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Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 13, 2018

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

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

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

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Vice President Mike Pence canceled his trip to Atlanta ahead of Hurricane Florence, according to the AJC.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 12, 2018

Sasha Walton

Sasha is a year-old, 65-pound female German Shepherd Dog who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA. She will need to be spayed, and she’ll need an understanding home that can help her feel safe.

Sky Walton

Sky is a 3-4 year old, 80-pound female Labrador Retriever mix who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.

Oreo Walton

Oreo is a 3-4 year old, 65-pound mixed breed male dog who is available for adoption from Walton County Animal Control in Monroe, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 12, 2018

James Oglethorpe arrived at Augusta on September 12, 1739, 279 years ago today.

French troops arrived near Savannah to prepare for a siege against British forces there on September 12, 1779.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

Entrepreneur Don Panoz has died, according to Jalopnik.

Panoz was instrumental to the growth of American sports car and open wheel racing over the course of the last 20 years, having founded the American Le Mans Series in 1998. While the sport was desperate for leadership in the late ‘90s, Don stepped up to the table and created a path forward.

Don’s early successes were found in the pharmaceuticals industry, where he got his start operating a pair of drug stores in the Pittsburgh area. He later started Milan Pharmaceuticals with Milan Puskar in 1961. While heading a research group at Milan, he developed a transdermal method of time-release medication with myriad uses. When the company refused to invest in the technology, he moved to Ireland to start his own company for the purpose of developing and distributing his invention, the nicotine patch.

Panoz is survived by his wife Nancy; sons Dan and Chris; daughters Donna, Dena, Lisa, and Andrea, as well as many grandchildren and great grandchildren.

Panoz was also the founder of Chateau Elan.

Steve Foster, the Democratic candidate for Congress in the 14th district, was denied bond while he appeals his DUI conviction, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

Foster, who is the Democratic candidate for the 14th Congressional seat currently held by Rep. Tom Graves, R-Ranger, could be heard saying “waste of time” as he was escorted out the courtroom by Whitfield County Sheriff’s Office deputies. He did not address Morris.

Foster was sentenced on Aug. 14 to six months to serve in jail and six months on probation after a jury found him guilty of DUI in September of 2017. In video and audio of the arrest released after the trial, Foster rambles and rants through the arrest, a trip to the hospital and eventual booking into the Whitfield County jail.

With Morris’ ruling, it is now more than likely that Foster will be in the custody of the Catoosa County jail on the Nov. 6 Election Day. Because Foster’s conviction is a misdemeanor offense, Foster remains on the ballot as state law says only a felony conviction would bar him from being on the ballot. Foster says he will not drop out of the race.

The Augusta Chronicle discusses five Constitutional Amendments and two statewide referendums on November’s ballot.

The first amendment creates the Georgia Outdoor Stewardship Trust Fund, to which up to 80 percent of sales taxes collected at sporting goods stores, including gun stores, would be redirected.

The second amendment creates a “state-wide business court” with statewide jurisdiction in an effort to streamline and improve handling of business cases.

The third amendment changes the rules for assessing the value of forest land for property tax purposes and allows the state revenue commissioner to collect up to five percent of forest conservation grants to cover certain costs.

The fifth amendment affects counties with more than one school system and allows the system with the most students to call for a sales tax referendum to fund school construction without getting approval from the smaller system.

Brian Kemp (R) and Stacey Abrams (D) will meet in two gubernatorial debates, according to the Associated Press.

Republican Brian Kemp and Democrat Stacey Abrams announced Tuesday that they will meet Oct. 23 in a debate sponsored by the Atlanta Press Club and broadcast by Georgia Public Broadcasting. They will follow that with a Nov. 4 debate broadcast by WSB-TV in Atlanta.

Marty Kemp, wife of Republican candidate Brian Kemp, spoke in Troup County yesterday, according to the LaGrange Daily News.

“If all of y’all go out there and challenge four people, I think it will be done,” Kemp said.

Kemp said she and her husband are visiting every county. Kemp also encouraged everyone in attendance to volunteer, whether that meant making signs or phone calls.

“We will visit every county, see every group, every neighborhood, anywhere y’all want us to go and see individuals,” Kemp said. “Our biggest thing is to get the vote out. We’ve got to get everybody out and all the way down the ticket. We’ve got to start from the top and go all the way down. Don’t forget about the smaller races because every race is just critical right now.”

A Congressional spending plan would devote $49 million to the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project, according to the AJC.

A group of House and Senate negotiators unveiled a $147.5 billion spending bill on Monday evening that sets aside $49 million in new federal money for the dredging project.

Work to deepen the harbor from 42 to 47 feet hit its midpoint earlier this year, with full completion expected in late 2021. The nearly $1 billion venture will allow the port to accommodate larger cargo ships from the recently-expanded Panama Canal, which boosters say would be a major economic boon to the region.

The state has already committed hundreds of millions of dollars to the project, but the nearly $680 million in previously-promised federal funds have been slower to come. A breakthrough came in June, when the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers announced it was setting aside a record $85 million for the project in its 2018 work plan.

“Clearly [the port expansion] , with the highest [return on investment] of any project of its type, should be strongly considered for further investment to ensure timely completion,” said Jamie McCurry, chief administrative officer for the Georgia Ports Authority.

“I will continue fighting for additional federal support and working to ensure President Trump, the administration and the Corps again realize the critical importance of this project,” said Buddy Carter, R-Pooler, whose U.S. House district includes the port.

