The blog.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 10, 2019

Cricket Glynn

Cricket is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Control in Brunswick, GA.

Danny Glynn

Danny is a young female Shepherd and Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Control in Brunswick, GA.

Smores Glynn

Smores is a female Plott Hound mix who is available for adoption from Glynn County Animal Control in Brunswick, GA.

The Brunswick News covers the evacuation by Glynn County Animal Control ahead of Hurricane Dorian.

Evacuating more than 100 pets from Glynn County Animal Control’s shelter on U.S. Highway 17 to the Okefenokee Fairgrounds in Waycross wouldn’t have been easy for veteran staff, but the shelter’s relatively green crew got it done.

With Hurricane Dorian nearing the Golden Isles, animal control evacuated last Monday, Sept. 2, and came back on Thursday.

“The animals were back on Thursday, but we wanted to leave the place clean. We also had to send people back to start answering calls for service. The cleaning ended up taking into the evening Thursday and the middle of the day Friday,” Hill said. “… We’re still unpacking some of the trailers and getting the supplies reorganized and mounds and mounds of laundry caught up on.”

All the animals had to be held in individual collapsible kennels for the duration of the evacuation, Hill said, which made cleaning difficult, and the temporary shelter had to be staffed constantly meaning long shifts for everyone.

Two rescue groups — Good Mews of Atlanta and McKamey Animal Center in Chattanooga — made the whole process a lot easier by taking more than 100 pets off the shelter’s hands before the evacuation even began.

Another rescue group picked up more dogs while they were taking shelter in Waycross.

“Thirteen more dogs went out. One of our staff rode to Tifton and met with a driver from Animal Ark, from Columbus, Ga., and they took 13 more dogs,” Hill said.

“All told, because of the hurricane, we had a total of 103 animals leave permanently into the care of other rescue groups. Which is wonderful, but it certainly doesn’t mean we had a lot of space. I think on our first day back, on Thursday, 10 more animals came in.”


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 10, 2019

An American fleet of nine ships under the command of Captain Oliver Hazard Perry routed a British fleet in the Battle of Lake Erie on September 10, 1813.

After the battle, Perry sent a famous dispatch to U.S. General William Henry Harrison that read, “We have met the enemy, and they are ours.” The Battle of Lake Erie forced the British to abandon Detroit, ensuring U.S. control over Lake Erie and the territorial northwest.

Years later, Pogo, Georgia’s Official State Possum, would paraphrase Perry’s dispatch.

Pogo Enemy

And eventually, Pogo’s statement that, “We have met the enemy and he is us” would become the official slogan of the Georgia Republican Party.

On September 10, 1991, Senate confirmation hearings began for Georgia-born Clarence Thomas, who was appointed by President George H.W. Bush (41) to the United States Supreme Court.

Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit was released as a single on September 10, 1991.

On September 10, 2002, the Atlanta Braves clinched an eleventh straight division title without playing, as a loss by the Philadelphia Phillies assured the Braves the title.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp issued a Writ of Election for a Special Election on November 5, 2019 in House District 152, to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of State Rep. Ed Rynders.

Governor Kemp told the AJC he’s in no rush to appoint a new United States Senator to take the seat being vacated by Sen. Isakson.

The governor told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution that his administration is “starting to figure out how we’re going to conduct the process” after a busy week that included a state scramble to respond to Hurricane Dorian.

“There’s no timeline. I have a lot of good options,” he said. “There’s a lot of different ways we can go. I want to be very thoughtful and diligent in the process.”

Kemp must also factor into the mix a potential 2021 election sandwiched between the two votes. Since the race for Isakson’s seat is a “jungle” special election with no party primaries to decide nominees, a January 2021 runoff would be needed if no candidate gets a majority of the vote.

Democrat Jon Ossoff announced this morning he will run for the United State Senate seat curently held by Sen. David Perdue. From Politico:

Ossoff, 32, became a political sensation during his run for Georgia’s 6th Congressional District in 2017, one in a series of special elections that attracted wide notice amid backlash to President Donald Trump before Democrats took the House majority in the midterm election.

“Georgia is the most competitive state in the country and the Senate majority will be decided in Georgia,” Ossoff said in an interview.

“Failed congressional candidate Jon Ossoff’s serial resume inflation and extreme left-wing views will fit in with the rest of the crowded Democratic primary but will stand in sharp contrast to David Perdue’s positive record of delivering results for all of Georgia,” said Nathan Brand, a spokesman for the National Republican Senatorial Committee.

“What I learned having been through the fire is that I will not ever be intimidated from telling my own story and touting my own accomplishments by inevitable partisan smears,” Ossoff said.

He said he remains friends with and is in regular contact with Stacey Abrams, the party’s nominee for governor in 2018 who passed on running for Senate. Abrams is likely to remain neutral in the primary, and Ossoff declined to discuss private conversations with her.

But Ossoff does have powerful backing: Rep. John Lewis, the civil rights icon and longtime Georgia congressman, supports his Senate bid. Ossoff said in the interview he was “honored” to have the endorsement, and plans to launch a voter registration effort with the congressman later this month.

In a statement, Lewis said he would do “everything in my power to support Jon’s election to the United States Senate.

“Jon’s 2017 campaign sparked a flame that is burning brighter than ever, in Georgia and across the country,” Lewis said. “Like the many thousands Jon has already organized and inspired, I am ready to work tirelessly to elect him.”

“David Perdue in half a decade has not come down from his private island to hold a single public town hall,” Ossoff said of the Republican senator. “We are going to raise a grassroots army unlike anything Georgia has seen to defeat him.”

From the AJC:

Former congressional candidate Jon Ossoff said he will challenge Republican U.S. Sen. David Perdue and “mount a ruthless assault on corruption in our political system” that’s prevented Congress from addressing urgent issues.

The Democrat told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution he would “raise a grassroots army unlike any this state has ever seen” by expanding the network of supporters who helped him raise roughly $30 million in a 2017 special election he narrowly lost.

“We have squandered trillions on endless war. We have squandered trillions on bailouts for failed banks. We have squandered trillions on tax cuts for wealthy donors. Then we’re told there’s nothing left over for the people,” he said, adding: “The corruption must be rooted out. And Sen. David Perdue is a caricature of Washington corruption.”

He said he chose to run against Perdue rather than compete for the soon-to-be-vacated seat held by U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, who is stepping down at year’s end for health reasons, because Perdue “is one of the least effective and most out-of-touch members of the U.S. Senate.”

“We’re in a state where one in three rural children live in poverty, where we have the worst maternal mortality in the entire country, and in a half a decade, this guy hasn’t come down from his private island to do a single town hall meeting,” Ossoff said. “He hands out favors to his donors. He runs errands for the president.”

“My candidacy was such a threat that Republicans at the highest level made my destruction their highest priority,” Ossoff said. “And I narrowly lost that race, but we built something special and enduring. And I’m still standing and ready to fight.”

“Right now, the job is to build the most potent grassroots organization the state has seen to defeat Sen. Perdue … Stacey Abrams’ campaign was historic. I have never seen a more talented politician in Georgia, and she’s an inspiration to me. When you push on the wheel of history, sometimes it takes time to get where you want to go. But one of the things I learned from my race in ’17 is a fight well fought – even if you lose it – can be worth what you build in the process. That’s how I look back on my race in 2017 and that’s certainly how I look at Stacey Abrams’ historic, extraordinary performance in 2018.”

“I support banning the sale of assault weapons to the general public – weapons that are derived from modern military technology should not be sold commercially absent some specific need … Nine out of 10 Americans support universal background checks, and the failure of Congress to support universal background checks is a textbook example of Washington corruption.”

Democrat Stacey Abrams said her party’s candidates should concentrate on “unlikely voters,” according to the Athens Banner Herald.

Abrams, who lost the Georgia governor’s race by 1.4 percentage points but set a state record for Democratic votes, made her case Monday in a letter and strategy memo obtained by The Associated Press and sent to top Democratic presidential candidates, national party committees and key strategists and groups on the left.

“Democrats, let’s do better and go big,” Abrams wrote, arguing that her historic bid to be the first black female governor in U.S. history wasn’t the sole driver of her near-win. “I am not the only candidate who can create a coalition and a strategy to win this state,” she wrote, adding that “any decision less than full investment in Georgia would amount to strategic malpractice” and arguing that her 2018 coalition of nonwhites and whites from the cities and suburbs is the blueprint “to compete in the changing landscape of the Sun Belt.”

The assertions from Abrams and her campaign manager, Lauren Groh-Wargo, highlight a fault line for Democrats. Some party leaders want to focus on flipping white voters who helped Trump flip Great Lakes states including Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio and Pennsylvania. Others want to drive turnout across Democrats’ growing base of minority voters and college-educated whites in the suburbs and cities, constituencies that could put states like Georgia, North Carolina and Arizona in play, while also helping in the Upper Midwest.

Groh-Wargo did not put a price tag on a 2020 campaign in Georgia, but noted the combined Democratic investment in Georgia last year was $42 million, compared to $70 million in Ohio and $32 million in Iowa, where Democrats lost statewide midterm races two years after Hillary Clinton lost to President Donald Trump by nearly double-digit margins.

Groh-Wargo wrote that Abrams was able to take advantage because the campaign spent time and money reaching Democratic-leaning residents who aren’t regular voters. With new registrations since 2018, Groh-Wargo put that number of such voters for 2020 at 1.7 million — more than six times the GOP’s typical advantage in Georgia and about 28 times larger than Abrams’ margin of defeat last year.

The universe of truly persuadable “swing voters” in Georgia, Groh-Wargo wrote, is about 150,000. Groh-Wargo said the campaign spent money targeting those voters, but not as much as in traditional campaigns that would have relied heavily on expensive television advertising in the Atlanta market.

“Democratic committees, consultants and the media do not factor unlikely voters into their polling, strategy and prognostications, effectively making their analyses by re-litigating the prior election as if nothing had changed in the electorate since,” she wrote.

The U.S. Department of Agriculture will begin accepting applications for federal aid to address last year’s Hurricane Michael, according to GPB News.

It took eight months for a federal aid package to pass, caught up in the government shutdown of early 2019, as well as a disagreement about how much funding should go to border security and to Puerto Rico, also recovering from hurricanes.

