Category Archives: BREAKING NEWS

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Event Dates
April 28 – May 1, 2016

Veterans Memorial Arena

 

Boggs critic to chair Senate Confirmation Hearing

Georgia’s seven federal judicial nominees are set to appear Tuesday for a confirmation hearing before the U.S. Senate Judiciary Committee, a committee member’s spokesman said.

Even though the nominees are part of a package deal carved out between the White House and Georgia’s Republican senators, the hearing could prove especially challenging for one district court nominee, Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs. Scheduled to chair the hearing is U.S. Sen. Richard Blumenthal, D-Conn., who told The New York Times in February that he has “very serious concerns” about Boggs.

The Daily Report.

Boaters urged to slow down, watch for manatees and Ssea turtles

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources is warning boaters to look out for sea turtles and manatees while enjoying the Georgia coast this summer.

The DNR says boat strikes are the leading cause of sea turtle strandings and manatee injuries and deaths. They also remind the public that manatees and all sea turtle species found in Georgia are protected by federal and state laws.

The DNR offers some advice to boaters on how to spot turtles and manatees in the water. They say a ‘footprint’ of swirls may mark a 1-ton manatee underwater. A 300-pound loggerhead sea turtle may show only its head when it surfaces, so they say they best advice is to be be aware and be prepared to slow down or steer clear.

WSAV

Brunswick, Glynn can work together on recreation

“The future of the Brunswick Recreation Department is still a question mark. City commissioners are entirely in their right to want to take back control of youth activities sponsored and managed by the department, but whether the Glynn County Commission will agree to relinquish more Local Option Sales Tax dollars remains to be seen, especially since the estimated take-in this year is already plugged into the county’s budget.”
Source: Brunswick News

APS cheating scandal teachers accuse judge of unethical conduct

APS cheating scandal teachers accuse judge of unethical conduct
Former APS Superintendent Dr. Beverly Hall and former APS Executive Director Tamara Cotman filed a motion requesting Judge Jerry Baxter recuse himself from the case.
Source: CBS Atlanta

Dalton schools, Whitfield and Murray counties show improvement on school scores
Source: Dalton Daily Citizen

Three shootings at Paine College may be linked
Police think two shootings Sunday and Monday on the Paine College campus are connected and a third one near the school Monday might also be related, they said Tuesday.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

• Paine College seeks return to calm after shootings
Source: New York Times

Georgia State University prepares for 99th commencement ceremony
Officials say more than 5,000 bachelor’s, master’s and specialist graduates will be honored at the ceremony Saturday afternoon at the Georgia Dome. Two-time Olympic bobsledding medalist Elana Meyers-Taylor is scheduled to address students during Saturday’s ceremony.
Source: WSAV-TV

UGA gets grant for peanut-related research
University officials said this week that the research will focus on several areas including breeding, weed control, pest management, marketing and policy in an effort to support the state’s second most valuable row crop. Officials say the crop was worth more than $891 million in 2012.
Source: WSAV-TV

 

Dalton State president to retire December 31
John Schwenn has been president since March 2008.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Marietta’s West Side Elementary principal to retire
Dr. Karen Smits is finishing up her third year as principal at the school.
Source: Marietta Daily Journal

Georgia 6th grader’s doodle picked by Google in annual contest
Google has selected a doodle drawn by Christine Jeong, a Johns Creek sixth grader, as the best doodle from Georgia in its 2014 Doodle 4 Google contest.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

 

Few empty storefronts in Villa Rica

There are only five buildings available in all of downtown Villa Rica, according to Ada Large, a Realtor who runs the downtown leasing office.
Source: Carrollton Times-Georgian

 RoseMott Vineyards at Gin Creek plans open house Saturday in Moultrie
The Winery at Gin Creek will open to the public Saturday, May 10, in a tasting room housed in a beautifully renovated old tobacco pack house.
Source: Moultrie Observer

 Ribbon-cutting held for Kaiser Permanente expansion in Jonesboro
Source: Clayton News-Daily

 Two new grocery stores planned for Statesboro
Two traffic projects that received Statesboro City Council support Tuesday will accommodate proposed new grocery stores and other businesses.
Source: Statesboro Herald

 Dawsonville company buys two sites
Impulse Manufacturing recently announced the acquisition of MSM Holding Company, a move that could more than double the Dawsonville-based steel fabricator’s work force within the next year.
Source: Dawson News

Office Depot to close at least 400 U.S. stores
Office Depot is merging with OfficeMax and will close stores where they overlap.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Medient Studios enters into joint venture with Malaysia film company
Source: WTOC-TV

 

One candidate running for Congress in four states

Allan Levene isn’t absolutely convinced of his chances in the GOP race for the congressional seat now held by U.S. Rep. Phil Gingrey of Marietta, so he’s also running in Michigan, Minnesota and Hawaii.
Source: OutsideTheBeltway.com

 Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle touts state’s investment in transportation
Cagle, a Republican, spoke to the Rotary Club of Dalton Tuesday afternoon about how the state economy is poised to grow in the next 10 years because of “smart decisions” that have made it more accessible globally.
Source: Dalton Daily Citizen

 Georgia residents to have Saturday voting option
Secretary of State Brian Kemp issued a reminder to Georgia residents this week to announce the state’s Saturday voting date for the May 20 primary election. State law requires the polls be open to the public one Saturday during an election cycle.
Source: Clayton News-Daily

 Georgia: Lopsided Democratic Senate primary offers little surprise
“Most veteran political observers think they know how the Democratic primary for the U.S. Senate will turnout: Michelle Nunn routing her opponents.”
Source: Southern Political Report

Two Carters on 1st congressional district ballot
Among the six Republican candidates on the 1st Congressional District ballot this spring, two happen to share the same surname: Carter. The primary ballot lists “Darwin Carter” first, which doesn’t sit well with “E.L. ‘Buddy’ Carter.”
Source: Savannah Morning News

Floyd County farmers to get drought aid for 2012 losses via farm bill
Source: Rome News-Tribune

GOP senate candidate David Perdue to take statewide bus tour
The seven-day tour will include over 50 stops in 32 counties. Included will be 28 events open to the public.
Source: AccessNorthGa.com

State Rep. Jeff Chapman gets failing grade by state Chamber of Commerce
Source: Georgia Times-Union

Senate District 9 debate held in Gwinnett County
Sen. Don Balfour, P.K. Martin and Mike Beaudreau debated Tuesday.
Source: Gwinnett Daily Post

Video: Political Insider: Ga. GOP hopeful would ‘rather see another terrorist attack’ than deal with TSA
“Bob Johnson, a Savannah surgeon running in the First Congressional District GOP primary, was caught on tape taking his criticism of the Transportation Security Administration to a dramatic level.”
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Derek Willis: A mysterious Republican Committee in the Virgin Islands
“There are a few things you should know about the Virgin Islands Republican Party: It has no full-time staff, has not had regular meetings for nearly two years, and only about 4 percent of the $200,000 it has raised since last fall has gone to party coffers…..Its third donation was to a Georgia state superintendent candidate.”
Source: New York Times

 

Interesting twist on familiar old political story

The Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

There was a time (which clearly isn’t quite over) when being elected to political office in Georgia could amount to a lifetime sinecure for all but the most ineffective and unconnected officials.

In fact, state law once allowed for an automatic lifetime pension for state workers who got laid off. “Years ago at the state Capitol,” Atlanta Journal-Constitution “Political Insider” Jim Galloway wrote last week, “if you truly wanted to do a friend a favor, you fired him.”

But the saga of former state lawmaker and now-former Georgia Public Broadcasting employee Chip Rogers is a a curious variation on the theme.

As reported this week by the Cherokee Tribune and Fox 5 in Atlanta, an April 18 letter to Rogers from GPB officially fired the former Senate majority leader for violation of “several employment policies of GPB relating to political activity, outside or dual employment, time and attendance, teleworking and the code of ethics.”

According to the letter, Rogers was warned a year ago that political or lobbying activity would constitute a conflict of interest, and stressed “the importance of making your job here at GPB a priority and a full-time effort.”

Certainly the $150,000-a-year paycheck Rogers received for his GPB tenure should have been enough for full-time work. But that’s another story.

Rogers, R-Woodstock, was something of a political burr in Gov. Nathan Deal’s saddle. Among other problems, he began aligning with tea party groups embracing fringe positions (he once sponsored a Capitol seminar on “Agenda 21,” supposedly a nefarious international plot to strip Americans of private property rights), and posed a potential challenge from the right to Republican leaders.

Then suddenly, an “executive producer” position appeared out of nowhere at GPB, and Rogers resigned his Senate seat to take it. (One veteran GPB producer, making little more than a third of what Rogers would be paid, resigned in protest.)

What ultimately cost Rogers the cushy GPB position was the belated revelation that he was also being paid — at least since 2012 — as a “government affairs” adviser to the Asian American Hotel Owners Association. In other words, Georgia taxpayers were paying part of Chip Rogers’ six-figure salary to lobby for the hospitality industry.

Bert Brantley, former media representative for Gov. Sonny Perdue and now a GPB board member, addressed the necessity for GPB’s editorial independence on a recent broadcast: “It’s state-owned media, but not in the sense you’d see [in] other countries, where the state runs the media and delivers the content.”

Neither the manner in which Rogers got that job nor the reasons for which he was forced out of it can pass the most basic test of public accountability. Galloway sums it up succinctly: “So there’s the good news. We’re not a re-creation of the Soviet Union. But we may be reliving Machiavelli’s Italy.”

Columbus Ledger Enquirer.

Easter Seals and Walgreens collaborate in job training efforts

Individuals are receiving job readiness training and job coaching opportunities through Easter Seals and Walgreens in Waycross.

When Jessica Harrell was a junior in high school she was referred to Easter Seals by her Vocational Rehabilitation Counselor, Paige Carter, to receive job-readiness classes. Then in Jessica’s senior year of high school she was referred to Easter Seals again for Community Work Adjustment Training (CWAT). Jessica began her on-site training at Walgreens in Waycross in February under the supervision of her Easter Seals Vocational Instructor, Carolyn Towns.

Jessica recently received an award for her demonstration of the Walgreens cultural beliefs. She also received a beautiful collage from Walgreens management in honor of her hard work and dedication. Jessica is very proud of her accomplishments and excited to be recognized in such an honorable way.

Easter Seals Vocational Services provides employment opportunities to individuals with disabilities or special needs by offering a variety of trainings and services to assist them in becoming work ready. Easter Seals Southern Georgia is a non-profit organization that has been providing community support services in the 54 counties in southern Georgia. For more information about Easter Seals Southern Georgia, go to http://southerngeorgia.easterseals.com. Contact Amy Martin in the vocational department if interested in placing individuals in your business call 229-439-7061.

Intercooler.

White House warns of climate change impacts in south Georgia

A new government report says Georgia’s agriculture industry will take a major hit from climate change and urgent action is needed.

Tuesday, the Obama Administration released the third National Climate Assessment, calling it the most comprehensive scientific assessment of climate change and its impact.

President Obama said, “We want to emphasize to the public, this is not some distant problem of the future. This is a problem that is affecting Americans right now.”

The report predicts increased drought in our region that will cause severe water shortages in the Apalachicola-Chattahoochee-Flint River basin.

Experts also say yields of major south Georgia crops such as peanuts, cotton, corn and soybeans will be impacted.

The report concluded devastating effects of climate change arrived even sooner than experts predicted just a few years ago, and the report says those impacts will only get worse.

WALB.com

New gun laws in Georgia raise cost concerns for Brantley school districts

Georgia’s new gun law will now allow school districts to decide if they want to train school employees to be armed with guns.

But some districts are on the fence about the issue.