Rome City Commissioners are considering how to serve an increasingly bilingual population, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Mosaic report found Latinos account for the majority of the city’s growth since 1990 and now make up 16 percent of the population. Estimates are that a tenth of Rome’s residents are foreign-born and about 7 percent have limited English proficiency.

Community Development Director Bekki Fox said more federal programs are requiring bilingual documents, and the state wants to see a communication plan. She also said there’s a need for more Spanish-speaking employees — giving as example a recent case where parents applying to buy one of the city’s HOMEBuild affordable houses relied on their child to translate mortgage details.

“I think, not just for our department, it has to be an issue for the police department, the water department and others,” Fox said.

“The challenge to the city of Rome is, we represent all populations — even those who are generally not heard,” Mayor Jamie Doss said.

Gwinnett County is seeing increasing multifamily development, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Interest from developers in doing multifamily housing projects in Gwinnett has been on the rise in recent years, just as urbanization projects centered around activity hubs begins to take off in the county.

“I think there’s a bit more appetite from the leadership standpoint, the elected leadership standpoint, as long as they’re in the right place,” Warbington said. “Being near major transportation corridors or the Mall of Georgia, Infinite Energy Center, downtown Duluth or downtown Lawrenceville — being near activity centers.

“I think developers have seen that density is not a bad word around activity center and I think that’s kind of what you’re seeing with most of these multifamily (projects).”

One of the trends going in Gwinnett County right now is dense urbanized development around or near activity centers, such as the Infinite Energy Center, the Lawrenceville Lawn, downtown Duluth, Suwanee Town Center, the Mall of Georgia, Sugarloaf Mills and Gwinnett Place Mall.

Some of the projects have gotten a lot of publicity, such as North American Properties’ Revel development at Infinite Energy Center or Lawrenceville’s SouthLawn development.

Glynn County has issued a health advisory to avoid going in the water at a St Simons Island beach because of bacteria levels, according to the Brunswick News.

Augusta Commissioners discussed ambulance fees and garbage service, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The Public Safety Committee approved charging $1,150 to transport someone and $16.50 a mile on top of that. Those treated at the scene and not transported would be charged $200. Augusta Fire Chief Chris James said research showed that the fees of other companies were “considerably higher.” Those charges would apply regardless of whether Augusta becomes the designated provider in ambulances his department is already running.

Any subcontractor that’s part of Augusta’s bid would also have to use the fee system. James said the city would use a billing service but wouldn’t send those who cannot pay to a collection agency and not back bill if insurance companies do not pay the whole bill. The service would also accept whatever charges Medicare and Medicaid pay.

The City of Brunswick and Glynn County will now send two separate tax bills to property owners, according to The Brunswick News.

City bills will be sent Monday, while county officials said their bills will go out Friday.

“We want to make sure people understand they’ll get two bills,” Edwards said Tuesday. “They can’t pick and choose — one is for the city and one is for the county.”

The dual bills are a new development. City commissioners voted in December 2017 to sever ties with the Glynn County Tax Commissioner and hire an in-house city tax collector. It is the first time in about 15 years the city has collected its own taxes.

City tax bills must be paid within 60 days of the mailing. After that, the debt will begin accruing interest at a rate of 0.075 percent. Partial payments are not allowed; debt must be paid in full.

Jim Drumm, city manager, has previously told The News in-house collections will save the city about $50,000 annually.

The Macon Water Authority held a ceremony to start a $40 million dollar waste water project, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The City of Big Brother Senoia is deploying a new camera system that integrates body cams and car cams, according to the Newnan Times-Herald.

Nydia Tisdale will appeal her conviction for obstruction to the Georgia Supreme Court, according to the Gainesville Times.

Four years after her arrest at a campaign rally and nine months after she was found guilty of misdemeanor obstruction of an officer, Nydia Tisdale plans to appeal after her motion for a new trial was denied by a Dawson County Superior Court judge.

The self-proclaimed citizen journalist was sentenced Dec. 18 to serve 12 months of probation, 40 hours of community service and pay a $1,000 fine for her August 2014 altercation with a Dawson County law enforcement officer.

Tisdale was sentenced under Georgia’s First Time Offenders Act, meaning if she completes the sentence without issue, her record would be cleared.

Tisdale was found not guilty of felony obstruction of an officer and misdemeanor criminal trespass. The charges stemmed from her forced removal from Burt’s Pumpkin Farm in Dawsonville at a Aug. 23, 2014, Republican Party campaign rally attended by statewide officeholders including Gov. Nathan Deal, U.S. Rep. Doug Collins and Insurance Commissioner Ralph Hudgens.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 11, 2018

Statesboro Police Department has the cutest new recruit – a Bloodhound puppy has joined the force, according to the Statesboro Herald.

Local dog trainer and breeder Michael Duncan, a former law enforcement officer, donated the pup to the Statesboro Police Department because “they didn’t have a dog just for tracking,” he said. “I live in this town, and I hope to one day see a headline that Red’s pup helped find a missing child or someone who wandered away from a nursing home.”

The pup isn’t just an everyday bloodhound. His sire is K9 Red, Duncan’s personal tracking dog that has become a local celebrity. Red has an impressive record when it comes to tracking people, and several regional law enforcement and other agencies across the Southeast contract Red and Duncan on a regular basis to help find lost children, missing persons or fugitives from the law.