On Wednesday, the Department of Agriculture just announced, those farmers will be able to apply to receive some of the $3 billion aid package.

“U.S. agriculture has been dealt a hefty blow by extreme weather over the last several years, and 2019 is no exception,” Secretary of Agriculture and former Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue said in a statement.

“The scope of this year’s prevented planting alone is devastating, and although these disaster program benefits will not make producers whole, we hope the assistance will ease some of the financial strain farmers, ranchers and their families are experiencing,” he said.

All crew members from the M/V Golden Ray, which capsized off Saint Simons Island, have been rescued, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Three of the four crew members were extracted Monday before 3:30 p.m. and the fourth was rescued just before 6 p.m

The Coast Guard Sector Charleston was first notified by the Glynn County 911 dispatch around 2 a.m. Sunday, Sept. 8, that the M/V Golden Ray had capsized in the St. Simons Sound, according to a release from the Coast Guard. The vessel was leaving the Georgia Ports Authority Colonels Island Terminal just prior to the accident, GPA Executive Director Griff Lynch confirmed Sunday..

The first three crew members were rescued after USCG rescue and salvage teams drilled a hole measuring about two feet by three feet into the ship’s hull, Capt. John Reed, Commander of Coast Guard Sector Charleston, said.

The fourth crew member was stuck behind glass enclosed in an engineering control room in the ship’s stern. In a video posted on Twitter by the USCG Southeast the man can be seen climbing out of an opening as rescuers assist him.

The Golden Ray may remain in St Simons Sound for weeks, according to The Brunswick News.

The channel leading to the Port of Brunswick is closed and a Coast Guard spokesman said it’s uncertain how long it will take salvage crews to upright the vessel.

State Rep. Jeff Jones spoke at a public event on St. Simons Island on Monday, where he discussed the accident and when the channel will be cleared by salvage teams.

“This is going to be a unique kind of a challenge,” Jones said. “They sort of set themselves up for scenarios like this on how to handle situations like this, but they don’t yet know.”

The Coast Guard has currently closed the channel but Clayton said the Port of Brunswick remains open “with restrictions.”

Lowndes County will be one of six to pilot new voting machines, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

“Now, for the first time in 20 years when we have those close elections, we’ll be able to do a physical recount,” [Georgia Secretary of State Brad] Raffensperger said. “We’ll be able to mathematically prove that the winner really won and the loser really lost.”

The state approved buying 30,000 new machines in July for a cost of $107 million. For now, only six counties will be testing the machines. The rest of the state will switch to the new system by the 2020 presidential election.

Raffensperger said they decided against paper ballots because not everyone can use a paper ballot. The touch-screen will make it easy for every voter to fill out a ballot, he said.

Deb Cox, Lowndes County supervisor of elections, said she is excited for the new machines and is honored Lowndes County has been chosen as a pilot community.

“The system is phenomenal, and I think the voters are going to love it,” Cox said. “It’s amazing, high-tech and easy to use because it’s not connected to the internet in any way shape or form.”

“It’s the most secure system I’ve ever seen anywhere in the United States,” Cox said. “There is no way anyone can get into this system. It’s as secure as anything I’ve ever seen.”

The AJC reports on polling location closures in Georgia.

“In Georgia, we’re seeing a lot of rural counties close their polling places, leaving voters with only one polling place, which can create many hurdles if you have to drive many miles to vote,” said Leigh Chapman, a co-author of the report and the voting rights program director for The Leadership Conference Education Fund.

The AJC found that the 214 precinct closures in Georgia since 2012 often occurred in counties with high poverty rates and significant African American populations.

The only states to close more precincts than Georgia were Texas with 760 and Arizona with 320, according to the report.

County election officials said precinct closures saved taxpayers’ money that was being spent on low-turnout locations staffed by at least three poll workers. They said so many voters take advantage of early and absentee voting — 55% in last November’s election — that there’s no longer a need to have so many in-person polling places on Election Day.

“In our little county, we could struggle. If I could save the county money, that’s what I wanted to do,” said Warren County Elections Superintendent Janice Thigpen. “A lot of these precincts were created because we had farmers in the field and people who didn’t have transportation into town. That’s not the case anymore.”

The Muscogee County Board of Education is planning to place an E-SPLOST (Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax for Education) on the March 2020 ballot, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Muscogee County School District is planning to ask Columbus voters to renew the sales tax that helps pay for its capital projects.

And that question is expected to be on the March ballot — beating by seven months the sales tax referendum Columbus Council is planning for November.

As the Muscogee County School Board’s monthly work session ended Monday night, chairwoman Pat Hugley Green of District 1 asked her fellow board members whether there is a consensus for superintendent David Lewis to bring the board a recommendation to renew the five-year 1% Education Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (or, ESPLOST), which expires June 30.

But the superintendent made it clear: The March election is the best option, he said, because that’s the traditional time frame for the sales tax referendum.

Asked whether it benefits the school board to ask voters to renew the ESPLOST before the city council’s sales tax referendum in November 2020, Lewis said, “We don’t look at it one way or the other as an advantage. It’s just our routine process.”

Rome City Commission voted to add a “Brunch Bill” referendum to the November ballot, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Sunday brunch enthusiasts looking forward to having a mimosa or bloody mary before noon in Rome can now toast the Rome City Commission for unanimously agreeing Monday to allow voters to decide Nov. 5 whether local establishments can serve alcohol as early as 11 a.m. on Sundays.

As the law stands now, those who wish to imbibe must wait until 12:30 p.m. There were no public comments and very little discussion on the matter during the Commission’s regular meeting at City Hall.

Democrat Jordan Johnson will run for Augusta Commission District 1, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Jordan Johnson, the chairman of the Richmond County Democratic Party, announced Monday that he is running for the District 1 seat on the Augusta Commission.

Johnson joins former District 1 candidate Michael Thurman and downtown businesswoman Shawnda Griffin in the May 2020 election. Term limits prevent incumbent Bill Fennoy from seeking a third term.

Westside Elementary School in Valdosta will add agriculture education, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Georgia Sea Turtle Center moved back into its normal quarters after evacuating ahead of Hurricane Dorian, according to The Brunswick News.

“Starting a couple weeks ago, we knew that Hurricane Dorian was heading our way, and we prepared early for that,” said Katie Mascovich of the GSTC. “We started getting things together in case we needed to transport animals in the event of an evacuation.

“We actually released seven of our healthy sea turtle patients that were on the release track as it was, because we didn’t want to put them through the shock of evacuation, if we had to do that. You may notice we have some empty tanks here, and that is why, because we released about half of our patients.”

For the turtles staying, in addition to getting the patients ready to move, staff also had to put equipment up, literally, so it would be OK if the facilities flooded. Staff loaded the 89 creatures — sea turtles, diamondback terrapins, etc. — and the equipment that came with them into two vans and a minibus for the trip to the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 9, 2019

Copper Brunswick

Copper  is a young male Redbone Coonhound who is available for adoption from the The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Confident, clever, and intelligent. That’s Copper in a nutshell. This handsome 1-year-old Coonhound mix loves to follow his nose and howl a good tune. He is fast, strong, and holds true to his instincts. Although he was found as a stray, we hear he is house trained and good with other animals. If you’ve fallen head over heels for this handsome hound, stop in.

Flossy Brunswick

Flossy is a young female Treeing Walker Coonhound and Greyhound mix who is available for adoption from the The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Flossy and Mossy were brought in as strays, but never reclaimed by an owner. They have come a long way from being found out in the woods, and seem to like it just fine here! However, they would of course love it even more if they had homes of their own, together or separately. They are energetic, nose-to-the-ground girls who like to sniff out everything around them. The best find of all for them would be new families! Spayed, microchipped, current on core vaccines and tested negative for heartworms, Flossy and Mossy are waiting patiently for you.

Sandy Brunswick

Sandy is a female Labrador Retriever who is available for adoption from the The Humane Society of South Coastal Georgia in Brunswick, GA.

Sandy is a sweet 8 year old lab mix that is looking for a new home where she can relax. She would be a great addition to a family with other dogs her size, but isn’t a huge fan of cats. We have also been told she is not a fan of thunderstorms (what dog is!?) and has a tendency to escape when she is frightened. Sandy is spayed, current on core vaccines, microchipped, and tested negative for heartworms. Are you able to provide Sandy a safe home to spend her golden years?


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 9, 2019

The Continental Congress renamed their new nation the United States of America, from the previously used “United Colonies” on September 9, 1776.

On September 9, 1933, WSB Radio in Atlanta was upgraded to broadcasting via 50,000 watt transmitter. The first broadcast included Will Rogers and a letter from President Roosevelt.

On September 9, 1939, an audience at the Fox Theater in Riverside, California watched a preview of Gone With the Wind.

The first actual computer bug was identified on September 9, 1947, when Grace Hopper removed a moth from an electrical relay in the Harvard Mark II computer. Hopper received her Ph.D. in Mathematics from Yale in 1934 and attained the rank of Rear Admiral, Lower Half in the United Stated Navy. USS Hopper (DDG-70) was named after her.

On September 9, 1954, Marvin Griffin won the Democratic Primary election over Melvin Thompson.

Elvis Presley first appeared on The Ed Sullivan Show on September 9, 1956.

Happy 77th birthday to former Congressman John Linder. Linder served in the State House from 1974-1980 and 1982-90. In 1990 he ran unsuccessfully for Congress against incumbent Democrat Ben Jones; in 1992, after redistricting, Linder was elected to Congress from the 7th District and served until his retirement after the 2010 election.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

A cargo ship capsized in St Simons Sound, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Coast Guard Capt. John Reed said Sunday afternoon that rescue teams safely evacuated 20 people from the ship in St. Simons Sound near Brunswick, but then determined the situation was too risky to go farther inside the vessel.

Reed said rescue teams, which involve federal, state and local agencies, are trying to stabilize the M/V Golden Ray cargo ship to continue their search for the missing crew members. He said they have been unable to determine if the fire has been extinguished.

Four people remain unaccounted for on the 656-foot vehicle carrier. The vessel is turned on its side in the St. Simons Sound about 400 feet off the St. Simons village fishing pier, said Robert Morris, senior communications officer for Georgia Ports Authority.

The [Brunswick] port is closed as search and rescue efforts continue. Morris said he didn’t know of any vessels that have been delayed and the focus remains on the rescue efforts.