The Glynn County School District already has armed school police. Now many rural districts will have to make a decision on whether or not they want guns in schools.

The Brantley County School District hasn’t had a school resource officer on patrol for more than 15 years according to Assistant Superintendent Dr. Greg Jacobs. He said the school district is one of the poorest in the state of Georgia.

“You have to have funds to pay a school resource officer,” said Jacobs.

via New gun laws in Georgia raise cost concerns for school districts | News – Home.

Health-care-associated infections high at three local hospitals

When you walk into a hospital, you don’t expect to leave with an infection you did not have going in. But there are three hospitals in Northeast Florida and Southeast Georgia that rank worse than the national benchmark when it comes to hospital-associated infections.

According to the Official U.S. Government Site for Medicare those hospitals are UF Health Jacksonville, Memorial Hospital Jacksonville and Southeast Georgia Health System-Brunswick Campus.

The site rates them based on six infections.

UF Health Jacksonville rates worse than the national benchmark on surgical site infections from abdominal hysterectomy, a bloodstream infection known as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, and an intestinal infection called Clostridium difficile.

Memorial Hospital Jacksonville ranks worse than the national benchmark on catheter associated urinary tract infection.

Southeast Georgia Health System’s Brunswick Campus ranks worse than the national benchmark on central line-associated bloodstream infection.

U.S. Sen. Barbara Boxer’s office released a report Friday detailing medical errors. It claims 210,000 to 440,000 people die each year because of preventable mistakes in hospitals like infections, bedsores and falls. According to the report, medical errors cost $19.5 billion annually.

The president of the Duval Medical Society, Dr. Mobeen Rathore, who also works at UF Health Jacksonville, said it’s an issue that is taken seriously.

“I think it is already safe, I think already the quality is high, but there is always room for improvement,” said Rathore.

According to Rathore, it’s a matter of maintaining proper hygiene.

ActionNewsJax.com.

Six in Evans charged in identity theft ring probe

Six Evans County residents were charged last week in a large scale joint federal and state investigation of identity theft and tax fraud. Initial court appearances were held last Thursday morning at the federal building in Statesboro before Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith.

A total of 56 defendants (39 federal and 17 state) have been charged so far, but the investigation is still ongoing. Of the six locals involved, five were charged federally, and one was charged by the state.

via The Claxton Enterprise

DNR plans improvements at Blythe Island boat ramps

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources(GADNR)  has entered an intergovernmental agreement with Glynn County to increase available parking and to make other improvements at the public boat ramps located on Blythe Island in Glynn County. In 2003, GADNR installed a boating service dock at the facility which increased its popularity with boaters and fishermen. This popularity has caused crowding in the associated parking area.

“Boating and fishing are very popular activities along the Georgia coast, and we are committed to working with local governments to ensure the public has safe and fully functional access sites,” said Mark Williams, Commissioner of Natural Resources. “These improvements to the boating access facility on Blythe Island will double the available parking for vehicles and trailers while also adding to the longevity of the boat ramps.”

The project is being funded jointly by GADNR using Federal Aid in Sport Fish Restoration and Glynn County. Work has already begun on the $75,000 project and should be completed by June 30, 2014. In addition to expansion of parking facilities, the project includes improvements to the boat ramps to prevent erosion. The playground adjacent to the parking area will also get a facelift with a new safety fence, child-friendly mulch and new equipment.

“These ongoing improvements are in keeping with our efforts to make our recreational facilities appeal to a broader cross section of Glynn County residents”, said Glynn County Commission Chair Mike Browning. “This project would not have been done at this time without the financial assistance we’ve received in the form of a grant from GADNR. On behalf of our community and the Board of Commissioners, we extend our gratitude for this local partnership.”

The boating access site is located on the west side of Turtle River on Blythe Island just above the I-95 bridge. Access to the site is off Hwy 303 by turning at the light onto Blythe Island Drive and traveling for 1.2 miles, then turn right onto Park St and the ramp is straight ahead. The Turtle River location offers quick access to the St. Simons and St. Andrews estuaries, the lower Satilla River, and the Atlantic Ocean. There is no fee for the boat ramps.

Since its 1937 inception, the Federal Aid to Sportfish Restoration Program has provided funds to support fish restoration and management.  The program generates funds for research, enforcement, education, clean marinas and boating/fishing access through an excise tax placed on fishing equipment at the manufacturer level.

For more information on the Turtle River Park project contact Shawn Jordan at GADNR/Coastal Resources (912) 264-7218; shawn.jordan@gadnr.org

Rec league photo schedule released

Below you will find listed the Team Photo Schedule for the 2014 Brantley County Recreation Department. This is the assigned TEAM photo time and date. The  will be at the field from 445 until 745 pm each game day and is able to take individual photographs at any time. There will be registration forms and schedules at the admission table.

T-Ball Nina Able 5:15 May 5th Monday

T-Ball Doug Altman 6:00 May 5th Monday

T-Ball Timmy Brockington 6:45 May 5th Monday

T-Ball Chad Taylor (T-Ball) 5:15 May 8th Thursday

T-Ball Erin Sikes 6:00 May 8th Thursday

T-Ball Amanda Westover 6:45 May 8th Thursday

T-Ball Alysha Grafford 5:15 May 12th Monday

T-Ball Justin Todd 6:00 May 12th Monday

T-Ball Frank Thomas 6:45 May 12th Monday

8UGirls Jimmy Cowan 5:15 May 6th Tuesday

8UGirls Brett Wood 6:15 May 6th Tuesday

8UGirls Christopher Harris 5:15 May 9th Friday

8UGirls Chad Moore 6:15 May 9th Friday

8UBoys Stevie Hendrix 7:15 May 9th Friday

8UBoys Charles Mock 5:15 May 13th Tuesday

8UBoys Kevin Middleton 6:15 May 13th Tuesday

8UBoys Chad Taylor (8U) 7:15 May 13th Tuesday

8UBoys Paul Winder 7:15 May 16th Friday

10UGirls Justin Bowers 6:15 May 2nd Friday

10UGirls Donald Lee 5:00 May 19th Monday

10UGirls Odette Dennis 5:15 May 19th Monday

10UBoys Terry Steedley 5:15 May 15th Thursday

10UBoys Scott Rowell 6:15 May 15th Thursday

10UBoys Jeff O’Quinn 6:15 May 22th Thursday

10UBoys David Lindsay 5:15 May 29th Thursday

10UBoys Steven Chesser 6:15 May 29th Thursday

12UGirls Lanice Clever 5:15 May 2nd Friday

12UGirls Ed Lowther 6:45 May 13th Tuesday

12UGirls Travis Page 5:45 May 16th Friday

12UBoys Daniel Watkins 6:45 May 6th Tuesday

12UBoys Joe Simpson 5:15 May 20th Tuesday

12UBoys Shannon Foster 6:45 May 20th Tuesday

12UBoys Michael Morgan 8:00 after game May 20th Tuesday

14 U Boys Boys Michael TannerT o Be Scheduled

Mark Murphy: Why ‘ghost’ at Sixpence Pub is smiling

Mark Murphy: Why ‘ghost’ at Sixpence Pub is smiling
“And so, it seems, my father-in-law is a ghost. That’s what the Savannah ghost tours say, anyway — that Larry Dillon’s earthbound shade haunts the Sixpence Pub on Bull Street, a place he once owned years ago.”
Source: Savannah Morning News

Cartoon: Mark Streeter — What a difference a day makes
Source: Savannah Morning News

 

• Mike Luckovich: Benghazi
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Chuck Williams: The questions on everyone’s mind
“It may be the best journalism assignment I have ever had. For the past two months, I have been doing a series of long-form interviews with CEOs, newsmakers, community leaders and top politicians.”
Source: Columbus Ledger-EnquirerRiding to make more miracles for more children
“Nine thousand miles in three weeks through every state in the Lower 48 is a long, hard ride for miracles. But for the sixth year, Scott Ressmeyer and a group of hardy fellow motorcycle enthusiasts have taken to the road for the Children’s Miracle Network at Midtown Medical Center.”
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Around Town: Word war — Byrne keeps up attack on Cobb Chamber
“The most dangerous place in Cobb these days is arguably anywhere between Cobb Commission candidate Bill Byrne and the Cobb Chamber of Commerce.”
Source: Marietta Daily Journal

Noise isn’t the point
“As nice climes return the good-time activities increase, with the big whoop-dee-dos grabbing most of the attention and their attendance counted in the multiple thousands drawn from near and far.”
Source: Rome News-Tribune

Elliott Brack: ‘Not even once’ is way to address methamphetamine menace
“Gwinnett is indebted to the Philadelphia College of Osteopathic Medicine in Suwanee, and the Community Foundation of North Georgia, for sponsoring a forum to spell out the insidious problems of methamphetamine (“meth”) that our society faces.”
Source: GwinnettForum.com

 

Panel in Rome to focus on children’s mental health issues

A variety of experts will talk about how to recognize and address problems young people have related to home, school and even work, during the gathering sponsored by the Northwest Georgia Federation of Families for Children’s Mental Health.
Source: Rome News-Tribune

New substance abuse treatment center to open in Jasper
Highland Rivers Health, which provides services for the mentally ill and those with substance addictions, will operate the new facility. It is the state’s provider for Floyd and 11 other Northwest Georgia counties.
Source: Rome News-Tribune

NGMC now a Level II Trauma Center
Gov. Deal unveiled the new signage for the Northeast Georgia Medical Center.
Source: AccessNorthGa.com

 

Political veteran faces newcomer for House seat

Political veteran Buddy Harden faces a challenge from newcomer Randy Head in the race to represent south Houston, Pulaski, Wilcox and Crisp counties in state House District 148 for the next two-year term.
Source: Macon Telegraph

Sen. Chuck Hufstetler gets A+ rating from Georgia Chamber
The scorecard recognizes legislators that supported pro-business initiatives during the recent legislative session.
Source: Rome News-Tribune

Michelle Nunn considered in front runner position
Without offering specific stands on most issues, her main argument is that she would be a centrist in Washington who could work with both sides of the aisle, helping to end partisan clashes.
Source: Georgia Times-Union

Political Insider: As North Carolina votes, a test of tea party strength in Ga. looms
“A big test of the tea party’s future comes today as North Carolina primary voters decide whether to go with the establishment’s pick or a conservative insurgency. Fuzzier battle lines are being drawn in Georgia.”
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

Carmike Cinemas reports higher revenue

But they also reported a $3.1 million net loss.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Longtime TSYS CFO to retire at end of June
Jim Lipham has been with the company since 1984.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Aflac holds shareholder meeting
CEO Dan Amos discussed a series of achievements that would make most shareholders happy. They included the fact that 2013 was the 24th year in a row that Aflac has reached its target for operating earnings per share.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Some companies looking at Bibb County seeking a lot of space
Industries looking at Macon-Bibb County as a potential site to do business include some that need a lot of square footage.
Source: Macon Telegraph

Developers buy high-profile Atlanta ‘symphony center’ site
The developers are planning a $650 million mixed-use project that could include three new residential towers.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Delta baggage fee revenue down in 2013
The airline is still #1 for baggage charges, however.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Delta to add flights from Atlanta to Europe
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Norcross-based Recall Holdings acquires CitiStorage
The $47.2 million acquisition expands Recall’s footprint in the New York City region and strengthens the company’s secure information management services in the largest U.S. market, Recall said in a press release.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

 

Paine shooting suspect named

Shooting suspect at Paine College named
Early this morning, the Richmond County jail confirmed that Xavier Cooper, of Augusta, was the suspect in Monday’s shooting at Paine College.
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Muscogee County School Board still affected by divisive 2012 vote
Another election cycle has arrived, and two more bloc members are running. And that two-year-old vote still is a campaign issue.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Middle Georgia school districts benefit from recovered state funds
The additional state money isn’t exactly a financial increase for school systems. Rather, it means fewer cuts to the money that local school districts earn, officials say. Still, recovering some state funding likely will mean more school days, fewer furlough days and the return of raises for some midstate school employees.
Source: Macon Telegraph