“Over the last couple of weeks, meetings and conversations have taken place with Chief Mike Broadhead and Deputy Chief Rob Bryan of the Statesboro Police Department. During these meetings, I decided to donate and train a bloodhound puppy from K9 Red’s recent litter,” Duncan said. “This will be the first bloodhound for the Statesboro Police Department and its duties will be single- purpose tracking of criminals, missing children and elderly subjects that are lost.”

The department is taking suggestions from the public via its Facebook page on what to name the little fellow, and three of the top names will be submitted for a final public vote, he said.

Bear Bloodhound

Bear is a 5-year old, 130-pound male Bloodhound who is available for adoption from Southeast Bloodhound Rescue in Carrollton, GA.

Nell Bloodhound

Nell is a senior female Bloodhound who is available for adoption from Southeast Bloodhound Rescue in Carrollton, GA.

Renee Bloodhound

Renee is a female Catahould Leopard Dog and Bloodhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Madison Oglethorpe Animal Shelter in Danielsville, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 11, 2018

911 memorial 2

I was in my car that morning, on the way to my job when I heard on the radio of the first plane hitting. The announcers thought at first that it must be a small plane and likely an accident. Seventeen minutes later all doubt vanished as the second hit. Over the next hour, a third plane hit the Pentagon and a fourth went down in a field in Pennsylvania. We watched on television as the towers burned, then collapsed.

Shortly afterwards, the Family Room opened in a nearby tower to provide a place for loved ones to grieve out of the public eye.

The Family Room opened in April 2002 in space donated by Brookfield Office Properties, the owners of 1 Liberty Plaza, across Church Street from the trade center site. By presenting what was known as a medical examiner’s family identification card, victims’ relatives were admitted during regular workdays and at night, on weekends and on holidays.

On the 20th floor, behind a door marked “The Family Room,” relatives could settle into ample leather couches or stand at windows 15 and 20 feet wide. The room was intended for “quiet contemplation,” said a 2002 notice from the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, which created and maintained the space, just a few doors down from its own headquarters and those of the National September 11 Memorial & Museum at the World Trade Center Foundation.

When the Family Room at 1 Liberty Plaza was replaced this summer by a new private gathering space in the National September 11 Memorial Museum pavilion, the [New York] State Museum and the memorial museum painstakingly documented the older room, and the State Museum acquired what contents family members themselves did not choose to reclaim.

There are materials in the Family Room collection related to about 1,000 victims, Mr. Schaming said, or roughly one-third of all casualties that day. “It is the most singular collection of the faces of people who were killed on 9/11,” he said.

A monument on Long Island to victims of 9-11 will include the names of 582 people who later died of conditions related to the aftermath of the attacks.

A separate plaque will have the names of 582 police officers, firefighters, construction workers, cleanup volunteers and others who spent time in the rubble of the World Trade Center in the days or months after the attacks and, years later, died of a variety of causes that they, their families or their doctors suspected were linked to toxic ash and smoke at the site. There will be room to add more names.

“I think what the town of Hempstead is doing is nothing short of honorable,” said John Feal, a longtime advocate for 9/11 responders with health problems. “People who lost a loved one to illness suffer just like someone lost on that day. Hopefully this will offer some ease and comfort to them.”

In May, officials at the National September 11 Memorial & Museum announced plans to set aside a commemorative space at the World Trade Center to honor rescue and recovery workers.

New York’s police and fire departments also have memorials for personnel who have died of illnesses since Sept. 11. A 9/11 memorial in Staten Island recently added a plaque with the names of residents there who have died of illnesses.

Feal’s charitable organization also maintains a memorial wall to 9/11 responders in Nesconset, New York.

One day after Perry’s victory in the Battle of Lake Erie, American Master Commandant Thomas Macdonough led American forces in the Battle of Plattsburg at Lake Champlain, New York on September 11, 1813.

The Union Army began evacuating civilians from Atlanta via Lovejoy’s Station on September 11, 1864.

Georgia-born Ty Cobb took his last at-bat on September 11, 1928.

After a week-long Presidential campaign swing through ten states, former Governor Jimmy Carter returned to Plains on September 11, 1976.

On September 11, 1985, Pete Rose broke Ty Cobb’s career hit record, notching number 4,192 against the San Diego Padres.

One year ago today, all 159 counties in Georgia were under an emergency declaration from Hurricane Irma.

Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections

United States District Court Judge Amy Totenberg will hear arguments on whether to require paper ballots for November elections, according to the AJC.

Georgia Secretary of State Brian Kemp, the defendant in the case, strongly opposes a quick move away from the voting system in place since 2002. He said electronic voting machines are secure and that a rushed transition to paper would result in a less trustworthy election system.

But Donna Curling, the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit, said Georgia’s electronic voting machines are inherently unsafe. If voting machines were penetrated by hackers, malicious code could rig elections, she said.

The judge will have to consider, among other things, fundamental voting rights and the feasibility of printing paper ballots for Georgia’s 6.7 million registered voters.

Kemp, who supports a transition to paper ballots in time for the 2020 presidential election, said it would be irresponsible to force voters into an election crisis. He warned that early-voting locations would close in Fulton County because of staffing shortages, paper ballots couldn’t be delivered in time in Cobb County and no county has budgeted for the expense statewide.

“The fact is that Georgia’s voting machines are aging, but they have never been compromised,” said Kemp, the Republican nominee for governor facing Democrat Stacey Abrams in November. “The other side is great at grabbing headlines, but in court, they have no evidence to substantiate their claims.”

Governor Nathan Deal announced yesterday that state tax revenues were up 7 percent in August over the prior year.

Gov. Deal’s Chief of Staff Chris Riley spoke to the Gainesville Times about their time in office.