Senator David Perdue (R) will speak at UGA on October 9 at 11:15 AM, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

The Associated Press writes that Congressman Doug Collins (R-Gainesville) expressed interest in appointment to the U.S. Senate seat being vacated by Sen. Johnny Isakson.

Now, amid speculation over whom Gov. Brian Kemp might appoint to replace Isakson until a special election is held, some hopefuls are raising their hands for consideration.

One of those prominent contenders is Rep. Doug Collins, who has emerged as one of President Donald Trump’s chief defenders in Congress through his role as the top Republican on the House Judiciary panel.

But what exactly Kemp is looking for in a replacement is still largely unknown.

There will be no primary elections for Isakson’s seat, meaning the special election will be open to qualified candidates from all political parties. That could significantly increase the likelihood of a runoff, required by Georgia law if no candidate receives over 50% of the vote.

Republican strategists say other potential candidates include U.S. Rep. Tom Graves and statewide officers like Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan and Attorney General Chris Carr.

When asked about Isakson’s seat in a recent interview, Collins told The Associated Press: “If the governor were to ask me, would I like to take that position and begin that cycle? I would say yes.”

Democrat Lucy McBath (TN) didn’t rule out a Senate bid, according to the AJC.

Democratic U.S. Rep. Lucy McBath signaled Sunday that she hasn’t ruled out a bid for a newly-opened U.S. Senate seat, telling the crowd at a town hall meeting in Sandy Springs that she’s ignoring the “chatter” about her potential candidacy.

“What I will tell you is that I’m invested in your future,” she told an audience of hundreds, responding to a pointed question pressing her on whether she would commit to seeking a second term in Georgia’s 6th District.

McBath is said to be seriously considering a run, though some state and national Democrats are urging her to stay in the U.S. House, where she has the advantage of incumbency against former Republican Rep. Karen Handel and several other Republicans looking to win back the seat.

Former State Rep. Clay Cox (R-Lilburn) will run for the seat he lost in 2018, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Cox has announced he will run for the Republican nomination for the State House District 108 seat. Cox, a resident of Lilburn, represented the district several years ago and came back to serve a second two-year stint as the district’s representative during the 2017-2018 legislative session. He is seeking a rematch against state Rep. Jasmine Clark, D-Lilburn, who defeated Cox in the November 2018 general election.

“After much prayer, discussion with my family, and encouragement from so many throughout our community, I am proud to announce my candidacy for the State House of Representatives,” Cox said in a statement. “I love Lilburn, I grew up here, started a successful business in Lilburn and this is where we have raised our family. I have a strong desire to see our community reinvigorated and our economy growing.”

Municipal tourism groups are reportedly discussing tax collection with AirBNB, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

As travelers increasingly opt for online platforms such as Airbnb over traditional hotels, municipalities are looking for ways to recoup the loss in lodging taxes. Many have entered into “voluntary collection” agreements with online providers, where the company itself handles collection and remittance of taxes from those using their service. Other cities, such as Savannah, have enacted registration ordinances for short-term rental property owners.

In Augusta, where the Masters Tournament fills hotels and many private residences for one week a year, officials estimate they are losing up to $200,000 a year in lost lodging taxes.

The city’s tourism-marketing organization, the Augusta Convention & Visitors Bureau – one of two recipients of city lodging taxes – has begun laying the groundwork for a voluntary tax-collection agreement with home rental giant Airbnb.

Though Airbnb has such agreements with municipalities across the nation, it has none in Georgia, one of the few states that has not negotiated a deal with the San Francisco-based company.

Airbnb rentals are on the rise in Augusta. The company reported a 42 percent increase in bookings during Masters Week 2018 compared to the previous year. It has not disclosed figures for the 2019 tournament.

The Georgia Association of Convention & Visitors Bureaus, headed by Augusta resident Jay Markwalter, a former executive with the Augusta CVB, said in a statement that Georgia is going through a learning process, and acknowledged some of its member organizations are interested in pursuing tax-collection options for short-term rentals.

“As with many new platforms in the shared economy, the learning curve is often steepest in the beginning. Short-term rentals have grown into a significant option as part of the total tourism package,” Markwalter said. “We recognize that economic benefit to homeowners, local businesses, and destination marketing organizations around the state. We believe that communities throughout Georgia benefit when the entire lodging industry collects and remits appropriate taxes and fees.”

The Ledger-Enquirer looks at the current regional Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) and projects.

Your sales tax dollars will help pay for more thanr $260.3 million worth of roads, bridges and pedestrian pathways in Muscogee County by the year 2022.

The 10-year tax, approved by voters in 2012, is budgeted to fund transportation improvements in 16 counties including Muscogee.

The other counties are Chattahoochee, Marion, Talbot, Harris, Stewart, Webster, Taylor, Schley, Macon, Sumter, Quitman, Clay, Randolph, Dooly and Crisp.

The original approved budget for all 23 of the region’s projects is $410,754,730.

All of the counties recently passed resolutions in favor of a second 10-year sales tax except Muscogee County, which effectively began the process of bringing the proposal to voters.

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson said that a conflict with the city’s proposed 1% sales tax could mean the Columbus Council actively campaigns against the transportation tax.

Despite Columbus Council’s decision not to endorse another transportation tax, the process to put it on the ballot will still continue, as the counties could be penalized for not bringing a project list before voters.

The current tax ends Dec. 31, 2022. A second tax could be seen on the ballot in 2020, 2021 or 2022.

The Glynn County Board of Elections meets Tuesday to discuss implementing new voting machines, according to The Brunswick News.

Elections and Registration Supervisor Chris Channell said he couldn’t talk specifics. Due to the hurricane, board staff members had yet to fully prepare for the meeting, he said.

Glynn County is one of the counties that will continue to use old voting machines in the November municipal elections. Channell has previously said he expects Glynn County will get a few machines soon to use for training and public education before the 2020 elections.

The board is scheduled to meet at 10:30 a.m. Tuesday on the second floor of the Office Park Building, 1815 Gloucester St. in Brunswick.

Hall County will begin mailing property tax statements on September 13, with a November 15 due date for payments, according to the Gainesville Times.

Statesboro City Council voted to appoint Leah Harden as the new City Clerk, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams partially reopened shellfish harvesting, according to The Brunswick News.

The closure of the state’s shellfish fishery as a preemptive, protective measure ahead of Hurricane Dorian ended Friday morning as state Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams issued a new administrative order reopening harvesting for clams and other bivalve mollusks.

However, oyster harvesting remains closed until at least the beginning of October, when ocean temperatures are projected to drop below 81 degrees Fahrenheit.

“The harvest of shellfish was previously closed out of caution to protect public health and in accordance with the Interstate Shellfish Sanitation Conference and Federal Food and Drug Administration guidelines,” according to a release by the DNR’s Coastal Resources Division.

Floyd County Commission will vote on whether to renew a road maintenance contract with the Georgia Department of Transportation, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Hall County Superior Court Judge Kathy Gosselin will Chair the Council of Accountability Courts beginning July 1, 2020, according to AccessWDUN.

Gosselin has 15 years of experience presiding over a mental health court and five years of experience with the veteran court.

Her election as Chair to this state-wide council comes after serving as the mental health court representative on the Executive Committee for three years (the initial three years of the Council’s formation), the Funding Chair for the last four years (overseeing grants to all the accountability courts in the State), and as Vice-Chair last year.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 6, 2019

Bart Camden

Bart is a young male Hound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

Rosita Camden

Rosita is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

Tate Camden

Tate is a young male Bluetick Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.

Sabrina Camden

Sabrina is a young female mixed breed puppy who is available for adoption from the Humane Society of Camden County in Kingsland, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 6, 2019

Join us Saturday, September 14, 2019 at Georgia State Stadium formerly Turner Field, for the ALS Walk to benefit the ALS Association Georgia Chapter.

My late wife, Stephanie Lotti, known here previously as Mrs. GaPundit, died in 2018 from ALS. During her disability, the ALS Association provided tremendous support to our family, for which I remain grateful.

The Mayflower left Plymouth, England for a voyage to America on September 6, 1620.

On September 7, 1864, General William T. Sherman sent a letter to his Confederate counterpart, General John Bell Hood, offering to transport civilians out of Atlanta for their safety.

The Georgia General Assembly appropriated $1 million for construction of a new State Capitol on September 8, 1883.

President William McKinley was shot on September 6, 1901. He is buried in Canton, Ohio, not far from the Professional Football Hall of Fame.

Alonzo Herndon founded the Atlanta Life Insurance Company on September 6, 1905, one of Georgia’s great success stories.

The Fulton County Courthouse was dedicated on September 8, 1914.

The first supermarket, a Piggly Wiggly, opened on September 6, 1916 in Memphis, Tennessee.

On September 6, 1941, Margaret Mitchell christened the cruiser USS Atlanta – Atlanta would later sink after being hit by 50 shells and a torpedo during the Battle of Guadalcanal.

The Professional Football Hall of Fame opened on September 7, 1963 in Canton, Ohio.

The Summerhill Race Riot broke out in Atlanta on September 6, 1966.

Future Atlanta resident Curtis Mayfield saw his song, “Superfly” turn gold on September 7, 1972.

Here’s my favorite song by Curtis Mayfield, “People Get Ready.”

President Gerald Ford pardoned former President Richard Nixon on September 8, 1974 for “all offenses against the United States which he, Richard Nixon, has committed or may have committed or taken part in during the period from January 20, 1969 through August 9, 1974.”

Former Georgia Governor Jimmy Carter returned to the Little White House in Warm Springs, Georgia, on September 6, 1976 to kick off the final phase of his presidential campaign.

On September 8, 1976, the Georgia State Board of Education began reviewing the FY 1977 Department of Education budget, the first to exceed one billion dollars.

On September 7, 1977, President Jimmy Carter signed the Panama Canal Treaty, which promised to turn over control of the canal to Panama by 2000.

On September 8, 1986, Herschel Walker made his professional football debut with the Dallas Cowboys.

Google was founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin on September 7, 1998.

On September 6, 2014, USS John Warner (SSN-785), a mighty Virginia-class nuclear attack submarine, was christened at Newport News Shipbuilding. Big John calls Naval Station Norfolk its homeport. USS John Warner was commissioned on August 1, 2015 at Norfolk Naval Station.