Georgia Tech professor resigns after bilking students of $50,000
A Georgia Tech professor has agreed to repay nearly $50,000 that he improperly took from his own students and a private company.
Source: WSB-TV

Two Georgia students picked as Presidential Scholars
Officials said in a statement Monday that Sathvik Namburar of Duluth and Meghana Nallajerla of Milton have been selected for the honor. Officials say Namburar attends Woodward Academy in College Park and Nallajerla attends Milton High School.
Source: WSB-TV

Dalton State president to retire
University System of Georgia officials say John O. Schwenn, who has served as university president since March 2008, will retire from his position Dec. 31, 2014.
Source: WSB-TV

Trial to begin for former UGA football coach
The criminal trial is set to begin Tuesday for former University of Georgia football coach Jim Donnan, who’s accused of running a pyramid scheme using relationships of trust to lure investors.
Source: AccessNorthGa.com/AP

• Former UGA football coach to go to trial
Former University of Georgia head football coach Jim Donnan is scheduled to go to trial on criminal charges of mail and wire fraud Tuesday in a federal courthouse about a mile from Sanford Stadium.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution 

Valdosta State gets $1 million donation for nursing program
Health care entrepreneur Martin Miller and his wife, Laura Lynn, have given $1 million to Valdosta State University to provide scholarships for students interested in a career in community or behavioral health nursing.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

15 Gwinnett County seniors selected as Gates Millennium Scholars
Source: Gwinnett Daily Post

New leadership at Atlanta Public Schools to cost $500,000
The money is coming from outside donors, but pushes the envelope on how business influences public education.
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution/subscription

 

St. Marys hires new city manager

The St Marys City Council has hired John Holman, the sole remaining candidate, as its new city manager.

The council voted Monday night to authorize Mayor John Morrissey to sign an employment agreement with Holman who was the only candidate remaining when the other two finalists withdrew last month.

Holman is a retired Navy officer with more than 21 years experience managing cities and townships. He is now manager of Springettsbury Township in Pennsylvania.

At a public interview session in April, Holman said  he believes his skill set fits the city’s needs and that he was pleased that the Kings Bay Naval Submarine Base is next door.

“I like what St. Marys has to offer,” he said.

Holman will replace Steve Crowell who resigned in February to take a similar position in Jefferson City, Mo.

At Monday night’s meeting Morrissey praised the efforts of the staff and the council for their hard work in “an excellent process … searching for a talented city manager.”

“We are very happy with the selection we made,” he said.

Morrissey said he expects Holman will begin work in his new position in the middle of June.

members.jacksonville.com.

Baxley man who said in 2013 that two home invaders killed his wife pleads guilty to her murder

A Baxley man who told police in January 2013 that two masked men had broken into his house, tied him up and killed his wife pleaded guilty Monday to murder in her strangulation.

Jonathan Kyle Courson, 28, pleaded guilty before Chief Superior Court Judge E.M. Wilkes III to felony murder, making a false statement and tampering with evidence in the death of his wife, 28-year-old Amanda Nicole Courson, said Jackie Johnson, district attorney of the Brunswick Judicial Circuit.

Jurors were to have reported Monday for his trial on murder and the other charges.

Wilkes sentenced Courson to life with the possibility of parole on the murder change and two terms on probation, five years for making false statements and a year for evidence tampering.

Under the current guidelines, Courson will be eligible for parole in 30 years. He would begin serving the probation after his release.

jacksonville.com.

21-year-old in custody after shooting at Paine College

Richmond County Sheriff’s Sgt. Monica Belser said in a news release that a 21-year-old man has been taken into custody and is being identified as a person of interest in Monday’s shooting, which prompted an hourslong lockdown at Paine College in Augusta. He has not been charged or identified. Lockdowns were also implemented at nearby Georgia Regents University, which houses the university’s hospital, and nearby public schools.

Mohave Daily News

Gregg Allman sues to halt restart of film based on his life

Member of movie crew died Feb. 20 when train struck her and others on trestle outside Jesup

allmanSinger Gregg Allman has filed a lawsuit to stop movie producers from reviving a film based on his life story after a freight train plowed into crew members shooting on train tracks in southeast Georgia, killing one worker and injuring six others.

Attorneys for the Allman Brothers Band singer want a Superior Court judge to order Unclaimed Freight Productions “to cease all efforts to make a motion picture based upon the life of Gregg Allman and/ or his autobiography,” according the lawsuit filed last week in Savannah.

Production on “Midnight Rider,” a movie based on Allman’s 2012 memoir “My Cross to Bear,” had just begun in Savannah when crew members were stuck by a train Feb. 20 on a trestle spanning the Altamaha River in nearby Wayne County. Sarah Jones, a 28-year-old camera assistant, was killed. Six other members of director Randall Miller’s crew were injured, either by the train or by flying shrapnel from a bed placed on the tracks. Authorities investigating the crash say CSX Railroad, which owns the tracks, told them it did not give producers permission to film there.

Producers suspended work on the movie indefinitely the following week. Actor William Hurt, who was to star as Allman and was at the scene of the crash, later issued a statement saying he informed producers he would no longer work on the film.

Allman’s attorneys say “Midnight Rider” producers lost their rights to the singer’s life story when they failed to start principal photography by Feb. 28 and came up $9,000 short of an unspecified sum they had agreed to pay Allman for those film rights. The lawsuit says both those conditions were spelled out in Allman’s contract with Unclaimed Freight.

“Through my representatives, I have objected to Defendants’ plan to proceed with the motion picture,” Allman says in an affidavit filed with the lawsuit on April 28. Regardless, producers have told Allman’s representatives they plan to move forward with the movie, the lawsuit says.

A spokeswoman for Unclaimed Freight, Melissa Nathan, said Monday the producers had no comment. Their attorneys had not filed any response in court. In documents filed with the lawsuit, lawyers for Allman say the producers told them footage shot on the train tracks before the fatal crash satisfied the principal photography deadline.

Allman’s attorneys say they reviewed the footage and “none of it contained any dialogue whatsoever or appeared suitable for inclusion in the film,” according to the court documents.

A Chatham County Superior Court judge scheduled a hearing May 12 on Allman’s request for an order restraining producers from doing further work on the movie until the lawsuit is resolved.

“Midnight Rider” producers have declined to comment on reports that they plan to resume shooting this summer, based on communications with the film-workers union. In an email April 14, an attorney for the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees writes that “Midnight Rider” producers told the union they plan to restart the project in Los Angeles by June. A copy of the email was attached to Allman’s lawsuit.

Criminal charges could still be filed in connection with the train crash. Wayne County sheriff’s investigators have turned over their findings to local prosecutors, who have yet to announce a decision.

jacksonville.com.

Four arrested in drug charges in Ware

Three major illegal drug cases were made over the last few days and four suspects have been jailed, according to Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.

Those arrested include:

  • William Anthony Roberson Jr.
  • Chelsea Alexandra Rice
  • Vernon Marcus Sherrod
  • James Farley Music

On Saturday morning, Ware County deputies went to a mobile home at 2483 Wadley Road with a search warrant after sales of marijuana there had occurred, according to findings from an investigation.

The other two cases came as the result of traffic stops.

William Anthony Roberson Jr., 21, and Chelsea Alexandra Rice, 21, were taken into custody at the Wadley Road residence, said Royal, and both were taken to the Ware County jail on multiple drug charges.

Roberson and Rice are charged with possession of marijuana and possession of marijuana with intent to distribute.

“This was a result of an ongoing investigation at that residence,” said Royal. “The investigation revealed they have beenz selling marijuana at the mobile home for quite some time, frequently during the day.”

Detectives Jeff Nolan, Sgt. Joe Morris and K-9 Deputy Dearin Drury arrived at the home at 7:42 a.m. and made entry. The sheriff said inside the lawmen seized bags of marijuana packaged for sale in the kitchen, in the bedroom and in dresser drawers throughout the mobile home, as well as tiny bags used for sales of marijuana, digital scales, a grinder and other drug related objects including a quantity of money, smoking devices and a small amount of “spice,” synthetic marijuana.

On Friday, a traffic stop on the Alma Highway at Jamestown Road netted three arrests, Royal said, and the seizure of a large quantity of crystal methamphetamine by K-9 Deputy James Cox.

Vernon Marcus Sherrod, 47, of Happyville Street,Waycross, James Farley Music, 32, of 500 Walnut St., Waycross, and Gina Renae Perkins, 32, of Waycross, were taken into custody by Deputy Cox, said Royal.

Sherrod is charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute and a stop sign violation, said Royal.

Music is charged with possession of methamphetamine, possession of meth with intent to distribute, violation of probation and possession of a firearm during the commission of a crime, said Royal.

Perkins is charged with possession of meth with intent to distribute, crossing a guard line at the county jail with contraband, possession of marijuana and contempt of court on an outstanding bench warrant.

Department of Agriculture issues stop sale order on packaged mulch

The stop sale order includes Ace brand Mulch Pine Bark, Ace brand Cypress Mulch, Pro’s Choice Golden Trophy brand Absolute Red #1922 and Pro’s Choice Golden Trophy brand Red Mulch.

red_rubber_mulchAgriculture Commissioner Gary W. Black is alerting Georgians to the stop sale orderplaced on Ace and Pro’s Choice Golden Trophy brands of packaged mulch that were found to be under filled.

The Georgia Department of Agriculture’s Fuel and Measures Division discovered that particular bags of mulch distributed by Ohio Mulch Supply of Homerville and UMS of Columbus, Ohio, contained less mulch than the amount indicated on the packaging.

This stop sale order applies to all bags packaged before April 17, 2014.

Ohio Mulch will offer 50 cents per bag refunds plus 50 cents for postage for every consumer who purchased these products, as well as discounts on future purchases.

Customers need to mail proof of purchase of these products to Ohio Mulch, P.O. Box 650, Blacklick, OH 43004 to receive a refund. For additional questions, please contact the company at 614-592-2793.

Valdosta Today 

Tom Barton: A $350 million case of cold feet

Tom Barton: A $350 million case of cold feet
“School board member Connie Hall thinks that hiring a $77,000-a-year compliance officer will help the Savannah-Chatham County public school system clean up the mess in its $350-million school construction program.”
Source: Savannah Morning NewsTrucker protest was a roadside distraction
“You’ve got to hand it to the Teamsters Union. When it comes to trying to recruit more dues-paying members, it doesn’t give up. On Monday, several dozen short-haul truck drivers staged a peaceful protest outside the gates of the mammoth Georgia Ports Authority terminal in Garden City.”
Source: Savannah Morning NewsCartoon: Mark Streeter — For medicinal purposes
Source: Savannah Morning News

• Rick McKee: Donald Sterling….