Riley said improving Georgia’s educational system has been a focus of the Deal administration. The Hope scholarship was heading into bankruptcy, and state officials traveled throughout Georgia to speak with colleges about how the program could be reformed, passing recommendations to keep the program going, he said.

Then in May, Deal signed off on a budget that fully funded Georgia’s Quality Basic Education program, which is used to determine dollars sent to each district, for the first time since the program began in 1985.

And when Deal, took office, his administration had the challenging task of dealing with a budget crisis in the fallout of the economic recession. In 2011, the state’s rainy day fund was $116 million, Riley said.

“This is cash in the bank. That’s enough to operate the state of Georgia for two days,” he said. “That first year, we literally cash flowed the state of Georgia.”

Riley said officials had to make some cuts to get the budget in order — the size of the state government was reduced by 10 percent by consolidating and streamlining state agencies. Reserves are now at $2.5 billion, Riley said.

The economy, particularly the manufacturing sector, has seen growth and has helped Georgians get back to work, Riley said. He said the unemployment rate was about 10 percent statewide in 2011. Now, that number is just below 4 percent.

Savannah has arranged for housing and meals in Perry for storm workers, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The city has only one category 3 rated structure in Savannah, the Industrial and Domestic water plant on Ga. 21, and that facility will only accommodate about 250 of the 1,700 employees the city could need to respond to such a storm, said David Donnelly, Savannah Emergency Management director.

As a result, the Savannah City Council recently approved a contract to house and feed those workers at an emergency response training facility in Perry in the event of a category 3 storm or above.

The Guardian Center is an 830-acre campus located about three hours from Savannah. The location is out of the impacted area, but close enough to get employees back into Savannah as quickly as possible, Donnelly said.

The cost to retain the facility annually is $12,500. If the city ended up using the center, it would cost $141.42 per person, per day, which represents at-cost expenses for the Guardian Center.

Democrat Stacey Abrams unveiled her healthcare plan at Grady Hospital, according to WJBF.

First, Medicaid expansion to reclaim the $8 million dollars per day that Georgia taxpayers have already paid in but can’t get back unless expansion is approved — this would help working families who can’t afford insurance and also help hospitals in rural Georgia stay open. It’s a move Vice President Mike Pence made as Governor of Indiana.

Abrams says she will also look at a federal waiver to try to stabilize and bring down Georgia premiums, which have risen 50 percent.

Another key part of the plan — maternal and infant healthcare, because Georgia has the highest maternal mortality rate in the United States.

Democrat Josh McCall, running against Republican Congressman Doug Collins, will host a forum on legalizing marijuana, according to AccessWDUN.

Josh McCall said in a press statement the meeting on Thursday, Sept. 13 will focus on  the economic, environmental, medical, criminal justice and legal aspects of legalization.

“I don’t smoke any illegal substance – never have. But I still believe that people should make their own decisions over what they do with their bodies, in the privacy of their own home,” McCall said. “I also support the medical community, and believe that doctors should have as many options as they need to provide proper care for their patients.”

State Senator Renee Unterman received the Georgia Municipal Association’s “Champion of Georgia Cities” award in Sugar Hill last night, according to a press release.

The City of Sugar Hill would like to congratulate Senator Renee Unterman on her receipt of the of the 2018 Champion of Georgia Cities Award from the Georgia Municipal Association. This award is given at the end of every two-year legislative term to state legislators who actively support major initiatives and goals.

The Georgia Municipal Association recognizes Senator Unterman for the efforts to help local governments have consistent control over home rule and to challenge legislation that attempts to thwart that control. Some examples of the legislation that Senator Unterman stood firm with were SB 469 Building Code Pre-emption and SB 418 Preemption of Retail Sales Regulation/Puppy Mills/Synthetic Opioids. This same legislation would have limited the control of local governments to regulate businesses such as pet stores that use puppy mills for inventory supply.

Senator Unterman is a fighter that protects the authority that allows Georgia’s cities to deliver quality of life services for their residents and works to expand economic opportunities across the state. She sponsored the Brunch Bill SB 18 which allows local governments to change Sunday alcohol sales hours through a ballot referendum.

The Mayor and City Council of Sugar Hill wish to thank Senator Unterman for defending Sugar Hill, Gwinnett County and all of the citizens of Georgia. Senate District 45 could not have a better leader in the State Legislature.

NOW, THEREFORE, the City of Sugar Hill Mayor and City Council extend congratulations to Senator Renee Unterman for being recognized as the 2018 Champion of Georgia Cities Award and request that all citizens join in recognizing September 10, 2018, as Senator Renee Unterman day in Sugar Hill.

Rome City Commission‘s Public Safety Committee will discuss a proposed smoking ban, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

Since a coalition of local healthcare professionals, agencies and nonprofits called Breatheasy Rome brought the idea to the board last month, commissioners have heard from a host of different interests.

[Commissioner Craig] McDaniel said a large percentage of restaurant workers smoke, which has employers concerned some would leave for competitors outside the city. There also are smokers who live and work downtown, he noted.

Commissioner Bill Collins said he’s heard from a business owner who thinks a ban would deter some customers and another who thinks it’s an overreach.

“He said ‘Why do y’all feel like you have to tell other people what they can and cannot do’ … These are the hurdles we face,” Collins said.

The Whitfield County Republican Party will hear about homeland security at its meeting tonight, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

the guest speaker will be Darren Webb, the resident agent in charge of Homeland Security Investigations in Dalton and a former United States Secret Service special agent.