Happy 81st birthday on Sunday to Sam Nunn, who graduated from Emory College (1960) and Emory University School of Law (1963) before being elected to the United States Senate in 1972. If you were born before November 6, 1972, you’ve never seen his name on your ballot.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Early voting is open in the September 17 Special Election for Mayor of Perry, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Randall Walker, a former city councilman, and Robbin Jackson, a Perdue Farms employee, qualified for the race to finish out [former Mayor Jimmy] Faircloth’s term, which ends in 2021. The City Council has called a special meeting Sept. 23 to swear in the winner of the election as mayor.

Governor Brian Kemp lifted the mandatory evacuation of coastal Georgia.

[Thursday] at 9:30 AM, Governor Brian P. Kemp lifted the mandatory evacuation order for people east of Interstate 95 in Bryan, Camden, Chatham, Glynn, Liberty, and McIntosh Counties.

So far, Bryan, Camden, Glynn, and Liberty Counties have authorized re-entry for residents and visitors. The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has begun inspection of roads and bridges in affected counties. Some roads and bridges may remain impassable even after rescission of the mandatory evacuation order. The F.J. Torras (St. Simons Island), Downing Musgrove (Jekyll Island), and Tybee Island Causeways are cleared for travel. The Sidney Lanier Bridge is also clear for travel. GDOT is inspecting the US-17 Savannah River Bridge.

“I want to thank the countless emergency management officials, law enforcement, first responders, local leaders, and Georgians who worked together to prepare and respond to Hurricane Dorian. As Governor, I am incredibly proud of our statewide collaboration and deeply grateful that we experienced no loss of life. Many Georgians still have challenges ahead – power outages, fallen trees, and property damage – in the aftermath of this powerful storm, but I am confident that we will address them and emerge even stronger,” said Governor Kemp. “Now, we must stand together and offer our assistance to the Bahamas and our neighbors, South Carolina and North Carolina.”

From the Savannah Morning News:

Chatham County Emergency Management officials tweeted that all who evacuated may re-enter.

CEMA said they will be working throughout the day to return those who evacuated to an inland shelter through the Evacuation Assembly Area. In coordination with the State of Georgia and Department of Public Health, efforts to return our Functional Access and Medical Needs population are underway and planning efforts to return them to their homes will begin tomorrow.

Soldiers, civilians, and family members of Hunter Army Airfield (HAAF) are to follow the guidance of the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield senior command.

Savannah had no reported injuries from the storm, according to the Savannah Morning News.

No injuries were reported from the storm. Dorian toppled about 20 trees countywide. Power outages peaked at around 16,000 county-wide Thursday morning and dropped quickly as crews made repairs. Outages occurred throughout the county but were highest on Tybee and Wilmington islands, Isle of Hope, and Ferguson Avenue near Skidaway Island.

Emergency managers are looking at data from Georgia Power, AT&T and Verizon to determine usages before and after the evacuation order and estimate how many people actually evacuated, Jones said. He downplayed the notion that Savannah residents’ experience with Dorian would make them less likely to evacuate in the future.

“Well, we have a very well educated community,” he said. “They saw the damages that we have with previous storms, they saw the storm that was coming our way. And you know, a lot of the decisions that were made to evacuate were personal decisions based on history.”

The storm brought 1.29 inches of rain to Hunter Army Airfield. The actual storm surge of 3.5 feet fell within the predicted 3-5 feet, but did not coincide with the high tide as forecasters initially worried it would. U.S. 80 to Tybee did not flood and never closed. The tide gauge at Fort Pulaski reached 9.55 feet at its height, lower than was seen last weekend during high tides unrelated to Hurricane Dorian.

The sustained winds at Fort Pulaski topped out overnight at tropical storm force of about 41 mph, gusting to about 60 mph. Gusts at the Savannah Hilton head International Airport reached 45 mph. Sustained winds there reached 28 mph.

Savannah and Thunderbolt lifted their 9 p.m. to 6 a.m. curfews as of Thursday.

Most of Augusta’s evacuees are returning home, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

With Gov. Brian Kemp lifting the evacuation order for Savannah on Thursday, most but not all of some 1,300 evacuees staying in Augusta shelters headed for home.

As Hurricane Dorian churned up the South Carolina coast toward North Carolina and away from coastal Georgia, the evacuees who’d been bused in from Savannah began boarding charter buses at 2 p.m., starting with 228 staying at Butler High School.

President Trump will get another appointment to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, according to the AJC.

President Donald Trump has yet another seat to fill on the federal appeals court in Atlanta, giving him the chance to appoint almost half of the court’s judges during his first term in office.

Judge Stanley Marcus became the latest member of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to tell Trump he will take senior status with a reduced caseload. Marcus said he will become a senior judge when his successor is sworn into office or on March 2, whichever comes first.

Although Marcus was appointed by a Democrat, President Bill Clinton, he has often sided with the 11th Circuit’s conservative wing.

The 11th Circuit is allotted five judges from Florida, four from Georgia and three from Alabama.

Trump previously filled two Georgia seats with former Georgia Supreme Court Justice Britt Grant and former Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Elizabeth Branch. Trump filled an Alabama seat with former state Solicitor General Kevin Newsom.

Last month, Judge Gerald Tjoflat told Trump that he, too, will take senior status. Trump has yet to nominate Tjoflat’s successor.

Trump’s nominees to succeed Marcus and Tjoflat must be from Florida, because Marcus’ chambers are in Miami and Tjoflat’s are in Jacksonville.

Southern Judicial Circuit Chief Judge Harry Jay Altman, II is resigning his seat on the bench, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Southern Circuit Chief Judge Harry Jay Altman has submitted a letter of resignation to Gov. Brian Kemp.

“… It is time for me to retire. It is time to pass on the responsibilities of my position,” according to a copy of the letter sent to The Valdosta Daily Times.

Altman, 68, was appointed to the bench in August 1994, serving in the position for a quarter-century. The Southern Judicial Circuit covers Brooks, Colquitt, Echols, Lowndes and Thomas counties.

He became chief judge of the Southern Circuit in 2009.

Altman said his resignation becomes effective Jan. 1.

Altman, a Thomasville native, graduated from Thomasville High School, Washington and Lee University and the Georgia Law School, returning to Thomasville after finishing law school in 1975.

State Rep. Ed Rynders (R-Albany) is resigning his seat, according to the Albany Herald.

A 17-year House veteran, Rynders revealed to The Albany Herald that he has health concerns that are part of a “perfect storm” of issues that led him to make the decision to step down from his seat in the House with a year left on his current two-year term.

“My wife, Jane, and I had already been talking about what we would do when we retire, and two of the places we talked about were the Georgia Coast and Athens,” Rynders said during a lengthy Thursday-morning conversation. “The local (Lee County) school system also made some personnel changes that would have made my daughter (Megan Ealam) one of my wife’s supervisors (at Twin Oaks Elementary School), which had the possibility of being awkward.”

“Plus, and not a lot of people know this, I had a heart attack in June and needed three stents. I had health issues going back to the last session of the Legislature — I even missed a couple of votes because of these issues, which I rarely do — and knew something was wrong. I’m not one who shares my personal issues with a lot of people, but I was doing some cleaning (on rental property) while Jane was out of town and it grabbed me. I got in my truck, tried to catch my breath, drove home and went to bed. But (the symptoms) did not go away.”

“I called (now former Phoebe CEO) Joel Wernick and told him I thought I was having a heart attack,” Rynders continued. “I managed to walk in, and within a minute of getting there they had me hooked up.”

“But going through the voting machine issue during the last session required a lot of ‘heavy lifting’ on my part, and with redistricting coming up, I knew there was going to be a great deal of pressure once again. In the end, I look at the distinguished careers of two men I admire, Doug Everett and Johnny Isakson, and one thing I took from conversations with them is ‘It’s OK to walk away.’”

When Rynders sends a resignation letter he has written to Gov. Brian Kemp, Kemp will set a date for a special election to complete the year left on Rynders’ current term.

Deloitte Consulting issued a report on Georgia health care to Gov. Kemp, according to the AJC.

Enabled by a new law granting him a budget and power to draw up new health care proposals for the state, Gov. Brian Kemp hired the consulting firm Deloitte to report back to him on the landscape of Georgia health care. The goal of the report is to help him chart the new path. He recently got Deloitte’s findings.

Georgia has worse access to health care than most states, such as available doctors and mental health care providers. In one recent year, 17% of Georgians said they needed to see a doctor in the past 12 months but couldn’t because of cost.

And it shows in health outcomes. Georgia, the home of nationally known hospitals and other top health programs, ranks in the bottom one-third of states for the health outcomes of its residents, such as premature deaths, infant mortality or diabetes.

Large numbers of uninsured means people who don’t get care until it’s an emergency, or ever. It means people who get care in emergency rooms, leaving hospitals and caregivers with unpaid bills.

Lieutenant Governor Geoff Duncan convened a Task Force on Healthcare Access and Costs, according to the AJC.

Lt. Gov. Geoff Duncan convened the meeting with the goal of guiding future legislation, he said.

“Ultimately, the goal of this task force is to create a plan,” Duncan told the attendees. “It’s not already written. But to create a plan for us to be able to tackle some of the biggest initiatives in Georgia.”

Duncan announced the task force as a means to find private-sector-oriented solutions for Georgia health care. Thursday’s meeting was the first of several, and it focused on data.

The task force also heard from speakers on telemedicine and using data analytics to detect fraud. The committee, which includes health lobbyists, officials and policymakers, is scheduled to meet again Oct. 9.

Bulloch County was minimally damaged by Dorian, according to the Statesboro Herald.

In Bulloch County, only one tree was reported to have fallen Wednesday night — a tree on Niver Road, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn. No damages were reported anywhere in the county, and “sporadic power outages” experienced in some small areas were not caused by wind, he said.

With Dorian taking a path similar to Hurricane Matthew, wavering from Category 5 to Category 2 and then back to Category 3 strength, Bulloch County public safety was prepared for the worst, he said. Work crews, emergency responders and law enforcement stayed out all night, a curfew was set for midnight to daylight, and everyone was ready to handle high winds, flooding rains and power outages. Fortunately, those never appeared.