Source: Augusta Chronicl

• Mike Luckovich: On top of Old Smoky
Source: Atlanta Journal-ConstitutionLincoln County’s legend
“We don’t blame if you don’t remember Tom Bunch. He was the Lincoln County High School football coach who stepped down in 1972 to make way for one of his assistants. That assistant was the yet-to-be-legendary Larry Campbell.”
Source: Augusta Chronicle

Richard Hyatt: Moving isn’t so easy anymore
“Moving is such sweet sorrow. An old address is left behind and new doors are opened, unlocking a new world with fresh paint and clean bathrooms.”
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Charlie Harper: The governor’s gun gathering
“Last Wednesday was an especially beautiful day for a drive up to Ellijay, Georgia. There, on the banks of the Coosawattee River, Governor Nathan Deal signed HB 60 — the “gun bill” — into law. Despite the location well off the beaten path — even well off the main road — the Governor wasn’t exactly alone for the bill signing.”
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Franklin Hogue: On representing a guilty person
“How can a criminal defense lawyer be doing a good thing by working toward a not guilty verdict in a case where he or she knows the client committed the crime?” It’s a fair question and one I answered for myself 25 years ago when I dedicated my professional career to criminal defense. I studied law under superb teachers at Mercer, one of whom gave the best answer to this question, an answer I adopted and later taught to my own students at Mercer these past dozen years in a class on advanced criminal trial techniques.”
Source: Macon Telegraph

Sonny Harmon: To crimp or not to crimp
“I don’t claim to be a consumer affairs expert, but I did buy one of those hoses that curl up like an accordion when you turn off the water. The expert on television told me my old hose would crimp with the water running and crimping, according to the experts, is just about the worst thing a hose can do. An old hose can leak, dribble at an inopportune time, or fly off the spigot, but if it crimps you’re in need of a hose specialist. And yes, this person can be found on television.”
Source: Macon Telegraph

More endorsements: Key choices to make
“Cobb Republicans have some key choices to make when they go to the polls for their party primary May 20. Not only will they be voting on nominees for governor, U.S. Senate, Congress and a variety of state-level offices, they also have choices to make for county-level positions.”
Source: Marietta Daily Journal

 

Gov. Deal vetos ten bills

Gov. Deal vetos ten bills
A look at the ten bills that were vetoed.
Source: AccessNorthGa.com

Gov. Deal vetoes private-probation and teacher benefits bill
Legislation that would have broadened the powers of private probation companies fell subject to Gov. Nathan Deal’s veto pen on Tuesday. Other bills hitting the same brick wall would have required more health insurance choices for teachers, state workers and retirees; centralized the registry of business trade names; and adjusted vehicle trade-in valuations.
Source: Athens Banner-Herald

Macon Telegraph: Political endorsements
A look at local races with endorsements.
Source: Macon Telegraph

Political Insider: King family: MLK statue bill clashes with guns, healthcare policy
“It’s rare to see both Bernice King and Martin Luther King III together outside of a courtroom. It’s rarer still to see them standing on either side of Republican Gov. Nathan Deal. That’s the scene that unfolded Tuesday as Deal signed legislation that would put a statue of the civil rights icon on the statehouse grounds. But the event quickly took on political undertones.”
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

 

Zell Miller Grant bill signed into law

 Zell Miller Grant bill signed into law
The Zell Miller Grant bill, which provides full tuition coverage for HOPE Grant-eligible technical college students who maintain at least a 3.5 grade point average on a scale of 4.0, was signed into law Tuesday.
Source: Albany Herald

 Moultrie Tech, Thomas University sign Memorandum of Understanding
The Memorandum of Understanding is an agreement between the two schools for classes at Moultrie Tech to count toward the corresponding Business degree programs at Thomas University.
Source: Thomasville Times Enterprise

Gas prices fall 2 cents

Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have fallen 2.0 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.67/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 gas outlets in Georgia. This compares with the national average that has fallen 1.4 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.64/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 26.1 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 15.9 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 9.2 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 13.4 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“Finally, the news motorists have been waiting for- it appears that at least for now, the national average has peaked,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Since February 7, gasoline prices have been on an upward trajectory in a majority of the U.S., and at least for now, prices have broken that upward trend and have stabilized. This is great news, as it likely means in the next couple weeks that gasoline prices will begin seeing more downward momentum . By Memorial Day, if there aren’t major refinery kinks that develop, we could see the national average dropping into the $3.50s, or perhaps even lower,” DeHaan said.

12 area men charged in drug trafficking conspiracy

A federal indictment was unsealed earlier this month which charges 12 defendants with conspiring to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone, and other drugs in Appling, Bacon, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Telfair, and Wayne Counties.

The charges resulted from a joint investigation by the DEA, the GBI, the Bacon County Sheriff’s Office, the Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office, the Ware County Sheriff’s Office, and with assistance from the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and the United States Marshal’s Service.

The Baxley News-Banner.

Columbia County ex-magistrate’s woes a headache for Augusta lawyer with same name

Columbia County Magistrate Judge Douglas G. Nelson stepped down Thursday after a local TV station aired a report in which several women accused him of improper conduct as a court-appointed guardian ad litem.

But Augusta attorney Douglas M. Nelson worries that the ex-magistrate’s sullied reputation and resignation will hurt his practice, as even more people confuse him with the ex-judge—who isn’t a lawyer—than have done so in the past.

“It’s been a bit trying having the same name as a local magistrate, especially in a small area like this,” said lawyer Nelson, whose practice in Augusta in Richmond County places him adjacent to Columbia County. “If you look him up in the phone book, you don’t find him—you find me. I’m the only lawyer named Doug Nelson around here, so people just automatically assume it’s me.”

The scandal, he said, “is not good for business, and it’s not good for my reputation.”

According to a report by Augusta television station Fox54 WFXG, the Columbia County sheriff is investigating complaints by two women who said former magistrate Nelson rubbed and stroked them in 2011 and 2012 when he was serving as a court-appointed guardian ad litem; the story also said that others claimed Nelson had sent them suggestive text messages. Fox54 reporter Nick Lulli reported that Nelson denied the incidents occurred and sent Lulli a text message denying the claims, saying “these women are looking for a reason to get back in court.”

The Daily Report.

Valdosta shooting victim dies; suspect caught in Florida

A shooting incident Saturday left a man dead and police seeking a murder warrant against a suspect being held in Florida, according to the police chief.

Brian Levon Charlton-Simmons, 18, of Valdosta, was apprehended by the Hamilton County, Fla., Sheriff’s Office and was being held in Hamilton County Saturday evening following an afternoon shooting in Valdosta, said Valdosta Police Chief Brian Childress.

Valdosta Daily Times.

Feeling the squeeze: Savannah bars, restaurants hit by lime shortage

From its freshly squeezed margaritas to tableside guacamole to tart ceviche, the menu at Tequila’s Town on Whitaker Street relies heavily on the humble lime — and that’s a problem.

A nationwide shortage of limes, the majority of which are grown in Mexico, is putting the squeeze on restaurants and bars across the country, including many establishments in Savannah.

According to Tequila’s Town owner, Temo Ortiz, the price on a case of limes has skyrocketed in the last two months from about $20 to more than $100, and sometimes as high as $140.

“There was a time when three different distributors didn’t have any limes in stock,” said Ortiz. “We had to go to Publix and Sam’s Club, and it’s been really complicated. It’s ridiculous.”

Ortiz says his restaurant goes through about four cases of limes a week, sometimes more, and can’t use substitutes.

savannahnow.com.

Fire closes Savannah’s Betty Bombers, American Legion on Bull Street

An early morning kitchen fire Saturday has forced a popular watering hole and restaurant in Savannah’s Victorian districts to temporarily close.

A fire broke out about 5:30 a.m. at Betty Bombers All-American Eatery, located inside the American Legion Post 135 on Bull Street just south of Forsyth Park, said Daniel Mulder, the building’s manager.

The fire, which Mulder said was believed to be electrical in nature, caused heavy smoke damage throughout the building, but no one was injured.

He said no one was in the building at the time of the fire.

A post on the restaurant’s Facebook page Saturday morning informed customers that they would be closed until further notice.

savannahnow.com.

Red Lobster/Olive Garden closes in Thomasville

darden_lgSynergy restaurants at Palm Coast, Fla., Wilkesboro, N.C., Brunswick and Waycross will be converted into Olive Gardens.

The closing, which was announced to employees Saturday, is a result of Orlando, Fla.-based Darden Restaurants’ December 2013 decision to sell Red Lobster or spin it off as a publicly traded company, said Rich Jeffers, Darden Restaurants spokesman. “There’s a lot of work that’s going into that,” Jeffers told the Times-Enterprise Saturday. The Thomasville Red Lobster/Olive Garden, 254 Liberty St., is one of six Darden synergy restaurants that will close. The dual-restaurants arrangement cannot continue once Red Lobster is no longer part of Darden. “In Thomasville, the company, unfortunately, does not think we can operate successfully there today,” Jeffers explained. The other synergy restaurant that will close is in Beaufort, S.C. About 100 employees worked at the Thomasville business. They will be offered jobs at other Darden restaurants, including Longhorn in Thomasville and Longhorns, Red Lobsters and Olive Gardens in Valdosta and Tallahassee, Fla. Those who do not choose to go to local or area Darden restaurants will receive severance pay. Thomasville Times Enterprise.

Effignham officials uncover four meth labs

Barrs
Charles Edward Barrs

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office recovered four methamphetamine labs and arrested eight people on meth charges over a 10-day span ending Wednesday.

The ECSO Drug Suppression Unit recovered the labs as well as methamphetamine, pseudoephedrine and other items used to manufacture meth.

The labs were found “mostly in the Springfield and Guyton areas” and were in “close proximity” to each other, according to ECSO spokesman Detective David Ehsanipoor.

The 10-day operation stemmed from a long-term investigation in which investigators targeted people who have been illegally purchasing pseudoephedrine and providing it to the meth cooks, Ehsanipoor said.

“Unfortunately, methamphetamine, along with other drugs, is in every community, but we will not stick out heads in the sand and pretend it does not exist,” he said.

 

FEAR militia member gets life in Ludowici mursers

Former Forever Enduring Always Ready (FEAR) militia member Anthony Peden was sentenced Thursday to life in prison with the possibility of parole in the December 2011 murders of Tiffany York, 17, and Michael Roark, 19.

Peden, 28, and his co-defendant, Christopher Salmon, 27, pleaded guilty to the murders last month in Long County court. They were arrested more than two years ago following a investigation into the militia’s operation and the teens’ deaths at Morgan Lake.

via Bryan County News

Richmond Hill woman sentenced to seven years

In the end, Chatham County Superior Court Judge Timothy Walmsley said he couldn’t understand what led former Richmond Hill High School honor student and HOPE scholar Patricia Ann Collins to get behind the wheel on June 15, 2012, after drinking heavily at bars in Savannah.

“I just don’t get it. It just doesn’t make sense … there are probably some answers I’ll never get,” Walmsley said, shortly before he sentenced Collins, 25, to seven years in jail and eight years probation for the 2012 crash on I-95 that killed Bryan County Sheriff’s Deputy Sgt. Bobby Crapse.

Collins, who pleaded guilty to homicide by vehicle, faced a maximum of 15 years in prison for the crash, which occurred shortly after she’d consumed a list of alcoholic drinks – including a Long Island Iced Tea and a drink called the Mind Eraser – at two Savannah nightclubs before heading home.

via Bryan County News

Jacksonville man gets 12 years in prison for drug related shooting when robbery attempt backfired

A Jacksonville man will spend a dozen years in prison for a drug-related shooting.

Darren Jamal Jackson, 22, pleaded guilty earlier this week to second-degree murder and armed robbery. He was sentenced to 12 years in prison by Circuit Judge James Daniels and will get credit for the 870 days he’s already been in jail.

Jackson and Terrell Kraige Giles, 22, were both charged in the death of 23-year-old Dominique Deandre Starks. The three men went to the Deerfield Apartments in December 2011 to conduct a drug deal in the back seat of a car and rob the drug dealer, police said at the time.

Dorian Alexander Brown, 24, was in the back seat with Jackson when Starks jumped out of the front seat, pulled open the back door and pointed his gun at Brown, according to the arrest report.

But Brown shot him first and stayed at the scene and called 911. He was not charged in the shooting but has since been arrested twice on separate drug charges, jail records show.