State Sen. Bruce Thompson, R-White, who has worked closely with Homeland Security, will also speak. Together, they will provide valuable information pertaining to some of the most pressing issues of the day, immigration and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE).

Refreshments and fellowship time start at 6:30 p.m. and the meeting starts at 7.

Macon-Bibb County Commissioner Joe Allen wants to defund ten nonprofits and agencies, according to the Macon Telegraph.

One commissioner says his plan is to give those organizations enough time to find money to make up for the loss, which would total $762,200 among all the agencies. Another county leader, however, argues the focus should not be on removing money from entities such as the Middle Georgia Community Food Bank, Keep Macon-Bibb Beautiful and various cultural arts organizations.

Commissioner Joe Allen said Macon-Bibb government can no longer afford to pay money to certain agencies when the county will have to find $8 million next year to cover the Other-Post Employment Benefit fund, which covers some benefits, such as health care, for retirees.

“It’s not right for us to spend John Doe’s or Jane Doe’s money,” Allen said. “If they want to spend it, then let John Doe or Jane Doe spend it wherever they want to.”

Allen’s resolution calls for notifying the 10 organizations that they will not receive any funding in the next budget. The proposal is scheduled to be discussed at Tuesday’s commission committee meetings.

The Augusta Commission is still dealing with financial issues from Hurricane Irma last year, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

The city is seeking $428,246 in federal funding debris cleanup from Hurricane Irma, which wreaked minor havoc on the area almost exactly one year ago. Between Sept. 10 and Oct. 5, 2017, the city said it collected 10,487.9 cubic yards of “vegetative debris” from roads, public property and roadsides and hauled it to the landfill. That effort involved 74 employees working more than 571 hours, including 67 who put in 1,488 hours of overtime. The city estimates the total cleanup cost was more than $503,000 and would include more than $37,000 in state funds.

The largest item on the agenda for the Finance Committee won’t be quite as large as it first seemed and won’t obligate the county or state for anything. AU Health System’s 2018 bond series through the Development Authority of Augusta will come up for approval. While the series is listed as not to exceed $230 million, the actual amount will be much smaller at around $85 million, said Greg Damron, the chief financial officer for the health system.

About $35 million will go toward refinancing a bank loan from 2012 to fund capital projects such as renovating the old Dental College of Georgia building into its new Professional Office Building, which includes the Digestive Health Center, he said. Of the rest, about half would pay back a line of credit that financed projects such as a new transplant clinic and others underway, including renovating lab and pharmacy space for automation and moving the infectious disease program to a building on Chaffee Avenue, Damron said.

“There are a number of capital improvements in that last piece of the project that are ongoing right now,” he said. The money would not go toward building a hospital in Columbia County that the health system still plans once the state license to build it is free of appeals, Damron said.

The Muscogee County Board of Education considered increasing pay for bus drivers, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

The Muscogee County School Board discussed during its monthly work session Monday night a proposal to raise the pay and incentives for bus drivers in the wake of a shortage of drivers and an increase in the number of students needing transportation, resulting in an avalanche of complaints about students being picked up late or transported on overcrowded buses.

The proposal came from representatives John Thomas of District 2 and Frank Myers of District 8. They want the Muscogee County School District to raise the minimum pay for bus drivers to $17 per hour. That’s an increase of 16 percent from the current rate of $14.66 per hour.

“Thereafter, every bus driver employee shall be rewarded with a $1 raise per year for each year he or she serves the district,” the proposal says.

Yard debris pickup has slowed considerably in Macon-Bibb County, according to the Macon Telegraph.

Lilburn City Council revised their alcohol ordinance to allow liquor store owners to hold two licenses, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Oakwood City Council will hold three public meetings on a potential property tax millage rate, according to the Gainesville Times.

Oakwood is looking to keep its property tax rate the same in 2019, but that still could mean a slight tax increase for some residents.

The South Hall city is proposing a tax rate of 4.174 mills, with 1 mill equal to $1 per $1,000 in assessed property value.

However, for Oakwood to keep revenues at the same amount, the city would have to set the rate at 4.093 mills. At 4.174 mills, a home valued at $225,000 would have a tax bill that’s $7.29 higher than at 4.093 mills.

Still, those with higher property assessments could see higher tax bills. Those who saw assessments stay the same or go down will see tax bills likewise stay the same or go down.

Jason Souther was sworn in as an associate juvenile court judge for Whitfield County, according to the Dalton Daily Citizen.

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is investigating the dumping of my lunch hundreds of pounds of blue crabs in a local stream, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

Hundreds of blue crabs, a salt-water delicacy native to the waters of the western Atlantic Ocean and the Gulf of Mexico, were discovered Sunday night along the Chattahoochee RiverWalk in Bibb City.

Crabs such as the ones along the riverbank are much more likely to be found in restaurants. The market price for blue crabs in Panama City Beach on Monday was about $4 per pound. There were easily more than 1,000 of them, Franklin said. Because the crabs were whole, it could have been more than 500 pounds, bringing their value to about $2,000.


Gwinnett County Transit will begin operating door-to-door “microtransit” service next week, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

Gwinnett County Transit will begin offering bus service in the south Gwinnett community next week to get residents from their homes to medical and other types of appointments, shopping centers and other local destinations. It just won’t be the type of service residents might be used to seeing in Gwinnett.

It will be what county officials are calling “Microtransit,” a six-day-a-week door-to-door service that the county is trying out as a test program.