Georgia Southern University remains closed for classes Friday, but offices will be open. Ogeechee Technical College is normally closed on Fridays.

Bulloch County public schools and related activities will resume a normal schedule Friday, said marketing director Hayley Greene.

Also suffering minimal impact, according to The Brunswick News were Camden County, Glynn County, and the Golden Isles.

Damage to Tybee Island was de minimis, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is assessing coastal damage from Dorian, according to The Brunswick News.

“It’s a little early to even get people on the islands. We’re still kind of assessing what the status of the infrastructure out there is…,” said Mark Dodd, head of the state Department of Natural Resources’ sea turtle program. “It’s going to be a couple days before we’re able to get people out on the islands and get roads cleared and get equipment running again. The islands we work on, they’re mostly remote islands, and it’s really logistically difficult — without a hurricane — to get to all the beaches.”

“We had to move the equipment and kayaks and canoes and ways that we access the more remote parts of the beaches have all been put up for the hurricane,” Dodd said. “So, we’ve got to get all that back into place before we can get to some of these areas.”

“Just looking at the tide gauge data … the tides were actually higher prior to the storm during the new moon period,’ Dodd said. “Obviously, with the storm there was a lot of wave energy associated with that, so we expect that we lost some beach, and certainly that we lost some of the nests that were at low elevations on the beach. But, we also think that a lot of nests probably weather the storm — the higher nests on the beach weathered the storm without any negative effect.”

Over on Cumberland Island, assessment continues as U.S. Rep. Buddy Carter, R-1, announced late Thursday that the U.S. Department of Transportation awarded a grant of more than $3.5 million for repair of the Cumberland docks damaged by Hurricane Irma in 2017.

“As the representative of the entire coast of Georgia, I understand the critical importance of not only preparing for severe weather, but also ensuring recovery,” Carter said in a statement. “This grant is very important as it will work to return the docks to pre-disaster conditions.”

Augusta law enforcement agencies will purchase crime fighting technology with a federal grant, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

At a joint press conference Thursday, U.S. Attorney Bobby Christine announced the Richmond County Sheriff’s Office and the Augusta Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s office have been awarded grants through the DOJ’s Project Safe Neighborhoods program to purchase expensive equipment.

Sheriff Richard Roundtree said the $35,790 grant for his department will be used to buy GPS tracking equipment, covert cameras and more mobile fingerprint scanners. The department will have enough scanners now to ensure there is one available in each zone so officers can confirm identities in the field.

Whitfield County‘s Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) advisory committee announced criteria for projects to be included in a prospective referendum, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Committee members agreed that any SPLOST projects should be non-recurring, agreeable to the voters and positively impact a substantial portion of the population.

The committee members appeared in favor of paying off at least some — or all — of the $2.955 million remaining on a bond for construction of a fire station on Riverbend Road in the county’s southern section. That was listed as the top priority by Edward O’Brien, the fire chief for Whitfield County.

“We need to establish some sort of general guidelines” for what a SPLOST project ought to be in Whitfield County, said Chris Shiflett, chairman of the committee. For Shiflett, projects warranting consideration should be extraordinary, “truly beneficial to the community,” and outside the normal budgets of the respective governmental entities.

SPLOST is a financing method for funding capital and other special projects; if approved by voters, the 1% tax is levied on most goods sold in the county.

A SPLOST allows a county to receive revenue that would otherwise have to derive from property taxes, said Pam Partain, a committee member, noting, “I’m a fan of SPLOST.”

Bob Huskey, another committee member, believes projects covered by a SPLOST need to benefit a significant number of residents to succeed at the ballot box. This community has a history of voting against SPLOST referendums, including earlier this year, he noted. However, “if we come up with the right list, I think we can get it done,” he said.

Chatsworth will open qualifying for a November 5 special election to city council, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Qualifying will take place Wednesday, Sept. 18, and Thursday, Sept. 19, from 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Friday, Sept. 20, from 8:30 a.m. to noon for the unexpired term for the Post 1 seat formerly held by K.W. Gong. That term expires on Dec. 31, 2021.

Gong stepped down last month to run for mayor. He is unopposed in that race. Mayor Tyson Haynes did not seek re-election.

Nine candidates for Atlanta Board of Education will meet in a forum before the September 17 special election, according to the AJC.

Voters will have a couple of opportunities to hear from Atlanta school board candidates before the Sept. 17 election for the District 2 seat.

The need for the special election was caused by the departure earlier this year of former school board member Byron Amos, who left to run for Atlanta City Council.

A League of Women Voters of Atlanta-Fulton County forum will take place at 6 p.m. Sept. 10 at Lindsay Street Baptist Church, 550 Lindsay St. NW.

KIPP Metro Atlanta Schools will host a forum at 6 p.m. Sept. 11 at KIPP Atlanta Collegiate High School, 98 Anderson Ave. NW. The charter school network operates several schools in District 2.

The University of Georgia Cooperative Extension completed its “Great Georgia Pollinator Census” last month, according to the Athens Banner Herald.

More than 4,500 people participated in the nation’s first statewide pollinator census and recorded seeing about 134,000 insect pollinators.

Volunteers from 133 of Georgia’s 159 counties participated, said Becky Griffin, school and community garden coordinator with the extension and the count’s organizer.

Volunteers, including many school groups, were asked to watch a blooming plant for 15 minutes, counting the insect pollinators that visited and putting them into broad categories such as honeybees, bumblebees, butterflies and so on, along with information about time of day and location.

Griffin expects to be able to derive some scientific data from the count — for example, the presence of native bees.

“That’s a really important piece of data,” she said. Georgia has about 400 species of native bees.

Norcross is soliciting bids to install speed cameras, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

The city issued an invitation for companies to submit bids for the purchase and installation of speed cameras, which would capture speeders without the presence of an officer. The cameras capture the plates of speeder and notify police, who issue tickets to offenders.

The bid invitation says the chosen vendor will provide and install all equipment and monitor the camera system for violations. The equipment and monitoring will be provided at no cost to the City of Norcross with revenue sharing of collections.

“Like many agencies now in Georgia, we are asking for bids to place speed cameras at four of our city school zones where we have had a history a chronic speeding problems,” Norcross Police Chief Bill Grogan said. “This is all under House Bill 978 approved last year by house and senate.”

House Bill 978 amended state laws regarding penalties and fees for overtaking stopped school buses and opened the door for cities to install automated traffic enforcement safety devices in school zones.

Suwanee City Council voted to amend their alcohol ordinance, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

A recent amendment to an ordinance approved by the Suwanee City Council will allow patrons of licensed restaurants or vendors to carry mixed drinks outside at Town Center Park.

The City Council’s minutes from that meeting specifically say that Chapter 6 of the City Code of Ordinances will now allow mixed drinks outdoors in the Town Center District. The language of the ordinance states “licensed eating establishments, downtown pubs, and mobile food vendor-served establishments located in the Town Center District may sell individual alcoholic beverages for consumption to persons authorized to possess or consume alcoholic beverages in the Town Center District including Town Center Park.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 5, 2019

The Washington Wilkes Animal Shelter in Washington, Georgia, is serving as emergency housing for some animals displaced by Hurricane Dorian.

Click here to donate online to the Washington Wilkes Animal Shelter.

Rigatoni Washington Wilkes

Rigatoni is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Ravioli Washington Wilkes

Ravioli is a young male Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.

Fettuccine Washington Wilkes

Fettuccine is a young female Labrador Retriever mix puppy who is available for adoption from the Washington Wilkes Animal Shelter in Washington, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 5, 2019

On September 5, 1774, the Continental Congress convened for the first time at Carpenter’s Hall in Philadelphia; delegates attended from all the colonies except Georgia.

The Heart of Atlanta Motel opened at 255 Courtland Street in downtown Atlanta on September 5, 1956. It included a three-story diving platform reached by spiral stairs and a pool large enough to hold a ski boat. African-Americans were not allowed at the Heart of Atlanta. [Photos © Georgia State University]

heart of atlanta

After passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, which banned racial discrimination in interstate commerce, the Heart of Atlanta’s owner sued the federal government, asserting that the Act was an overly broad interpretation of the Commerce Clause of the United States Constitution.

The resulting decision by the United States Supreme Court upheld the Act, finding that Congress was within its authority to ban racial discrimination in businesses affecting interstate commerce.

Atlanta Time Machine has a webpage with interesting images of the Motel.

On September 5, 1969, United States Army Lieutenant William Calley was charged with murder in connection with the deaths of 109 Vietnamese civilians at My Lai. An Army inquiry listed 30 people who knew of the event and charges were filed against 14; Calley was the only conviction. Later, President Nixon paroled Calley. From 1975 to 2005 or 2006, Calley lived and worked in Columbus, Georgia, before moving to Atlanta. In 2009, Calley apologized for the events at My Lai while speaking to a meeting of the Kiwanis Club of Greater Columbus.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Click here for Georgia Power’s outage map.

Glynn County experienced light power outages yesterday due to Hurricane Dorian, according to The Brunswick News.

A large Georgia Power Company crew is already on standby in the Golden Isles and working to repair any power outages that may occur today as Hurricane Dorian nears and weather intensifies, according company officials said.

There were scattered power outages in Glynn County, according to Georgia Power’s outage map. As of 5 p.m. Wednesday, there were 49 total outages with more than 2,400 people affected, according to the map.

Additionally, Georgia Power line crews statewide were summed to pack for a mission of up to one week and be “ready to roll” as soon as Dorian passes. Staging areas along the coast already are set up to receive these crews. Neighboring power crews in Alabama and Mississippi also are on standby.

Coastal Georgia hospitals have evacuated some patients, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Ahead of Dorian’s approach, several babies in neonatal intensive care units have been transferred to Augusta University Medical Center and Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta and Piedmont Columbus hospitals, the Georgia Hospital Association said Monday.

The Augusta Chronicle reported five neonatal patients were brought to University Hospital from Memorial Health in Savannah, one by airlift and two sets of twins by ambulance.

And Fox 5 Atlanta said that a team from Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta transported 10 babies from Savannah, who are now in a neonatal intensive care unit at the pediatric organization’s Scottish Rite hospital.

Senior care centers in Brunswick and St. Marys were being evacuated and family members had been notified. All outpatient services and elective surgeries were canceled, and patients were to be contacted later to reschedule the procedures.

