise in property tax revenue that resulted from inflation in assessed values.

The city is not increasing the rate, which is proposed to remain at 7.308 mills for the fifth year in a row. But under the state law known as the Property Taxpayers Bill of Rights, a local governing board must roll its millage back to compensate for inflation in property values or announce a tax increase and hold three hearings.

A mill is $1 tax on each $1,000 assessed value, and property in Georgia is generally assessed at 40% of “fair market value.”

Statesboro’s rollback rate, to avoid the tax increase hearings, would have been 7.151 mills, or 0.157 mills less than the current and proposed rate.

Lilburn will join the surveillance state that eventually leads to SkyNet, by installing new safety cameras. From the Gwinnett Daily Post:

The city has installed Flock Safety cameras that use automatic license plate recognition technology at key locations around the city to help deter crime. The cameras record license plates of vehicles that pass by them, and images from that video is uploaded and stored in a secure cloud for 30 days.

“This tag information is incredibly valuable in solving crimes by providing vehicle location at the investigator’s fingertips,” Capt. Scott H. Bennett said. “Important points of ingress and egress around the city are already covered by the cameras, which have been funded by fines generated from the RedSpeed school zone safety cameras.”

Lilburn’s announcement about the installation of the cameras in its city limits comes on the heels of the Gwinnett Place Community Improvement District’s recent announcement that it was working with Gwinnett County police to expand the number of Flock Safety cameras used around that CID.

School Closures

Here’s my ongoing tally of schools and systems that have closed or delayed the restart of school due to COVID. I count 44 school systems that have had significant interruptions in classes, nearly 1 in 4 of Georgia’s 180 school districts.

Crisp County (High School only at this time)

Macon County

Talbot County

Randolph County

Glascock County

Taliaferro County

Evans County

Echols County

Ben Hill County

Long County

Ware County (11 schools)

Burke County

Clayton County – at least nine schools

Cobb County – East Side Elementary Fifth Grade temporarily closed

Lee County

Troup County – three schools

Johnson County

Screven County

McIntosh County

Jeff Davis County – going to alternating days A/B/ schedule

Turner County

Telfair County

Clay County

Dade County

Emanuel County – A/B schedule

Cook County

Jenkins County

Warren County

Richmond County – Belair K-8 School temporarily virtual

McDuffie County – Thomson-McDuffie Middle School

Liberty County

Henry County – at least six schools

Bryan County – Closed September 3d for cleaning

Berrien County

Glynn County

Lamar County

Bibb County – Ingram-Pye Elementary and Westside High

Catoosa County – closed one week, then hybrid for two weeks

Dade County – some virtual, some hybrid

Walker County – hybrid schedule two weeks

Paulding County – Shelton Elementary

Jackson County – Jackson County High School and East Jackson Comprehensive High School

Pike County

Jasper County

Meanwhile, some Columbia County parents took to the streets in protesting mask mandates, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Before the sun could set on its first day of enforcement, Columbia County’s mask mandate was being protested.

More than 50 men, women and children met outside the board of education’s office on Hereford Farm Road in Evans to line both sides of the street and urge supporters to honk for their cause. Hand-made and professionally printed signs were sprinkled through the crowd, with messages like “This is Child Abuse” and “Stop Covid Close the Border” and “Tyranny BOE Complicit with Nazi/Communism.”

“It basically comes down to parents’ choice,” [organizer Joe Turner] said. “If you wanna wear a mask, you wear a mask. If we don’t wanna wear a mask, we shouldn’t have to, and it shouldn’t be enforced.”

Superintendent Steven Flynt announced the mask mandate during Tuesday’s board of education meeting. Face coverings are required for all students and staff in all grade levels, regardless of vaccination status. Individuals may be exempted from the mandate if they have a documented medical condition of why they cannot wear a face covering or an Individualized Education Plan that prohibits one.

In LaGrange, protesters criticized mask mandates and vaccine mandates, according to WTVM.

People in the community gathering downtown holding signs and marching to protest masks and vaccines mandates in workplaces. Protesters feeling as if they have a right to make their own choice when it comes to their health. Some previous retirement home workers attending this event say they have been pushed out for saying no to the vaccine.

An army mom protesting for her son serving in the military who has been mandated to take the vaccine says she feels as if they are taking away her rights which is what her son is fighting for.

“We just want to have freedom of choice you know it’s not about vaccinated or unvaccinated to me my choice i choose to live a natural life,” said protester, Denise Stewart.