“As we developed our comprehensive transit plan earlier this year, we received a lot of community feedback that serving areas like Snellville needed to be a priority,” Gwinnett County Transit Division director Karen Winger said. “Since regular bus routes require more population density than Snellville has, we had to come up with another way to do it.

“Microtransit seemed to be the next best option. It’s flexible and comprehensive. We hope it will be a good fit.”

Since Microtransit is something new for the county, it is currently set to last six months in Snellville. At the end of that time, Gwinnett officials will put it on hiatus while they evaluate how it worked and whether it should be continued in Snellville.

Electric scooters are becoming a nuisance, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Last month, the city of Charleston banned the scooters after the upstart company Bird began dropping off the vehicles with no advance announcement. Officials in Athens are considering restrictions on the scooters that appeared there. The University of Georgia has even been impounding them, according to recent coverage in the Athens Banner-Herald.

Bird and its competitors are facing similar restrictions and legal hurdles in cities across the nation.

Largely because of concerns about safety, Savannah City Council is poised to approve an ordinance banning the scooters even before they arrive. According to a story by Savannah Morning News reporter Eric Curl, the ordinance “would prohibit the operation of personal transportation vehicles that are accessed by an on-demand portal, such as a smartphone, and made available to the public in unstaffed, self-service locations.”

Flowery Branch may be moving toward legalizing golf carts on the street, according to the Gainesville Times.

A recent Flowery Branch survey said 76 percent of respondents believe personal transportation vehicles — or golf carts, mainly — should be legalized in the South Hall city.

The survey, which ran July 10-Aug. 24, was one part of a city process toward an ordinance governing golf carts in the city.

Also, the city would have a map that “identifies legal streets for PTV operations on internal neighborhood streets and streets signed 25 mph or less.”

Sterling on the Lake, a subdivision off Spout Springs Road that is being developed with up to 2,000 homes, is considered one of “the top locations identified for PTV use.”

Otherwise, they’re suggested on “other neighborhood streets, any streets signed 25 mph or less, downtown streets and city parks.”


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 10, 2018

Stephanie Hound

Stephanie is a young female Hound mix who is available for adoption from All About Animals Rescue in Macon, GA.

Stephanie is a 6 month old female hound mix. She is crate trained, house trained, knows sit command, takes treats gently, is a shy and quiet girl. She loves being with her person or her dog friends. Stephanie has been going through a transformation. She was owner surrendered to a high kill shelter with hair issues. She has since been treated and looks like a brand new pup! To complete this sweet girls new start at life she needs someone to adopt her and shower her with love.

Barley Hound

Barley (or Barkley) is a young male Treeing Walker Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Save A Pet Inc in Forsyth, GA.

Sweet Barkley desperately needs a home soon with a lot of room to run. He hates being cooped up when inside the shelter kennel. He loves to run and play and gets along with all the other dogs. He is great with people, including children. Once he gets his energy out he is ready for some cuddles!

Barkley is just over a year old and weighs about 65 pounds. He is a Treeing Walker Coonhound. Walker hounds are known to be gentle, calm, friendly dogs who make great house pets. With some training and consistency, we know Barkley can be just that!

Alice Coonhound

Alice is an adult female Bluetick Coonhound who is available for adoption from Georgia Canine Rescue and Rehabilitation in Cochran, GA.

Alice gets along with other dogs, is crate and leash trained. She is very sweet, loves everyone.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 10, 2018

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

Government Irony of the Week: A fountain in Columbus has run dry, while the Columbus Government Center suffers periodic flooding due to plumbing problems, according to the Ledger-Enquirer.

One of the city’s largest fountains in front of the tower on 10th Street has been shut down until plumbers can install some new parts, said Pat Biegler, director of Public Works.

With crumbling pipes and other systems failing, the fountain parts are in line with needs city officials have faced with three flooding events since June 18 that left the 10th and 11th floors closed indefinitely. A recent review of damage indicated that it would cost almost $6 million to repair drain lines, fire sprinklers and other systems just to buy time until a decision is made on the entire structure.

She is hoping a crew will get to the fountain in the next two weeks or later. “We’re hoping if things stay quiet to get the fountain repaired in the next couple of weeks,” Biegler said.

An Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll shows the Governor’s race deadlocked at 45 percent for Republican Brian Kemp and 45 percent for Democrat Stacey Abrams.

The poll of likely November voters showed the two rivals are fighting to win over a sliver of the electorate: Just 8 percent of the respondents were undecided, and an additional 2 percent support Libertarian Ted Metz.

About 42 percent of likely Georgia voters approve of his performance in the White House, compared with 51 percent who disapprove. Roughly 7 percent didn’t know or refused to answer the survey, which was the second AJC poll this year to show Trump’s approval ratings below 50 percent in Georgia.

The findings illustrated the deep partisan divide over Trump, who remains solidly popular among his party’s base, garnering an 85 percent approval rating from Georgia Republicans. But just one-quarter of independents and only 2 percent of Democrats gave him high marks.

About 63 percent of voters approve of Deal’s performance, while only 1 in 5 disapprove. The high marks came from across the political spectrum, with nearly half of Democrats and 64 percent of independents giving the governor favorable reviews.

Pew Charitable Trusts looks at state government programs promoting nutrition as a healthcare issue.

Georgia state Sen. Renee Unterman, a Republican and chairwoman of the state Senate Health and Human Services Committee and co-chairwoman of the NCSL hunger partnership, suggested at the food is medicine session that a community garden with a medical purpose in her state — and started by a child — could be a model.