More than 1300 evacuees are being hosted in Richmond County school facilities, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Richmond County Schools are now the temporary home of 1,321 Savannah residents evacuated in anticipation of Hurricane Dorian.

The evacuees, bused from Savannah, are being housed at five Richmond County high schools, when two additional shelters opened at Glenn Hills Middle School and Pine Hill Middle School, Augusta Fire Chief and Emergency Management Agency Director Chris James said.

Richmond County public schools will remain closed on Friday, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Richmond County School System will remain closed on Friday to continue shelter support for Hurricane Dorian evacuees currently housed on school campuses from Savannah.

The decision to remain closed on Friday is a direct result of Gov. Brian Kemp’s remaining mandatory evacuation order and the resources necessary to support each shelter site, according to a school system release. The school closings had originally been set for Monday through Thursday.

United States Marine Corps recruits were evacuated from Parris Island, SC to Albany, according to the Albany Herald.

arine Corps recruits from Marine Corps Recruit Depot Parris Island, totaling nearly 7,000 in all, have come to stay at Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany while evacuation orders remain in effect due to Hurricane Dorian.

With their drill instructors alongside them, a relocation does not stop the recruits’ training.

“Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany is in a unique position to service some of the military units on the Gulf Coast and up and down the Eastern Seaboard as safe haven missions, which is one of our primary missions,” Col. Alphonso Trimble, commanding officer of MCLB-Albany, said in a social media video clip.

Following an evacuation order issued by South Carolina officials that went into effect Monday, the recruits began arriving Tuesday evening and into Wednesday. Brig. Gen. James Glynn, commanding general for the depot, said in a video message that the evacuation order is expected to be lifted this afternoon, and that normal operations at Parris Island ought to resume at noon Friday.

Former State Representative Roger Williams has died, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Roger Williams, who served 22 years in the Georgia House of Representatives from Dalton and later was a member of the State Transportation Board, died Wednesday at the age of 85. Allyson Williams said her father had been suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, and he had been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease.

Williams was elected as a Democrat and served five consecutive terms from 1977 to 1986. He was elected as a Republican in a 2001 special election to finish the unexpired term of the late Harold Mann and was re-elected each time until he did not run for re-election after the 2012 legislative session.

Georgia Speaker of the House David Ralston, R-Blue Ridge, said Williams enjoyed a level of trust and respect among legislators that few have attained.

“Roger Williams served with grace, dignity and integrity,” Ralston said. “He cared deeply about his community and worked hard every day to represent Dalton and Whitfield County. Not only was he a great leader, but he was a dear friend of mine and a solid rock of wisdom and good counsel.”

After he left the state legislature, the local legislative conference elected Williams as the area’s 14th Congressional District representative on the State Transportation Board.

The Georgia Senate Study Committee on Passenger Vehicle Seat Safety Belts met yesterday to discuss the existing exemption for backseat passengers, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

State Sen. Tonya Anderson, D-Lithonia, is leading the initiative to fill in the gap in the current law that exempts adult passengers in the back seat of vehicles from having to wear a seat belt.

“To find this loophole and to bring it in front of the general assembly is in the interest of public safety and saving lives,” Anderson said.

Georgia is one of the 20 states that do not enforce the use of rear seatbelts. Nationally, 47% of motorists killed in car crashes were not wearing seat belts, said Allen Poole, director of the Georgia Governor’s Office of Highway Safety.

“Just because you’re in the back of the vehicle doesn’t mean you’re more safe than in the front of the vehicle,” Poole said.

Insurance rates are high in Georgia because of the state’s high number of car crashes — especially in the metropolitan area, Poole said. Georgia is ranked in the top five states nationally that have the highest number of car accidents.

Georgia Department of Natural Resources Commissioner Mark Williams signed an order temporarily halting the shellfish harvest, according to The Brunswick News.

“This closure is precautionary and made in the interest of protecting public health,” according to a statement by the DNR’s Coastal Resources Division. “Shellfish harvest will reopen after DNR has conducted water quality and shellfish meat samples and ensured bacterial thresholds are safe for human consumption.”

“Predicted impacts from Hurricane Doran include heavy rains and larger than normal tidal surges that may result in elevated bacterial levels from run off into the growing areas resulting in potential contamination of shellfish beds. This closure includes clams and any other bivalve molluscan shellfish from all Georgia waters at this time.”

Lake Park City Council will hold an emergency meeting today, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

Lake Park City Council has called an emergency meeting for Thursday to discuss finding a new municipal court judge — a move the current judge says is financially motivated.

The city clerk’s office sent out a statement Wednesday that the meeting will be held 6 p.m. The clerk’s office also confirmed that discussing a change of judges is the reason for the meeting.

The current municipal court judge, Carlos Rodgers, says council wants him out because he is too lenient on fines.

“If someone comes in with a ticket for “no insurance,’ which is a $600 fine, but has proof he’s corrected the problem, I’ll cut it in half,” he said. “All the classes judges take tell us not to be hard on fines.”

Statesboro City Council adopted a new blight tax, according to the Statesboro Herald.

City Council took another step Tuesday toward a carrot-and-stick approach to compel repair or removal of dilapidated, abandoned houses and the cleanup of other “unsafe” properties, approving a first reading of a blight tax ordinance.

If enacted after a second reading, the ordinance as drafted would impose a special tax, seven times the city’s regular millage rate, on properties deemed “blighted” by the Municipal Court, until ordered improvements are made. After improvements, the tax rate would rate would be reduced to one-half the regular rate for from one to four years.

“This is a hybrid carrot-stick approach to blighted properties within the community,” said City Attorney Cain Smith, presenting the draft ordinance.

Medical College of Georgia is working to reduce the physician shortage in rural Georgia, according to the Statesboro Herald.

A plan by the Medical College of Georgia, part of Augusta University, to send more new doctors to underserved, rural counties has executives of some hospitals in the area interested. MCG intends to shorten medical school by one year and make it tuition-free for up to 50 new physicians each year who fulfill a commitment to complete their post-graduate residencies in Georgia and then serve at least six years in underserved, rural Georgia counties.

Currently, about 75 percent of the new doctors graduating from the five medical schools in Georgia go to other states for their residencies. Where new physicians complete their residency then becomes the largest factor in deciding where they will practice, so most do not return home, Augusta University President Brooks Keel, Ph.D., said in an interview in Statesboro last week.

He is seeking support from state lawmakers and the public for the Medical College of Georgia’s plan to place newly educated physicians in rural communities in Georgia and eliminate much of their student debt load. Even at MCG, which has the lowest tuition for in-state students of any medical school in Georgia, student loan debt averages $150,000 to $200,000 by the time a new physician graduates, Keel said.

So far, Augusta University has been allotted $500,000 for continued planning in this year’s state budget, and Keel said Gov. Brian Kemp has been “tremendously supportive.” Philanthropic and corporate support will also be sought, said Keel, who suggested that communities will need “buy-in,” such as providing a building for a medical practice or having a car dealership furnish a car for a new doctor.

Warner Robins Election Superintendent Michelle Riley addressed challenges to two city council candidates, according to the Macon Telegraph.

After a hearing earlier this week, City Election Superintendent Michelle Riley found that Zachary Adam Collins is not qualified to seek the post, according to a city of Warner Robins news release.

Another candidate, Eric Langston, also challenged due to residency, was found to be qualified to run after a separate hearing earlier this week.

Columbus Mayor Skip Henderson raised the possibility of an active campaign against a regional sales tax for transportation, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

In order to keep the transportation tax from competing head-to-head with a new local sales tax set to appear on the ballot for Muscogee voters next fall, Henderson asked leaders from 15 neighboring counties to consider delaying a vote until 2021 or 2022.

The region has the option to put the transportation tax on the ballot in 2020, and again in 2022, should it fail.

Henderson made the comments Wednesday morning during a meeting of the River Valley Regional Transportation Roundtable. He said Muscogee County has an “overwhelming critical need” to replace the government center, which will cost anywhere from $100 million to $150 million.

To do that, council will ask voters to approve a 1% sales tax as opposed to issuing debt, the financial burden of which would fall on property owners.

But if it ends up head-to-head on the 2020 ballot with the county’s local tax (called special purpose local option sales tax or SPLOST), it would put the council in an “awkward position” to “actively campaign against the TSPLOST,” Henderson said.

The Floyd County Democratic Party will host an event Saturday, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Republican Matt Reeves will run again for State Senate District 48, according to the Forsyth Herald.

Reeves was the 2018 Republican candidate for the seat, which represents parts of Duluth, Johns Creek, Suwanee, Peachtree Corners and Berkeley Lake. He lost to Democrat Zahra Karinshak 53.6 percent to 46.4 percent.

“First, I want to thank the over 30,000 citizens who voted for me last cycle, and I will continue to keep reaching out to voters who didn’t,” Reeves said. “If you want a bipartisan problem-solver focused on health care, our schools, keeping our community safe and fiscal conservatism, then I’m your candidate.”

“I care deeply about our families, homeowners, working people, and small businesses and will fight hard in the State Senate for our values and quality of life, working with our local elected officials,” Reeves said. “We are going to work hard to raise money and bring our message to all the voters in District 48 in 2020.”

Reeves could be running for an open seat. Karinshak announced earlier this month she intends to run for U.S. House District 7.

My favorite headline of the week comes from the Cherokee Tribune & Ledger News: Lawn parking dispute leads to aggravated assault arrest

A 70-year-old Woodstock man was jailed Saturday after he allegedly pulled a gun on a man he had reportedly ordered to get off his lawn.

Malone then told the deputy that visitors to a nearby house had parked on his lawn, which he pays to have maintained. He said he went over to the house and asked the woman who lives there to have the vehicles removed from his lawn.

The 80-year-old woman who owns the house told a deputy she was hosting a family reunion and that Malone was yelling and using profanity, including in front of children.

The AJC looks at why some municipalities in Georgia are sticking with paper ballots for local elections.

[I]n Chattahoochee Hills and about 70 other cities, residents vote using paper ballots. In many of those cities, the votes are even tallied by hand.

On election night in Chattahoochee Hills, residents can pile into City Hall to watch City Clerk Dana Wicher and a handful of poll workers open a locked metal ballot box and call out the names on each ballot. Like keeping score at a baseball game, they can even tally along.