Jackson and Giles were held responsible for the death of Starks. Giles has already pleaded guilty and been sentenced to six years in prison.

jacksonville.com.

Three SGSC students named to academic team

Three South Georgia State College students have been named to the All-Georgia Academic Team for the 2013-2014 academic year.  Michael D’Ambrosio of Blackshear, Ga., Paige Smith of Nicholls, Ga., and Nicole Spivey of Pearson, Ga., recently attended a luncheon in Atlanta where they were recognized for their selections.

wc winners
Three South Georgia State College students were recently named to the All-Georgia Academic Team. (L-R): Nicole Spivey, Paige Smith, SGSC President Dr. Virginia Carson, and Michael D’Ambrosio.

“It is always a great day for South Georgia State College when our students are recognized for their academic success,” said Dr. Virginia Carson, president of South Georgia State College.  “It was a proud moment for me and a tremendous honor to watch these students receive their well-deserved recognitions.”

            D’Ambrosio is pursuing an associate’s degree in business administration; Smith is working towards an associate’s degree in English; and Spivey is pursuing an associate’s degree in biology.

Smith and Spivey serve as officers of the Kappa Sigma Chapter of Phi Theta Kappa International Honor Society (PTK) on the Douglas Campus.  D’Ambrosio is an officer of the Alpha Rho Omega Chapter of PTK on the Waycross Campus.  He also serves as President of the Georgia Region of PTK.

“I am proud of our representatives on the All-Georgia team and what they mean to our College,” said Amy Hancock, PTK advisor.  “These students represent the best and brightest, and I am pleased they were honored for their commitment and dedication to their Phi Theta Kappa chapter and also to their academic achievements.”

The three students were among 23 named to the All-Georgia Academic Team from nine University System of Georgia institutions.  Nominations to the team are based on academic performance as well as college and community service.  All-Georgia Academic Team members are also nominated to the All-USA Academic Team.

The All-Georgia Academic Team is sponsored by PTK, two-year college presidents, and community college state associations.

PTK is the largest honor society in American higher education with more than 1,285 chapters on two-year and community college campuses in the United States, Canada, Germany, Peru, the Republic of Palau, the Republic of the Marshall Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, the British Virgin Islands, the United Arab Emirates, and U.S. territorial possessions.  More than 2.5 million students have been inducted since PTK’s founding in 1918.  Approximately 135,000 students are inducted annually into the organization.

Pierce schools top average on state report card

Pierce County got B’s across the board and scored better than the region and the state in this year’s College and Career Ready Performance Index (CCRPI).

The CCRPI is a 100 point scale used to determine how well Georgia’s schools are educating students. The index replaces Annual Yearly Progress (AYP).

Local educators are generally pleased with the “grades” they earned in the Index.

“We have the highest scores in the RESA and in the state,” says superintendent Terri DeLoach. “I am very proud of the improvements that we made this year. The results are a testament to the hard work of our students and teachers.”

DeLoach noted that Pierce County’s results remained high even as the scoring criteria for achievement changed.

“In systems that have high achievement in the past, you don’t have much room for improvement,” she says.

via The Blackshear Times

Army sergeant gets life in Ludowici slayings of 17-year-old girl and her boyfriend

Saying his mind was scarred by combat and numbed by heroin, an Army soldier told a southeast Georgia judge Thursday that he shot a teenage girl twice in the head because he thought he saw “the glint of a gun” as she opened her car door.

Sgt. Anthony Peden, 28, was sentenced to life in prison nearly a month after he pleaded guilty to murder charges in the December 2011 slayings of 17-year-old Tiffany York and her boyfriend, former soldier Michael Roark. Prosecutors say the couple was led to the woods near Fort Stewart in Georgia and slain by a group of soldiers to protect an anti-government militia group they had formed inside the military.

Peden’s account sought to minimize his role. He said he wasn’t close to the soldiers who led the group and the night of the slayings was told only that they planned to collect money from the couple. He said someone handed him a gun, and after they drove out to the woods he saw Roark exit his car and get into a struggle with one of the other soldiers. Then the car’s passenger door began to open.

“I saw what I thought was the glint of a gun,” said Peden, who sniffled and cried throughout his sentencing hearing. “I fired twice at Tiffany York.”

Three other defendants who previously struck plea deals to avoid a possible death sentence had said Roark was suspected of taking money from the group and they feared he and York planned to expose the militia to police. They said Peden shot the girl before she could get out of her car, while Pvt. Christopher Salmon shot Roark on his knees.

jacksonville.com.

Columbia County judge resigns over misconduct allegations

A Columbia County magistrate judge resigned his office Thursday amid allegations that he had behaved inappropriately toward women he had encountered as a guardian ad litem, officials said.

Doug Nelson, who had been a magistrate judge since 2007, submitted his resignation at the Evans courthouse, said Columbia County Chief Magistrate Judge Jason Troiano. It was effective immediately, Troiano said.

Augusta Chronicle.

Daytime curfew aimed at children, parents

kidsChildren not in school during school hours have to answer to police about their activities. So do their parents.

A City of Thomasville daytime curfew applies to youngsters ages 7 to 15 between 8 a.m. and 3 p.m.

Some youngsters roam city streets during school hours, with parents not accountable and not knowing where their children are, said Thomasville police Chief Ellis Jackson.

The curfew is not in force when school is out and does not impact home-schooled children.

The chief said that during the past two years, children have committed crimes, such as burglaries, entering autos and stealing from yards. They also are fighting and loitering, all in the absence of parental supervision, the chief added.

At night, young offenders commit burglaries and felony-type assaults.

When children are located during curfew hours, police locate their parents and explain the curfew. Parents whose children continue to break the curfew ordinance are cited and must appear in court.

The curfew is not about bringing charges, but about parents knowing where their children are, the chief explained.

“These kids are out there wreaking havoc everywhere in the community,” Jackson said.

The youngsters might have been expelled from school or be skipping school. Jackson said those in in-school suspension should leave when the classes end and go home.

“It is working well. We’re seeing the difference,” Jackson said.

He said youngsters bent on committing crimes should know they will be charged.

Thomasville Times Enterprise.

Downtown’s Polaris to rotate once again

Polaris, the revolving restaurant atop Atlanta’s second-largest hotel, is set to reopen in June after closing a decade ago.

Downtown’s Hyatt Regency Atlanta on Thursday announced an official opening is planned for June 10. That day the hotel says it will relight its blue-domed restaurant, which has undergone an extensive renovation led by Atlanta’s The Johnson Studio.

The Polaris was renowned Atlanta architect John Portman’s first go at a revolving restaurant — and the tallest structure in the city when it opened in 1967. But it served its last meal in 2004.

The Polaris will rotate once again, making a full turn every 45 minutes. Guests will revolve around an open kitchen with full views of chefs preparing meals.

via Downtown’s Polaris to rotate once again – Atlanta Business Chronicle.

Watermelon crop faces plummeting prices

watermelonAn abundance of rainfall hurt last year’s watermelon crop in Georgia.  This year, late cold snaps stunted the growth of early-planted melons and may cause prices to plummet, say University of Georgia Extension experts.

Plants that have been in the ground since late March have felt a barrage of weather conditions: hot, sunny days; cold, windy days; and days filled with high precipitation. But, it’s the unseasonably cold days that have UGA vegetable horticulturist Tim Coolong worried.

“What I’m personally concerned about is, lets say you planted March 15 through the 20, but because of the cold, cloudy weather, those plants just sat there. Lets say you came back in with your second planting on April 1; many of those plantings, despite being planted two to two and halfweeks apart, look nearly identical because the cool, wet weather slowed things down so much,” Coolong said.

If the two plantings overlap at harvest time, the price farmers get for melons will go down.

“Where a grower might spread out his harvest over a month and a half, this year that harvest window may be tightened up, and that concerns me. If there’s a glut (surplus in the market), prices may drop,” Coolong said.

The watermelon crop in middle Florida has “been delayed a bit, too” due to cool weather, Coolong added. “I don’t know if they will be delayed enough to start to overlap with Georgia,” he said.

Thomasville Times Enterprise.

Wording mistake derails Effingham school board pay bill

Gov. Nathan Deal vetoed 10 bills this week and one of them concerns Effingham County.

He vetoed House Bill 1146, which would have increased the pay of school board members from $100 per meeting to $200 for board members and $250 for the chairman.

Deal said he vetoed the bill “because state appropriations are not an appropriate source for local board of education compensation funding.”

That money, he said, must come from local tax revenues.

The bill says the pay would come from state and local funds.

The word “state” should not have been in there, said school Superintendent Randy Shearouse.

He said local counsel didn’t catch the error but someone in the governor’s office did.

Shearouse said the board will ask lawmakers to try again next year, without the word “state.”

He said the fees haven’t been updated since the 1980s.

via Wording mistake derails Effingham school board pay bill | savannahnow.com.

Okefenokee Fire recognized for commitment

Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge is often noted for being at the center of large and complex wildfires.  This spring, the Okefenokee Fire Program is being recognized and awarded for the hard work and dedication in particular of two of the refuge personnel.

In late March, at the monthly Charlton County Fire Board Meeting, Terri Jenkins, Fire Management Specialist, was awarded the Firewise Leadership Award by the Georgia Forestry Commission.  “Terri Jenkins has been a huge part in outreach to landowners, fire departments, and local communities in Southeast Georgia.  Terri’s leadership has resulted in a half dozen new communities being recognized as Firewise.” states Eric Mosley, Wildfire Mitigation Program Manager for Georgia Forestry Commission.

“The local County Commissioners, landowners, and Fire Department look to Terri daily for advice.  With high fire occurrence in and around the Okefenokee National Wildlife Refuge the need for mitigation and education is important.”  Terri has 28 years of experience working on National Wildlife Refuges in the southeast, and Okefenokee is lucky to have had Terri here for the past four years.

Also recognized this spring was Rocky Chesser, Heavy Equipment Supervisor, as the recipient of the National Fire Safety Award at a formal ceremony in Atlanta.  “The Branch of Fire Management created the award to recognize outstanding leadership and service in wildland fire safety,” said John Segar, FWS Fire Director from the National Interagency Fire Center, who flew to Atlanta to present the award. “Rocky was chosen by an interagency panel for being key to ensuring a safe response to the 2011 Honey Prairie Fire.”  Rocky is an 18-year veteran of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and began his career at Okefenokee as an Engineering Equipment Operator (EEO) before being promoted four years ago.

“We are particularly proud of Rocky’s professionalism, leadership, and dedication to safe operations given the size and complexity of the Southeast’s fire program,” said Cindy Dohner, Regional Director for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Southeast Region.

“We are very proud of the fire program at Okefenokee NWR.  We think these two employees exemplify the dedication and expertise in working with the local community to manage fire effectively and safely” states Okefenokee Refuge Manager, Michael Lusk.

Georgia happenings

FRIDAY

Art Walk, 5-8 p.m., Main Street shops, galleries and restaurants, downtown Brunswick. Includes art openings, live music, food and beverage pairing samples. (912) 265-4032 or brunswickgeorgia.net.

“The Foreigner” by Larry Shue, presented by The Armstrong Masquers, 7:30 p.m. through Sunday, Armstrong Jenkins Hall Black Box Theater, 11935 Abercorn St., Savannah. $10; discounts available to military, seniors, alumni association members and students/children; staff, faculty and students with ID get in free. (912) 927-5381.

First Friday Fireworks, presented by the Savannah Waterfront Association, 9:30-10 p.m., Riverfront, Savannah. (912) 234-0295 or riverstreetsavannah.com.

jacksonville.com.

One charged in theft of railroad property in Brantley

4-28-14

groupDeputies responded to Eliza Nesby St. in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated someone stole a cell phone from their residence. 