Village Community Garden manager Janya Green was 12 when she started on the community garden as her 4-H Club project three years ago on 5 acres donated by the town of Sylvester, population 6,000, about 170 miles south of Atlanta. Anyone can pick free vegetables and fruit whenever they like. The garden features cabbage, carrots, kale, okra, bell peppers, squash, sweet potatoes, blackberries, blueberries, muscadine grapes and even bananas. Herbs are next.

A pond is stocked with fish, so residents can reel in healthy protein as well. A local county commissioner gave lumber for a 20- by 60-foot stage.

Phoebe Worth Medical Center installed an outdoor kitchen in the garden for chef-taught cooking classes. Darrell Sabbs, governmental affairs specialist at the medical center, hopes researchers from Emory University or the University of Georgia will study the health statistics of the neighborhood and gauge the garden’s health effects.

Dr. Marilyn Carter, an internal medicine physician who also trained as a pharmacist, lives in Sylvester and volunteers at the garden. She and a nutritionist wrote up health benefits of the produce for signs that will help people make smart choices.

“We’re in the stroke belt,” Carter pointed out, adding that many of her patients have heart disease and diabetes. People eat a typical Southern diet of fried foods and foods out of boxes that are high calorie and high fat, she said.

“I want people to know, ‘If I eat more kale and less white rice, my blood pressure will be better,’” she said. Her name for the garden: the Farmacy.

Steve Foster, the Democratic nominee for Congress in the 14th District, will campaign from a jail cell, according to Newsweek.

Steve Foster told the Associated Press in a phone interview from jail this week that, despite serving his six-month jail sentence through Election Day, he intends to stay in the race. Foster was handed down the sentence in August for drunk driving.

“Look, I’m not withdrawing,” Foster said.

He also told the AP he’s continuing to order campaign signs and will send surrogates to take his place in meetings.

Foster was convicted in August for a DUI misdemeanor and sentenced to six months in jail. His sentence will be followed by another six months of probation, according to local media reports.

Savannah is considering a ban or regulation on internet-enabled electric scooters, according to the Savannah Morning News.

While the scooters present a unique transportation option for individuals, they also present a host of challenges for local communities, City Manager Rob Hernandez told the Savannah City Council during a workshop concerning the issue last week.

“Riders have been known to ride on sidewalks,” Hernandez said. “Others ride them on the street, where you are supposed to ride them, but they are not wearing helmets and there is a safety hazard with that.”

Often deployed in cities without warning, the “shared mobility devices” may soon be prohibited from operating in Savannah before their potential arrival.

An ordinance going before the Savannah City Council next week would not block the use of privately owned scooters, but would prohibit the operation of personal transportation vehicles that are accessed by an on-demand portal, such as a smartphone, and made available to the public in unstaffed, self-service locations.

If the council chooses to adopt the ban, the ordinance can always be amended to allow for the regulated use of the vehicles, said Sustainability Director Nick Deffley.

Georgia College wants to train more psychiatric nurses to address a shortage in the state, according to the Macon Telegraph.

The Psychiatric Mental Health Advanced Practice Registered Nurse (PMH-APRN) program, launched in the summer of 2016, teaches nurses how to cater specifically to the needs of patients with mental disorders through six semesters of full-time or nine semesters of part-time study.

Researchers expect the U.S. to face a shortage of 193,000 nurses by 2020, according to a 2015 Georgetown University study. Of the 50 states and the District of Columbia, Georgia had the second-lowest concentration of nursing professionals per 1,000 residents, the report found.

The shortage is especially pronounced among psychiatric nurses, Baker said. Nearly every county in the state faces a dearth of mental health care providers, and in Georgia, 205 more mental health care professionals would need to start practicing in the state to adequately meet the needs of its more than 10 million residents, the Kaiser Family Foundation reports. The shortage impacts each tier of the medical field, from psychiatrists to school psychologists to nurse practitioners.

A shortage of psychiatric mental health nurses means not only that there aren’t enough nurse practitioners to provide care for those in need, but there also aren’t enough professors qualified to train more nursing students to enter the field. Godwin said there was a big push for more psychiatric nurses in the 1960s and 1970s, but many of those practitioners have since retired, leaving a void in the sector.

[Professor and program  co-director Carol Dean] Baker said Georgia College is committed to training more nurses like Godwin to earn their psychiatric nurse practitioner’s certification and use it to fill the gap in mental health care that has plagued the state for years. All of the nurses who have graduated from the program or are pursuing their certification now worked in the state beforehand, and Baker thinks they’ll stay.

Gwinnett County is on a train headed to a March 2019 transit referendum, according to the Gwinnett Daily Post.

But that, of course, raises the question of “Will it pass?”

“I sure hope so,” [MARTA Board Chair Robbie] Ashe told reporters after Thursday’s MARTA board meeting. “We have a generational opportunity to get this right. I think it’s hugely important for MARTA. I think it’s hugely important for Gwinnett. I think it’s hugely important for the region and we will pull out all the stops to make sure people understand the opportunity that they’re voting for.”

Gwinnett County Commission Chairwoman Charlotte Nash, who has already said she believes the referendum will pass, expects to spend a lot of time leading up to the referendum explaining the contract to the community.

Just don’t expect an all out education campaign from her immediately. After all, there is a general election with several contests including the heated and closely watched governor’s race coming up in November.

“The next two months, I’m just going to let the fury fly in the regular election process and then we’ll see what we do,” Nash said. “I honestly think it’ll be hard to get anybody’s attention on anything besides the general election ballot during that time period.”