“Folks like coming in and doing the paper ballots. It’s that old-town community feeling,” Wicher said. “There is some suspense. There’s probably more transparency with the paper system.”

Residents in six Georgia cities will even use mechanical lever machines during November’s elections. Those machines have been known to occasionally fail to record votes, and they lack the kind of paper trail provided by paper ballots. But they also avoid the risks of hacking inherent to computerized voting systems.

Kristi Ash, the elections superintendent in Loganville, said she expects this election will be the last one where residents vote on such machines. While they’re relatively reliable, she said only two people in the state know how to program the machines, and they are getting older. Residents often ask whether the city ever plans to update its technology.

[S]tate Sen. Jeff Mullis, a Chickamauga Republican who thought he won his first election to the state Senate, in 1998, by 23 votes. But when election officials conducted a recount, they found 151 additional paper ballots, with just six of those new votes being cast for Mullis.

“I am totally 100% against a handwritten paper ballot. It can be fraudulently done in a back room somewhere and added to the ballot box,” said Mullis, the chairman of the powerful Senate Rules Committee. “I’m glad we got the electronic machines because I think they’re very trustworthy.”

In Chattahoochee Hills, it cost $1,800 to run city elections in 2017; the cost to contract with Fulton County this fall would have been $6,722.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 4, 2019

PAWS Humane is a private animal shelter in Columbus, Georgia, that is helping house evacuated animals from Hurricane Dorian. Click here to donate online to PAWS Humane.

Sammi PAWS

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

Taffi PAWS

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

Taffy girl was adopted from PAWS as a tiny pup 2 years ago. Her owners had to recently return her due to their declining health. Taffy is still a pup in some ways. She likes to chew, so toys are friend when she has to be left alone. Squeaky toys are her favorite. She has a lot of playful energy, so an active family is ideal. Her previous owners told us that she likes other dogs, cats and children. They described her as loving, a good traveler and a people pleaser.

She is still working on potty training, and will once in a while make a bathroom mistake overnight. She does pace the floor or go to the door when she has to go outside. She is used to free roaming in the home during the day but is confined to a room when left alone. She loves outside play time, going for walks and traveling in the car. She is a night time cuddler and very affectionate. They began to teach her the following commands: sit, lay, stop, drop it, get it & take a nap (means to get in your bed). This girl has been spayed, microchipped and is up to date on vaccines.

Stormi PAWS

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


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 4, 2019

On September 4, 1682, Edmund Halley first sighted the comet that bears his name.

Scheduled steamship service first began on September 4, 1807, when Robert Fulton’s North River Steamboat began plying the trade on the Hudson River.

General William T. Sherman ordered all civilians out of Atlanta on September 4, 1864.

Vince Dooley was born on September 4, 1932. Happy birthday, coach!

Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called out National Guard troops to prevent the desegregation under court order of Little Rock’s Central High School on September 4, 1957.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Governor Brian Kemp has expanded the emergency declaration to now include 21 counties.

This morning, Governor Brian P. Kemp has issued an Executive Order expanding the State of Emergency declared on August 29, 2019 to include Appling, Bacon, Bulloch, Clinch, Echols, Evans, Screven, Tattnall, and Ware Counties.

Currently, there are twenty-one Georgia counties under a State of Emergency declaration. They are Appling, Bacon, Brantley, Bryan, Bulloch, Camden, Charlton, Chatham, Clinch, Echols, Effingham, Evans, Glynn, Liberty, Long, McIntosh, Pierce, Screven, Tattnall, Ware, and Wayne Counties.

For up-to-date information on Hurricane Dorian, visit Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security, call 1-800-TRY-GEMA (1-800-879-4362), or follow @GeorgiaEMA and @GovKemp.

State House District 71 voters will return to the polls in a Special Runoff Election featuring Philip Singleton (R – 36.84% – 1843 votes) and Marcy Westmoreland Sakrison (R – 34.20% – 1711 votes).

Bulloch County continues preparing for Hurrican Dorian, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Hurricane Dorian was shifting westward, moving closer to the United States coast late Tuesday afternoon and disturbing earlier predictions that the storm may move away to the northeast, said Bulloch County Public Safety Director Ted Wynn.

However, although Savannah and South Carolina are “back in the cone,” no one yet knows what the hurricane’s next move will be, he said.

“For now, we are preparing for a (Hurricane) Matthew scenario.”

As evacuees flee from Savannah and other coastal areas, shelters and hotels are filling quickly. Justin Samples, marketing director for the Statesboro Convention and Visitors Bureau, said Tuesday that area hotels are primarily full.

“We have some cancellations that are immediately filled with new reservations,” he said.

Camden County has initiated a curfew in preparation for Dorian’s landfall, according to The Brunswick News.

A curfew from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. beginning Tuesday has been imposed in Camden County for all areas east of Interstate 95.

The curfew, in effect until further notice, means increased law enforcement will be in place to ensure the safety of property for residents who have evacuated in advance of Hurricane Dorian.

Individuals can expect to be stopped and checked by authorities if they are traveling in the mandatory evacuation area.

Cumberland Island National Seashore are closed in anticipation of potential impacts from Hurricane Dorian. The barrier island will remain closed until the storm has passed and damage assessments have been made.

All government offices in Camden County will remain closed through Thursday.

Camden County schools have cancelled classes through Thursday because of the uncertainty of the storm’s arrival and impacts to the region.

Dorian could affect wildlife in coastal Georgia, according to The Brunswick News.

The ocean already rose with vigorous waves to the edge of dune fields at high tide Tuesday, previewing likely heavy beach erosion and sand movement. That comes after the gradual rebuilding of dues laid waste by Irma’s tides.

“On the beach and the dunes, even though to the human eye it looks like a lot of damage — we did have some dunes washed away, and thank goodness they were there to protect everything that lies behind them,” Ben Carswell, JIA conservation director, said Aug. 29. “But wildlife and plant communities have adapted over hundreds of thousands of years to these major disturbances. The dunes, that sand doesn’t wash too far away, and they start building back up pretty remarkably quickly.”

Sea turtle conservationists have been busy for days preparing for the eventual arrival of Dorian — there are still nests in the sand that have yet to hatch.

Haley Watkins at Sea Island reported Aug. 31 that staff inventoried 13 nests and left 18 nests on the beach to continue incubation. Workers on all the barrier islands have been busy removing screens from nests and pulling up stakes from inactive nests. Caleigh Quick on Ossabaw Island reported Aug. 30 they pulled 99 screens and inventoried 11 nests.

Dorian could have a significant effect on sea turtle hatching numbers by the time it’s all over. Irma went through the area in the second week of September 2017, and tides and storms accounted for around two-thirds of all nest losses in Georgia for that year, with 481 nests — 21.9 percent — lost. The losses were 12.4 percent on Jekyll, 24.6 percent on Cumberland, 4.4 percent on Little Cumberland Island and 9 percent on Little St. Simons Island. There was only one nest lost on Sea Island for the year, according to

Chatham County Sheriff’s deputies will work with Chatham County police, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Chatham County Sheriff John Wilcher said today he has brought all of his deputies assigned to street duties and the Chatham County courthouses to assist Chatham County police in maintaining law and order during the duration of Hurricane Dorian.

Begining today, that will add 60 certified officers who will work in two 12-hour shifts with their county police counterparts, Wilcher said, adding that he and Chatham County Police Chief Jeff Hadley have a great working relationship and remain on board in their planning.

Another 18 deputies in training with jail duties are being assigned to assist the jail staff.

In addition, the sheriff will feed those officers and give them a place to sleep in a refurbished, but unoccupied, area of the jail, Wilcher said, adding that will accommodate 427 people.

Wilcher also reported that he will continue to house the 1,862 inmates now in the jail with no plans to evacuate them.

Chatham County reiterated warnings about evacuating, according to the Savannah Morning News.

“I would say to the folk out there though, if your street homes flooded during Matthew, you should pretty much expect you’re going to flood in Dorian, and you’re encouraged to leave,” County Commission Chairman Al Scott said at a 1 p.m. press conference at the Coastal Georgia Botanical Gardens at the Historic Bamboo Farm.

Gov. Brian Kemp on Sunday announced an evacuation for coastal Georgia east of I-95, an area in Chatham County that is designated as zones A and B. That evacuation began Monday, with I-16 converted to a contraflow west from Savannah to Dublin at 8 a.m. Tuesday. Scott said he wasn’t planning to call for an evacuation west of I-95 unless the storm path shifted.

“It will be off the coast of Georgia, roughly in the next 36 hours, which is a very dangerous time for us,” Scott said. “No one can predict whether or not that storm with the stall off the coast of Georgia or whether or not it drifts to the left. That’s the worst case for Chatham County.”

Chatham Emergency Management Agency Director Dennis Jones said “tropical storm force winds are projected to pass through Chatham County sometime Wednesday into Thursday.”

“Rainfall and flooding with inundation three feet or higher above ground is expected,” he said. “We could have upwards of four to seven feet of storm surge. The high tide sequence is also significant for us. We’re looking at a high tide over 11 feet over two different time periods. One of them is one o’clock tomorrow. The other one is going to be 1am on Thursday.”

Savannah homeless advocates are working to get homeless people evacuated ahead of Dorian, according to the Savannah Morning News.

As Hurricane Dorian makes its way toward Savannah Wednesday, Cindy Murphy Kelley said she has been repeatedly visiting the camps and other sites where homeless gather to try and get them to leave town ahead of the storm.

“Unfortunately we have some folks who will kind of hunker on down,” the executive director of the Chatham Savannah Authority for the Homeless said. “We can’t make them go.” According to a recent census, Savannah has about 700 chronically homeless people on any given day.

Kelley said her efforts began last week as the hurricane started its trek toward the Bahamas and then Florida, including sending out fliers urging the homeless population to leave.

She praised the efforts of City of Savannah, police officers, firefighters and volunteers for their efforts there, adding that the Salvation Army provided meals for volunteers.

Chatham residents without transportation are being evacuated by bus, according to the Savannah Morning News.

They came by CAT bus and car and on foot to evacuate from Chatham County by charter bus. By about 8 a.m. Tuesday hundreds of people were gathered at the Savannah Civic Center to get a free ride to an inland shelter.