Keith Bishop (32) was arrested and charged with Theft by Taking/Intruding on Railroad Property.  Deputies were called to Taylor Bay Rd at Break Rd in reference to suspicious people. Upon arrival they observed two men picking things up from the railroad tracks and placing it in the back of the truck.  One subject ran into the woods and the other (Bishop) drove the truck down to where the deputy was. CSX police was notified and responded to that location.  Bishop was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.  The other subject could not be found. 

Deputies responded to the 900 block of Little Buffalo Creek Rd.  in reference to Vicious Dogs.  Complainant stated that their neighbor’s dogs come into their yard and get into their trash and come after kids when they are outside. 

04-29-2014

Deputies responded to Satilla Kwik Stop in reference to a Theft by Taking that occurred in the 10000 block of Raybon Rd. West. Complainant stated that their prescription medication was taken. 

Deputies responded to the 100 block of Eliza Nesby St in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated the offender moved out of the residence and took several items that did not belong to them. Some of the items include a TV, cell phone and window unit. 

04-30-2014

Guy Steed (38) was arrested and charged with Possession and use of Drug Related Objects/Possession of Methamphetamine/Theft by Taking/Criminal Trespass/Burglary.  Deputies were flagged down on Barbara Branch Rd in reference to Mr. Steed being on the property earlier in the day.  Steed had stolen an ATV.  During a search of Steed incident to arrest methamphetamine and a set of scales was found on his person.   Steed was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center. 

James Sellers (56) was arrested and charged with DUI. Someone had called into 911 to report a driver on the wrong side of the road on Ga Hwy 520.  Deputies made a traffic stop on the vehicle and immediately noticed signs of intoxication.  Field sobriety tests were performed including an alcosensor and it was confirmed Sellers was intoxicated. Sellers was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

05-01-2014

Deputies responded to 1st Avenue in reference to Theft by Taking/Criminal Trespass/Burglary.  Complainant stated that step ladders, TV’s and other items were taken from a rental house. 

Deputies responded to Warner’s Landing in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated that several items were stolen from their home. 

 

CCG sets art exhibit for May 9

The College of Coastal Georgia 2014 Student Art Exhibit will close Friday, May 9, with a reception from 4-7 p.m. in the atrium of the Southeast Georgia Conference Center. The reception and exhibit are free and open to the public.

Students whose works will be exhibited include Caroline Brownlee, Natalie Brownlee, DeLinlee Rouse, Stephanie Adams, Cameron Griffith, Harvest Hale, Ashley Nunn, Ayla Wilson, Stacy Crane, Emily Axelson, Andrew Downes, Lauren Smith and Dora Kempainnen.

In addition to mixed media, the exhibit will showcase drawings, paintings and sculpture created by the students during the course of the academic year.

 Jeff LeMieux, Associate Professor of Fine Art, is curator of the student show. The exhibit opened April 11 and continues through Friday, May 9 in the conference center atrium.

Time to restructure testing?

Time to Restructure Testing?

By Kelly McCutchen

Across Georgia, tension is in the air as 1.6 million students endure the annual ritual of end-of-year testing. Nervous students, parents and teachers feel the pressure: The efforts of an entire year hinge upon the performance at this one point in time.

Without a doubt, testing has a vital and necessary role in education. Why else would private schools test their students even though it is not mandated? When used appropriately, testing analyzes strengths and weaknesses, gaps in knowledge and progress toward the ultimate goal of graduation and success. In a perfect world, the results inform educators who then use that information to improve how they teach.

The current testing regime, however, isn’t living up to its potential. It has become counter-productive rather than effective as a diagnostic tool.

If the ultimate goal is to help our teachers prepare students for graduation, Georgia is falling far short: Our graduation rates consistently fall near the bottom of the barrel.

High-stakes testing creates pressure to cheat, as has been recently witnessed in our state. There is also pressure to dumb down the test to improve scores.

Georgia test results indicate a high percentage of our students are proficient in reading and math. More rigorous national tests such as the National Assessment of Educational Progress, however, show much lower levels of proficiency. Georgia’s gap, in fact, is the largest in the nation. This false sense of achievement is a great disservice to students and parents.

As an indicator of school quality, even parents value test scores less than one would think, according to a recent study by the Friedman Foundation for Educational Choice. In fact, Georgia parents view student safety, class size, classroom discipline, high school completion and post-secondary success as more important than standardized test scores.

If you have children or spend much time around them, you know that every child is unique. They learn at different speeds and in different ways. They may excel in some subjects and struggle in others.

Under the current one-size-fits-all model, students are forced to conform to the model instead of the model being personalized for the student. Teachers get a fixed amount of time to teach each course and, except in highly unusual circumstances, students are moved forward to the next course even if they failed to master much of the material.

The end-of-year model of testing students is like an autopsy – we get the results after it’s too late to do anything about it.

A more effective strategy, mastery-based learning, would turn this model on its head. Rather than time being constant and learning variable, the learning becomes constant for each child and time becomes the variable. This requires a simple but significant change in testing.

The test questions can remain the same. But these long, cumulative end-of-year tests must be restructured, broken up into shorter tests that are available on demand throughout the year – as students are ready for them. Just as End-of-Course Tests have replaced final exams for many high school courses in Georgia, these smaller tests could replace existing teacher-designed tests based on smaller units of material.

The approach is already being used in New Hampshire and in many “blended learning” schools across the country. End-of-year tests could still be given to serve as a benchmark, but much less frequently.

Georgia has an opportunity to truly personalize education by eliminating cookie-cutter tests that prioritize the calendar over the children. Enabling students to move at their individual pace will allow teachers the flexibility to fill in knowledge gaps and free up teaching time from test preparation. The approach will produce the results that strong accountability systems promised.

Kelly McCutchen is president of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation, an independent think tank that proposes market-oriented approaches to public policy to improve the lives of Georgians. Nothing written here is to be construed as necessarily reflecting the views of the Georgia Public Policy Foundation or as an attempt to aid or hinder the passage of any bill before the U.S. Congress or the Georgia Legislature.

Sumpter schools show improvement

Sumter County Schools improved its CCRPI (College and Career Ready Performance Index) in 2013 compared to the system’s scores from the previous year, according to data released by the Georgia Department of Education.
Source: Americus Times-Recorder

Thomas University’s commencement moves indoors due to weather threat
More than 290 students will receive associate, bachelor’s or master’s degrees during the ceremony. Major General (Retired) Bernard “Burn” Loeffke will serve as the speaker.
Source: Thomasville Times Enterprise

New Georgia scholarship formed by anonymous donor
University System officials said that the donor’s $25,000 gift will benefit students enrolled in the state’s Early College Program, and the money can be used to help students attend any of the university system’s 31 institutions.
Source: WSAV-TV

University of West Georgia raises $6.7 million
Source: WSAV-TV

Columbus High ranked fourth in state
Columbus High is ranked No. 4 in the state and No. 104 in the nation.
Source: Columbus Ledger-Enquirer

Macon Charter Academy delays opening
The Macon Charter Academy, which was scheduled to open in August, has delayed its opening by one year because of construction concerns.
Source: Macon Telegraph

Principals in Gwinnett County get creative with snow makeup days
Principals have added an extra 30 minutes per day to make up for the snow days.
Source: Gwinnett Daily Post

 

Carrolton restaurants to feature local goat cheese

Several Villa Rica restaurants to feature local goat cheese
Gabe’s, Uncorked on Main and Southern Table restaurants will soon be featuring Capra Gia Cheese Co.’s goat cheese made the old-fashioned way.
Source: Carrollton Times-Georgian

 Trinity Rail plant to return to Cartersville
A little more than five years after Trinity Rail announced layoffs at its Cartersville facility, the company is seemingly working to reactivate the plant.
Source: Cartersville Daily Tribune

 Belk’s to hold Spring Charity Sale
Belk will provide an opportunity Saturday for customers to support local charities while taking advantage of special discounts of 20 to 70 percent off of purchases during the event.
Source: Milledgeville Union-Recorder

Marietta Development Authority gives grant to Red Hare Brewing
Red Hare Brewing Co. was approved for a second development authority grant Wednesday to fund a brewery expansion its owners have said will create 20 full-time jobs.
Source: Marietta Daily Journal

Atlanta was under consideration for new Toyota headquarters
Toyota chose Texas in the end.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Coca-Cola may revise its executive compensation plan after Warren Buffett’s comments
Buffett, chairman and CEO of Berkshire Hathaway Inc., said he thinks Coca-Cola’s equity compensation plan is “excessive.” Berkshire Hathaway holds 9 percent of Coke’s shares.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

AT&T considers acquisition of DirecTV
A deal would likely be worth at least $40 billion.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

 

Dems out pace GOP in early voting

Democrats outpace Republicans in early voting ballots in Rockdale County
Source: Rockdale Citizen

Gov. Deal hits Obamacare twice on last day of bill signing
On Tuesday’s legal deadline for the governor to sign bills passed during this year’s General Assembly session, Deal put his signature on legislation that will make it more difficult for Georgia to expand Medicaid coverage under the Affordable Care Act and prohibit the state from spending any money helping citizens enroll in health coverage offered through the law.
Source: Atlanta Business Chronicle

Political Notebook, Gwinnett: Basketball legend Dikembe Mutombo helps Nunn campaign
“Michelle Nunn hopes to block Republican’s shot at keeping Georgia’s U.S. Senate seat this year, just like Dikembe Mutombo blocked shots in the NBA. Nunn welcomed Mutombo to her team this week, with the sports legend introducing Nunn’s new ad focusing on following her father Sam Nunn’s footsteps as a high school basketball player long before working to follow him as a senator.”
Source: Gwinnett Daily Post

Political Insider: Jason Carter — ‘This election is not going to be about guns’
“Democratic state Sen. Jason Carter became one of the hardest folks to track down last week as Gov. Nathan Deal signed a broad expansion of gun rights into law. He turned to a familiar audience Wednesday to explain his vote for the measure, which disappointed many supporters and donors backing him in his quest for governor.”
Source: Atlanta Journal-Constitution

A look at Democrats’ way of countering Obamacare
Senate Republicans on Wednesday used a procedural vote to block Democrats from raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 an hour. But just as Republicans hammer away at the Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare, day in and day out, expect Democrats to keep pounding at this issue and others related to their agenda of economic fairness.
Source: Christian Science Monitor

Dougherty County candidates hold meet-and-greet
Republican Ewell Lyle and Democrat Aaron Johnson hosted the joint event.
Source: Albany Herald

Mammogram screening offered in area

wow-crop-p3The Southeast Georgia Health System Wellness on Wheels (WOW) mobile health vehicle will provide screenings at the following locations during the month of May. Please note that all mammograms require a physician’s order; insurance is accepted and financial assistance is available to patients who qualify.

•              Monday-Tuesday, May 5-6, 8 a.m.-3 p.m.

Glynn County Health Department, 2747 4th St., Brunswick

Call 912-279-3351 for information.

•              Wednesday, May 7, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

McIntosh County Health Department, 1335 GA Hwy 57, Townsend

Call 912-832-5473 ext. 110 for information.

•              Thursday, May 8, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

McIntosh Family Medicine Center, 311 GA Hwy 251, Darien

Call 912-466-5857 for information.

•              Monday, May 12, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Brantley Family Medicine Center, 21300 Hwy 82, Waynesville

Call 912-466-5941 for information.

•              Tuesday, May 13, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

McKinney Community Health Center, 122 N. Main St., Nahunta

Call 912-462-6222 for information.

•              Wednesday, May 14, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Camden County Health Department, 905 Dilworth St., St. Marys

Call 912-882-8515 for information.

•              Thursday, May 15, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

Camden County Health Department, 1501 Georgia Ave., Woodbine

Call 912-576-3040 for information.