“There’s lots of preparatory work that can be done,” she said. “I’ve already started the round of the Rotary Clubs and the Kiwanis and the other civic organizations. I spoke to one of the Rotary Clubs (Wednesday) and this was my topic. If folks don’t want to hear about transit, they probably don’t need to ask me to speak over the next few months.”

Grovetown’s newest employees are making a splash on social media, according to the Augusta Chronicle.

Visitors commenting on the Grovetown Neighborhood Watch Facebook page have asked about the goats – such as their location and their well-being. In late July, the city started a Facebook page just for the goats, to tell people about the herd’s comings and goings. The page has more than 140 followers.

Grovetown is one of a growing number of cities that use goats to clear vegetation on municipal property. Savannah, Ga., has been giving a herd of goats a test run this summer. Norcross, near Atlanta, started using the animals as part of a park development this past spring.

Grovetown bought its first five goats about two years ago – from a farmer in Washington, Ga., and from a person in Harlem – for about $50 each.

Since then, a couple goats have died of natural causes but more have been born. Now there are 15 in the herd, which Waller calls “manageable,” and there are no plans to expand.

Keeping the goats costs about $1,000 a year, mostly for worming medicine and for supplemental food during the colder months, Waller said.

The Valdosta Board of Education is seeking candidates for a vacancy in the District 2 seat, according to the Valdosta Daily Times.

The Savannah Harbor-Interstate 16 Corridor Joint Development Authority has applied for a permit from the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers to build a prospective manufacturing facility on protected wetlands, according to the Savannah Morning News.

The Gainesville City School District is considering how to recruit more minority teachers, according to the Gainesville Times.

The Board of Education allocated $100,000 this year to implement this minority recruitment plan for up to 10 future employees — part of a broader hiring measure that included additional funding to fill positions in work-based learning programs; positions to support nurse caseloads at Gainesville middle and high schools; and new special education professionals.

Gainesville City Schools Superintendent Jeremy Williams said staff turnover and changing demographics prompted the board to pursue the hiring plan to attract and retain teachers from minority backgrounds. That includes pursuing fluent Spanish-speakers like Esqueda, who was born in the United States to Mexican immigrants.

Hispanic students are a majority of the district’s student body at 60 percent, but 80 percent of the system’s teachers are Caucasian, according to Williams. Just 15 percent of the student population is white, while African-Americans account for 19 percent.

According to Priscilla Collins, chief professional services officer with Gainesville City Schools, the program is “designed to achieve equity, excellence and diversity in the new teacher pipeline and the teaching force.”

Larry Morten, a former bookkeeper in the Glynn County Superior Court Clerk’s Office, pleaded guilty to 70 counts of theft covering more than $76,000, according to The Brunswick News.

Henry County Commissioners increased the administrative fee for occupational licenses, according to the Henry Herald.

Henry Commissioners also passed a resolution supporting the new transit agency, the Atlanta Transit Link, according to the Henry Herald.

Rome City Commissioners will hear a report on housing supply, according to the Rome News-Tribune.

The Glynn County Board of Education will meet Tuesday and consider changes to procedures for discipline hearings, according to The Brunswick News.


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 7, 2018

Gracey Ann

Gracey Ann is a 6-7 year old, 44-pound female Treeing Walker Coonhound mix who is available for adoption from Angels Among Us Pet Rescue, Inc. in Alpharetta, GA.

Dolly Grace

Dolly Grace is a 7-year old, 67-pound senior female Shepherd and Hound mix who is available for adoption from Furkids Dog Shelter in Alpharetta, GA.

Grace Fulton

Grace is a young female Rottweiler mix puppy who is available for adoption from Fulton County Animal Services in Atlanta, GA.


Georgia Politics, Campaigns, and Elections for September 7, 2018

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

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.

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

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.

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

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.”

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.”

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, 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 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.

Happy 80th birthday on Saturday 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.

Happy 76th birthday on Sunday 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

Georgia Health News spoke to both candidates for Governor about healthcare issues.Continue Reading..


Adoptable (Official) Georgia Dogs for September 6, 2018

Eloise Coastal

Eloise is a 2.5 month old female Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Eloise is a spunky little gal! She will stay tiny like her Mom ..13 lbs… but has a lot of energy!

Buggy Coastal

Buggy is a ten-week old male Dachshund and Terrier mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Buggy is a Dachshund mix. He is a big time cuddler. He loves everyone and every animal he meets, and is already learning “sit”, and “no”. Buggy is a medium energy puppy who is eager to learn and love!

Milo Coastal

Milo is an 8-month old Treeing Walker Coonhound mix puppy who is available for adoption from Coastal Pet Rescue in Savannah, GA.

Hi, I’m Milo! I love hanging out with my siblings (Mina & Milam). We love to play, swim and wrestle with each other. All. Day. Long. I’m just a typical fun loving puppy and do well on car rides. I get along with other dogs and would do best with a playmate. I also need someone who will be patient with me and teach me leash manners, and help me control of my pent up puppy-nality.

A Chatham County Sheriff’s Deputy helped rescue three puppies from a vacant home, according to the Savannah Morning News.

Williams said he was impressed by the diligence of the sheriff’s office, and was thrilled that “the high sheriff himself” called him back.

“I told him that I was amazed that he personally called me back, and to make sure he patted Lt. Webber on the back for making sure it went through,” Williams said.

The yet-to-be-named puppies are now staying with Williams and his two dogs, Harley and Myra. For now, he’s calling them Pretty Girl and Pretty Boy.