A line of people and luggage snaked across the front of the building and down the sidewalk to the corner with Liberty Street, resigned to biding their time in the muggy pre-storm weather.

About 130 staffers including 25 volunteers were running the evacuation assembly area at the Civic Center, said Chatham County Police spokeswoman Betsy Nolen. The county chartered 56 buses to convoy 16 at a time to shelters in Augusta. The same buses will return evacuees after the storm.

During Irma about 2,300 local residents took advantage of the free service, available to residents without their own form of transportation to evacuate. Pets are welcome if they have proof of vaccination and are crated. No pets were in evidence by 8 a.m., however.

Bus evacuations from the Civic Center were scheduled to continue until 6 p.m. Tuesday.

A Red Cross shelter in Macon is hosting almost 100 coastal evacuees, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Nearly 100 evacuees from Georgia’s coast have settled in at an American Red Cross emergency shelter in south Macon after many began arriving Monday to escape the likely path of slow-churning Hurricane Dorian.

As of late Tuesday afternoon, the shelter inside the South Bibb Recreation Center at 7035 Houston Road just south of Sardis Church Road was housing upward of 90 displaced residents, many from Glynn and Liberty counties in southeast Georgia.

Roughly a third of those at the shelter were described as people with medical needs and they were brought in by bus. Others traveled on their own, said shelter manager Stephen Pollitt.

Meanwhile, United Way of Central Georgia said its 2-1-1 Contact Center will continue to operate 24-hours a day, 7 days a week during Hurricane Dorian.

Evacuees can call 2-1-1 or text DorianGA to 898-211 to access information on food, shelter, and emergency relief services available in our area, according to a news release.

“We are deeply concerned about our neighbors fleeing the storm destined for the East Coast,” said George McCanless, President and CEO of United Way of Central Georgia. “Before, during, and after the storm, our 2-1-1 Contact Center is here to help our communities recover and rebuild. We want to spread the word, so people know, they can make a free call or text to get the help they need.”

A Red Cross shelter in Columbus has more than 240 evacuees, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The American Red Cross of West Central Georgia, in partnership with the city, began using the civic center as a shelter Monday night. It opened just hours before the first busload of evacuees arrived, said Adelaide Kirk, executive director, Red Cross of West Central Georgia.

As of Tuesday afternoon, around 240 people were being housed at the shelter. Six buses had already dropped off evacuees, and at least one more bus was expected Tuesday. The civic center could hold 800 to 1,000 evacuees, Kirk said.

Pet evacuees could also be arriving in Columbus. Paws Humane Society at 4900 Milgen Road is housing pets, according to the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency. It’s unclear how many evacuee pets have arrived in Columbus.

Nearly all of the people currently housed at the civic center are residents who couldn’t have left without assistance, but the shelter is open to all Dorian evacuees. All of the evacuees the civic center Tuesday afternoon were from Glynn County in southeast Georgia, Kirk said. The county is home to St. Simons Island and the city of Brunswick.

Augusta hotels are filling with evacuees, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Being “two hours from the beach” is a key quality-of-life attribute for metro Augusta residents. But it’s also a highly desirable distinction for tens of thousands of coastal evacuees during a hurricane.

And Hurricane Dorian is proving to be no exception. Area hotels are beginning to fill up with residents from Savannah, Ga., Charleston, S.C. and other coastal communities in its path.

“People understand Augusta is far enough away, but not too far,” said Tijuana Jenkins, general manager of The Partridge Inn. “Augusta has the recognition and the (hotel) bandwidth for people who don’t want to travel too far.”

The region’s inventory of 7,200 hotel rooms gives it the ability to handle more than 22,000 visitors, assuming an occupancy of three people per room. The actual number of visitors could be much higher because of evacuees staying in shelters, with friends and family or at homes or rooms rented through third-party services such as Airbnb.

Governor Kemp wants state agency heads to skip House budget hearings, according to the AJC.

Legislative plans are to send out letters to state agency directors asking them to copy House and Senate leaders on their proposals to deal with the 4% budget cuts Kemp is requiring this year and 6% next year. House Appropriations Chairman Terry England, R-Auburn, said he hoped to invite department heads to attend the Sept. 26-27 hearings to discuss what they propose to cut.

But the Kemp administration will tell agencies to ignore those requests, saying it wants to consider the proposals like it would any other budget plans, without legislative interference.

Kemp said the state would begin withholding money from agencies starting Oct 1.

Some massive enrollment-driven programs — such as k-12 schools, universities and Medicaid, the health care program for the poor and disabled — are exempt from the cuts.

In all, only about 23% of the state-funded portion of the budget was not exempted, but that still leaves several agencies on the hook for cuts, including the departments of Agriculture, Corrections, Driver Services, Public Health, public defenders, the Georgia State Patrol, the GBI, most of the Department of Natural Resources, and the administration of k-12 schools and colleges.

“We will work to take the governor’s concerns about a slowing economy into account as we begin this important work, and we look forward to working with Governor Kemp’s staff, state agency heads and economists to determine the prudent way forward,” England said last week.

But the Kemp administration plans to make clear it won’t participate, and neither will the people it has appointed to run state agencies.

Nick Conner may step off the Whitfield County SPLOST committee after qualifying for Cohutta Town Council, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Conner qualified on Friday for the November election for the Cohutta Town Council, one of four candidates seeking two seats on the council.

A bylaw of the SPLOST committee says a member can “not currently (be) an elected official nor expected to be a candidate for an election during the term of service.” The committee is expected to meet at least through mid-November.

Conner said it would be “understandable” if he is now removed from the SPLOST committee.

“There would be no negative feelings,” he said. “I understand their point of things. When I filled out the application form I said that I planned to run. But if it means resigning from the SPLOST committee, to better serve my town, that’s what I will do.”

Whitfield County Board of Commissioners Chairman Lynn Laughter said Conner became ineligible for the 16-member committee when he qualified to run for office, and his position will be filled by county alternate Micheal E. Kelley II.

Groundbreaking for a new Georgia State Patrol post in Suwanee was held, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Local elected officials, members of law enforcement, contractors and engineers celebrated the “groundbreaking” of a roughly $5 million Georgia State Patrol facility that will serve as a command post for 16 troopers and a HERO Unit along the Interstate 85 corridor in Suwanee.

“I’ve seen their (temporary) facilities on Plaster Avenue, and it’s been a great holding place for the time being, but this will be a much better spot,” Georgia State Patrol Public Information Officer Stephanie Stallings said. “One of the big words we heard today was teamwork, and that’s exactly what this is. There was huge teamwork today between the Gwinnett County commissioners — we’re so thankful for them to see the project through as well as DOT — and for us to be on board and to get the benefits of this building will be fantastic for Post 51-Gwinnett.”

State Rep. Eddie Lumsden (R-Rome) discussed the House Rural Development Council, according to the Rome News Tribune.

The House Rural Development Council will focus on jobs and high-speed internet access next week when it holds its second of five scheduled meetings this year.

This is the third year Rep. Eddie Lumsden, R-Armuchee, has served on the council, which was established to address the economic disparity between rural and urban counties in Georgia.

He gave as an example the proposal to expand telemedicine. That would ease the doctor shortage that makes industries shy away from rural areas and leads their young people to head for bigger cities.

“But you need rural broadband,” Lumsden said. “If you don’t have good access, how does that expand healthcare? And education — we have broadband at all the schools but students don’t have it at home.”

“Education is the cornerstone to building a more robust economy in any community, so it’s essential to begin this year’s work by examining the educational needs in our rural Georgia areas,” Lumsden said.

Floyd County is adding a parental accountability court, according to the Rome News Tribune.

Laura Lee, the regional child support services program director, said Floyd County has started a parental accountability court that targets chronic non-payers, many of whom have been in jail multiple times for failure to make support payments.

The court will have workers available to work one-on-one with the adult to “help them find work, help them find job skills, whatever barriers they may have.”

Floyd Superior Court Judge Kay Ann Wetherington will preside over the parental accountability court.

The child support recovery program served 5,487 children in Floyd County during FY 2018 — 4,288 are being served today.

A primary focus for the court’s programs is to help non-custodial parents find employment that would help them keep child support payments up-to-date.

Cornelia City Commission added a “Brunch Bill” referendum to the November 5, 2019 ballot, according to AccessWDUN.

Tuesday night, the city commission voted to place the “Brunch Bill” issue on the Nov. 5 municipal election ballot.

“The Brunch Bill is new legislation that was adopted last year, and it allows for the city to hold a referendum and let the voters decide whether or not restaurants can start serving alcohol beginning at 11 a.m. on Sunday mornings,” said City Manager Donald Anderson. “Currently, they can’t do it until 12:30 p.m., so tonight the commissioners adopted a resolution to instruct the county elections superintendent to do a call for this referendum to be held on Nov. 5 to let the voters decide.”

Also appearing on the city ballot Nov. 5 is a contested race for the Ward 1 City Commission seat. Incumbent Wesley A. Dodd Jr. will face Cornelia resident Mark Reed, a previous mayor of Baldwin.

Additionally, city voters, like those throughout Habersham County, will vote Nov. 5 on whether the county should issue $31.7 million in jail bonds to finance construction of a 314-bed jail to keep pace with the county’s growth.

Columbia County Commissioners voted to approve a rezoning for a new solar farm, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The project has caused debate among residents who are concerned about how it could affect property values, the environment and aesthetics.

The planning commission approved the rezoning Aug. 15 on the condition that the developer include at least a 25-foot buffer and provide a plat showing the portion of the property to be rezoned. The developer said there is not much data about how property values could be affected but that the land will be returned to its natural state at the end of the lease.

Residents questioned commissioners Tuesday about why they have not set a limit of how many solar farms can be built. The county has previously approved projects on Yelton Road and Ridge Road in Appling and on Parham Road in Grovetown.

“This commission has been very cognizant of the fact that we want to make sure that the landowners have the ability to do what they want to do with their property within reason, but we want to make sure we have what’s called smart growth,” county administrator Scott Johnson said.

A new record high toll rate was set on I-85, according to the AJC.

The cost to use the lanes between Old Peachtree Road to Shallowford Road hit a record $16.60 and promptly rose to $16.90 before topping out at an even $17, according to the State Road and Tollway Authority.

The previous record, set in August 2018, was $15.50.