•              Wednesday, May 21, 8:30 a.m.-3 p.m.

IGA Supermarket, U.S. Hwy 84, Ludowici

Call 912-545-2107 ext. 233 for information.

If you would like to schedule the WOW mobile health vehicle for your not-for-profit event or to provide screenings to employees at your place of business, please call the Southeast Georgia Health System Health, Promotion & Wellness department at 912-466-5160.

Okefenokee NWR announces events for May

OkefenokeeNWR-signOkefenokee National Wildlife Refuge will be offering an array of activities for families to enjoy throughout the month of May. Every Saturday, new programs will be offered. Unless otherwise noted, all programs will meet in the Visitor Center.

For anyone interested in reserving group programming, refuge staff and volunteers are available most Saturdays, as well as during the week to provide programming options to school groups, scout groups, and other organized groups visiting the refuge. Programs are available for all ages, but require a reservation. Trips should be scheduled at least two weeks in advance. For questions, or to schedule a program, contact the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836.

Saturday, May 3
Okefenokee Critters, 1:00-1:30 pm
Feathered or furry, slithery or slimy, Okefenokee Swamp is filled with interesting critters. Come and learn to identify animals by their sounds, skins, skulls, and scat! Meet in the Visitor Center.

Animal Olympics for Kids (big or little), 1:00-2:00 pm
Animals can perform amazing feats of Olympic proportions! Can you balance as good as a Great Blue Heron, or flap your “wings” as fast as a bat? Find out what it’s like to compete against an animal in the Olympics on our obstacle course. Bring sturdy shoes and water. Meet in the Visitor Center.

Saturday, May 10, International Migratory Bird Day!
Come and join us to celebrate International Migratory Bird Day! Activities available all day, and fun for the whole family! Join rangers and volunteers for FREE fun including arts and crafts, stories, games, hikes, and more! All to celebrate and learn more about birds! Boat tours offered all day for a fee by Okefenokee Adventures. Activities will be on-going throughout the day and located at the Visitor Center.

Guided Birding Hike, 8:00-11:00 am
Visit several birding locations and learn more about neotropical migrants, woodpeckers, and other birds here during their migration. Bring binoculars, water, and wear comfortable shoes. All experience levels welcome. Meet at the Visitor Center. Registration required, contact the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register.

Bird Activities and Crafts, On-going from 10:00-3:00 pm
Stop by the Visitor Center to create make and take bird crafts. Create your own bird anti-collision window ornament, pine cone bird feeder, bird hand puppets, and more! Join a ranger to measure your wingspan and compare it to birds like the bald eagle, great blue heron, or California Condor! Learn and listen to bird calls. Touch table and games will be on-going, along with storytelling, and more!

Owl Pellets, 1:00-1:30 pm
Join a ranger to dissect owl pellets! This is a hands-on, “down and dirty” program centered on owls. Learn about the general biology of these amazing animals, including where they live, what they eat, how they use their senses and other physical attributes to hunt their prey. Limited space available. Registration required, contact the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register.

Bird’s the Word, 2:00-2:30 pm
Join a ranger to learn all about the cool adaptations that help birds fly, eat, and even dive. Find out what makes birds cool and fun to watch! Registration required, contact the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register.

Beginner Birding for Kids & Families, 3:00-3:30 pm
Interested in learning more about bird watching, and how to make it a fun, family activity? Join a ranger for an introduction to the basics of birding, and learn that it’s not at all hard to get started. Meet at the Visitor Center. Registration required, contact the Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register.

Saturday, May 17
Dress an Oke Firefighter, 2:00-2:30 pm

Fire is an important part of the Okefenokee ecosystem. From scheduled and monitored prescribed burns, to outbreaks of wildfire, the Okefenokee fire crew is always prepared. Come learn what it takes to be on the fire line. Learn about fire in the swamp and see the gear it takes to “dress an Okefenokee firefighter.”

Owl Prowl, 7:00-9:00 pm
Join refuge rangers for a stroll down Chesser Island Boardwalk at sunset. Climb the Owls Roost Tower and experience an Okefenokee evening. Look, listen, and learn of nocturnal creatures of the swamp. Registration and $5 fee required. Contact the refuge Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register. Limited space available. Meet at the Visitor Center parking lot.

Saturday, May 24
Pond Study, 2:00-3:00 pm
Have you ever seen a baby dragonfly? Caught a tadpole in a net?  There’s more to a pond than what you see on the surface. Amazing wildlife lives in and around ponds. Use our dip nets and microscopes to explore life in a wet place.  Registration required. Contact the refuge Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register. Limited space available. Meet at the Visitor Center.

Owl Prowl, 7:00-9:00 pm
Join refuge rangers for a stroll down Chesser Island Boardwalk at sunset. Climb the Owls Roost Tower and experience an Okefenokee evening. Look, listen, and learn of nocturnal creatures of the swamp. Registration and $5 fee required. Contact the refuge Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register. Limited space available. Meet at the Visitor Center parking lot.

Saturday, May 31
Suitcase for Survival, 2:00-2:30 pm
The U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service works hard to protect endangered species. Come and take a closer look at species you wouldn’t normally think about. Learn about endangered species, biodiversity, and reasons why we should protect them.  Even see real confiscated animal items from all over the world!

Owl Prowl, 7:00-9:00 pm
Join refuge rangers for a stroll down Chesser Island Boardwalk at sunset. Climb the Owls Roost Tower and experience an Okefenokee evening. Look, listen, and learn of nocturnal creatures of the swamp. Registration and $5 fee required. Contact the refuge Visitor Center at 912-496-7836 to register. Limited space available. Meet at the Visitor Center parking lot.

DNR offering boater education classes in Brantley, Camden, Glynn

The Georgia Department of Natural Resources will teach boater education classes in Glynn, Camden and Brantley counties through early October.

Georgia law has changed and anyone born after Jan. 1, 1998, is required to take the class to operate a boat in state waters. Each of the classes lasts eight hours.

In Glynn County, the classes will be offered from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. May 17, June 14, July 12 and Aug. 9. The class will be split into two night sessions from 6 until 10 p.m. Sept. 9 and 11.

The Glynn County classes will be held in the Susan Shipman building at the DNR’s Brunswick office at 1 Conservation Way at the northern foot of the Sidney Lanier Bridge.

In Brantley County, the classes will be offered from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m., June 7, July 26 and Aug. 16. The nighttime class will be held Sept. 16 and 18 from 6 until 10 p.m. Those classes will be at the Brantley County Library on U.S. 82 in Nahunta.

In Camden County, there will be two day-long classes and three other sessions spread over two nights.

The single day classes will be June 21 and July 19, also from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m.

The 6 until 10 p.m. classes will be held May 20 and 22, Aug. 5 and 7 and Sept. 30 and Oct. 2.

Anyone who wishes to attend any of the classes should register by calling DNR’s Brunswick office at (912) 264-7237.

jacksonville.com.

Homerville girl one of two to earn spot in Georgia All-College Band

Rising Shorter University junior Christina Henderson, of Homerville, Ga., made fifth chair in clarinet, and rising senior Smokey Rowell, of Rome, was selected as third chair saxophone. (Contributed photo)

Shorter University’s instrumental program celebrates the success of two students who have been selected to join the Georgia All-College Band, which is made up of college students throughout Georgia.

Rising junior Christina Henderson, of Homerville, Ga., made fifth chair in clarinet, and rising senior Smokey Rowell, of Rome, was selected as third chair saxophone.

To be considered for the Georgia All-College Band, each student submitted a recorded, pre-selected piece of music to a committee organized by the Georgia Music Educators Association (GMEA). The committee selected the top students for each instrument.

“Being selected for All-College Band is an honor, and I am extremely blessed to have this opportunity,” Henderson, who has been playing clarinet for nine years, said.

Dr. John Reams, assistant professor of woodwinds, said both students take the pursuit of excellence in their degrees very seriously.

“Tina and Smokey are always working to improve their craft,” he said. “This is an honor for the students and this program. We have seen so much success in the instrumental program, and our goal is to continue to see it grow a little each year in terms of numbers and success.”

Northwest Georgia News

Were Feds involved with insider trading at GM?

The final numbers are in, and according to Reuters, we, the taxpayers, lost $11.2 billion on the General Motors bailout.

However, the bigger question is if Obama officials who were involved in the oversight of operations at GM, were aware of the decade old faulty ignition switch problem that has created a new, gigantic liability for the automaker, prior to dumping the GM shares on the market?

It seems hard to believe that Obama Administration officials were unaware of the problem and the liability associated with it, given their purported direct involvement in the running of the company.

And now that the stock has been sold to unsuspecting saps, the company is being subjected to an alphabet soup of agencies conducting investigations including the Justice Department, various auto safety regulators and even the Securities and Exchange Commission.

A private investor in a similar circumstance would be in big trouble facing probable jail time.  After all, Martha Stewart went to the pokey for a lot less.

However, it is unlikely that deposed Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner will be held accountable, as we know he is too unskilled at even the basics of personal finance (can’t figure Turbo Tax out) to know that a massive recall for a product that caused more than thirty deaths would be a bad thing for a company’s stock price.

The same federal government that went hard after Toyota on trial lawyer driven accusations about sticking gas pedals, apparently was unaware that the company that they were the largest shareholder was concealing a much more deadly and real problem.

But now that the stock has been dumped, the current shareholders who should have felt assured that the auto giant had a clean bill of healthy based upon the federal government’s ownership and direct oversight find themselves holding the bag.

In other auto news, the Toyota Corporation announced that they are moving their U.S. headquarters to Plano, Texas, abandoning their decades old commitment to the state of California, and a state of the art headquarters building.  Just a few years earlier, Toyota officials had assured everyone that they were California lifers, after Nissan moved their headquarters from the Los Angeles area to Nashville, Tennessee.

Automotive News reports that the suburban city of Torrance will lose approximately $1.2 million a year in tax revenues due to the move.

With both Nissan and Toyota gone, one wonders how long it will take for the Honda Corporation to abandon Torrance as well.

The coastal corridor south of the Los Angeles International Airport once headquartered many of the defense and auto industry giants.  Now towns like El Segundo, which recently lost Raytheon Space and Airborne Systems to Texas, are struggling to make up both the lost revenue and the prestige of being home to some of the world’s largest corporations.

Yet, as those local towns suffer, the engineers, accountants and other high skilled workers who are having to choose between moving with their job or finding a new one in a job market where fewer employers need their expertise are the real victims.

At one point, California was known as the golden state.  Now in a perverse kind of reverse alchemy, the state’s politicians are turning that gold into lead.  At some point the citizens may figure out that elections have consequences, but it is more likely that they will never connect the dots on why a company would even consider moving from the beautiful California coastline to the flat, dreary town of Plano.

Rick Manning (@rmanning957) is vice president of public policy and communications for Americans for Limited Government.  He is a native southern Californian, and has been to Plano, Texas on multiple occasions.

Port of Brunswick wins Honda import deal

The Georgia Ports Authority has won new import business from Honda. The 2015 Honda Fit, built at the carmaker’s new plant in Celaya, Mexico, is moving into the U.S. through the Port of Brunswick. International Auto Processing (IAP) will handle the cars upon arrival.

“Highlighting the truly global nature of auto manufacturing, a Japanese company building cars in Mexico has chosen Georgia’s deepwater ports as a vital gateway to the U.S.,” said GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz. “These shipments will serve dealers in major markets across the Southeast.”

While Honda has been exporting U.S.-made vehicles through Brunswick, this is the first time Honda imports will move through the GPA. Honda will also deliver the 2015 Fit to East Coast markets through Davisville, R.I., and Baltimore, Md.

Dennis Manns, American Honda’s assistant vice president for sales and logistics planning, said the company is the first automotive manufacturer that has created a multi-faceted approach of distribution from Mexico to the U.S., including both rail and short sea.

“The use of short sea provides Honda with an alternative to ensure a high quality and consistent level of service to our dealers,” Manns said. The Honda de Mexico team and American Honda have been collaborating closely to ensure a smooth launch and service to U.S. markets, he added.

via Port of Brunswick Wins Honda Import Deal.

Waycross native Tommy L. Everett dies at 65

Tommy L. Everett, 65, of Quincy, FL, passed away Sunday, April 27, 2014 in Tallahassee. He was born in Waycross, Georgia, and had lived in Quincy the past 25 years. He was a member of Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Quincy where he was very active and served as a Deacon. He was retired from Super-Valu of Quincy and was the former co-owner of Bradley’s IGA in Chattahoochee.

Service were held Tuesday, April 29, 2014, at 11:00 AM at Hillcrest Cemetery in Quincy, with Rev. Greg Kell and Rev. Rob Coram officiating.

He is survived by his wife, Phyllis Ann Spears Everett of Quincy; son, Phillip Lamar Everett and wife LaDonna and their son Andrew of Tampa, FL; son, Clay Tullos and wife Rhonda and their daughter Jessica Tullos and son Brian Tullos of Tallahassee; sister, Betty Christmas and husband Johnny of Waycross GA; sister, Linda Fiveash and husband Dennis of Waycross, GA; brother, Robert “Teddy” Everett and wife Jeanette of Blackshear, GA.

Tommy was predeceased by his mother, Theo Smith Everett; father, E. M. “Bo” Everett, Sr.; brother, Edwin “Eddie” M. Everett, Jr.; sister, Virginia M. Harper.

Memorial contributions may be made to Thomas Memorial Baptist Church, 1001 W. Washington St., Quincy, FL 32351 or the American Diabetes Association, P. O. Box 11454, Alexandria, VA 22312.

Charles McClellan Funeral Home, Quincy, FL, (850) 627-7677, is in charge of arrangements.

Havana Herald.

7 Reasons Not to Use Internet Explorer ever, ever again

Since the recent security lockdown of Internet Explorer (IE) yesterday (read more here) I figured I should write a post to all those people who still may actually be using IE

Drum roll please…

Reason #1 – IE is broken beyond repair. Literally there is no solution.

“We are currently unaware of a practical solution to this problem,” the Department of Homeland Security’s United States Computer Emergency Readiness Team said in a post Monday morning.

Reason #2 – You are safer from targeted software viruses

Because IE was used for so long and by so many people (and it still is to some extent), hackers find it an extremely valuable target to attack very large groups of people. You can be less vulnerable by choosing other browsers or using an Apple product.

Reason #3 – Microsoft is a little slow

In addition, I get the feeling that Microsoft is just slow in fixing Internet Explorer bugs. The last release of IE patches included a fix to a bug that Microsoft had been told about six months ago.

Reason #4 – IE interprets code differently

There are certain “universal” standards by which just about every internet browser interprets coding. This consistency is what allows websites to maintain their design and functionality across multiple browsers on a variety of devices. While most companies work to keep these standards, Microsoft opted to follow their own set of rules. Because of this, you encounter websites that either look incorrect on Internet Explorer or just flat out break.

Reason #5 – No automatic updates

Internet Explorer does not automatically check for out of date plugins / extensions and prompt you to update them – both Firefox and Chrome do this. Out of date plugins are a favorite method hackers use to get inside your computer. In Chrome the most commonly attacked plugins (Adobe Flash and Adobe Reader) run in a safe area of your computer called a “sandbox” so, even if they are compromised, they can’t actually do any damage.

Reason #6 – No synchronization

If you use multiple computers, both Firefox and Chrome have built-in features to synchronize bookmarks and more between different instances of the browser. Internet Explorer (at least up to version 8) can’t do this.

Reason #7 – No compatibility

There hasn’t been a version of IE for Mac since Safari was developed in 2003 despite the fact that there is a Windows version of Safari. Frankly, what Mac user would want it? The lack of compatibility, particularly with mobile devices and the iPad, makes IE nearly obsolete.

Conclusion

With other great options available at no-cost, there are very few reasons to continue using Internet Explorer.

What do you think? Will you make the switch or have you already? Tell me why or why not @ZachOnLinkedIn

And don’t forget to follow me on LinkedIn if you haven’t already!

Feel free to connect with me and send me ideas for future posts (especially if you didn’t like this one!)

LinkedIn.

Augusta woman sentenced to 280 months in fraud scheme

Regina M. Preetorius, 47, of Augusta was sentenced yesterday to 280 months in prison by U. S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall for her role in a multi-million dollar investor fraud scheme.  After a lengthy jury trial in September 2013, Preetorius was convicted of eight counts of mail fraud, two counts of wire fraud, and three counts of money laundering.

 Evidence presented at trial and during sentencing showed that between 2004 and 2009, Preetorius defrauded dozens of investors out of homes and over $1 million.  The victims included private investors and distressed homeowners facing imminent foreclosure.  Preetorius promised certain investors that that they would make enormous returns off of their investments in real estate; instead, Preetorius used the homes and money to support her lavish lifestyle.

United States Attorney Edward J. Tarver said, “This defendant stole millions of dollars in money and property from dozens of victims.  Preetorius’s promises of realizing the American Dream quickly turned to nightmares for her victims.  She now has over two decades in a federal prison cell to sleep on the harm she has caused others.”

 In addition to the ordered term of imprisonment, Preetorius was ordered to pay $1,457,374.67 in restitution.  After Preetorius is released from prison, she will serve three years of supervised release.  Regarding the length of the prison sentence, Mr. Tarver noted that parole was abolished in the federal system in 1984.

 FBI Special Agent Paul Kubala and IRS-CI Special Agent Roger Garland conducted the investigation which led to the indictment.  Assistant United States Attorney C. Troy Clark and former Assistant United States Attorney David M. Stewart prosecuted the case on behalf of the United States.  For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

Office sale Saturday

We’ll be having another big sale at the former office of the Brantley Enterprise Saturday. Everything’s on the inside so it’s rain or shine.

Inventory

Canon copy machine (Needs new drum unit @ $200). $900

Two iMac computers with Intel chip. $500 each

8-foot conference table $200

Four big conference table chairs $100 each

Three desk chairs $50 each

Three Nortel phones $25 each

Coffee brewer/dispenser $20

Refrigerator $50

Keurig coffeemaker $75

Nikon D100 camera and 35-70 lens $200

Two mini-dv video cameras $50 each

Samsung 27-inch TV $100

Large office desk $200

Two brown leather chairs $20 each

Two wingback guest chairs $75

One end table $50

Wall art(2) $50

Persian design area rug $50

Two U-shape work stations $50 each

Water cooler $50

Small bar unit $20

Flatbed document scanner $25

Canon AIO printer $20

Total$3850

Or buy it all for $2500!

Body found ‘under suspicious circumstances’ in Ware

Ware County Sheriff’s deputies responded Sunday at 7:02 a.m. to the report of a body lying on the ground at the intersection of East Maple Drive and Hampton Road.

Deputies arrived and determined the man died “under suspicious circumstances,” Royal said. Ware County EMTs and Ware County Coroner Atha Lucas arrived soon thereafter. The coroner pronounced the man, identified by deputies as Rodreze Deon Williams, 35, of 1650 Marion St., to be dead, Royal said.

The GBI was contacted and crime scene technicians were requested.

Technicians and a GBI special agent arrived to process evidence at the scene and assist the sheriff’s officers with the investigation, Royal said.

“What I’m giving you is the extent of what I can give out,” the sheriff said, “without compromising the ongoing investigation.”

Obituary: Donald Fountain

Donald J. Fountain, 65 of Hortense died Sunday, April 27, 2014, under the care of Hospice of South Georgia. The Toombs County, Ga. native was a U.S. Army Veteran and attended Waynesville Nazarene Church. He had a “green thumb” in his gardening hobbies and also enjoyed hunting and fishing. Donald loved his family and was a great father.  He was predeceased by his brother, Bobby Willis. 

Survivors are his daughter, Alicia LaRocco of Hortense, Ga.; two sons, Donald Bradley Fountain and Eddie Dixon, both of Hortense, Ga.; 6 grandchildren; sisters, Barbara Ann Outlaw of Brunswick, Ga., Lawannah Weaver of Columbus, Ga., Maggie Harnage of Frostproof, Fla.; brothers, including a twin, Ronald Fountain of Hortense, Ga., Larry Fountain, Waldo Fountain, both of Brunswick, Ga., Brian Dismuke of Waynesville, Ga., Howard Thompson, Freddie Dismuke, both of Metter, Ga.; several nieces and nephews.

Memorial services will be 2 P.M. Thursday, May 1, 2014 at Waynesville Nazarene Church with Rev. Hinton Johnson and Rev. Horace Godfrey officiating. 

The family will receive friends at the church. 

Please sign the online guestbook at www.rinehartandsons.com.

Rinehart and Sons Funeral Home of Jesup, Ga. is in charge of arrangements. 

Prosecutors consider criminal charges in case of film worker’s death in Jesup

train bridgeIn coastal Georgia, prosecutors are weighing criminal charges in the death of a 27-year-old Atlanta woman struck by a train while filming a Greg Allman biopic in February.

The tragedy on a narrow trestle in rural Wayne County has prompted hand wringing in the entertainment community about movie set safety. It’s also exposed weaknesses in how Georgia polices the same film industry it’s working to recruit, and dented its image as a new go-to-state for making movies.

“It’s hurt Georgia’s reputation,” said Jay Self, who was until recently head of the film office in the city of Savannah.

“This is a place that’s still struggling for respect nationally and this happens and it feeds this idea that we’re not as good as the big guys.”

Sheriffs’ investigators in South Georgia last week turned over preliminary findings of their two-month probe. Several federal regulatory agencies are also looking into the accident and civil lawsuits are a certainty.

Sarah Jones’ death has been cast as the most significant blow to the film industry since a helicopter plunged to the ground on the set of the Twilight Zone movie in California in 1983, killing star Vic Morrow and two child actors.

A review by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution shows that movie set safety in Georgia is policed entirely by federal officials with OSHA, the national workplace safety watchdog, because the state has no locally-based agency of its own, as is the case in the longtime moviemaking powerhouse of California. Local governments, which must issue permits to film on public property, check to see if a film production has insurance and whether it poses any danger to local residents. But they don’t oversee on-set safety.

Peter Dooley, a consultant for the National Council on Occupational Safety and Health, said OSHA tries but they are chronically understaffed and struggle to issue fines substantial enough to alter behavior.

“At the day to day level, there is so much more that needs to be done to send a message,” Dooley said.

Georgia also lacks the union muscle of more traditional entertainment industry hubs like California and New York. And among the state’s most attractive selling points is that it is cheap.

Still, those who work in Georgia’s film business say that doesn’t mean it is unsafe and chafe at the suggestions that Jones’ death demonstrates that the state isn’t ready for its close up .

David Harland Rousseau, a longtime actor and director in Georgia, summed up the argument this way: “‘Good ol’ Georgia, they don’t know what they’re doing down there, bless their hearts.’”

Rousseau and others note that those in the decision-making roles on the Midnight Rider set were from California.

The film was produced by Unclaimed Freight, based in Pasadena, Calif. and owned by Randall Miller, who was also the director. Through a spokesman, Miller declined to comment.

‘We ran for our lives’

Jones was, by all accounts, an eager and enthusiastic crew member when she arrived on the set of “Midnight Rider” as a camera assistant. A South Carolina native who attended the College of Charleston, she’d moved to Atlanta to be closer to the movie industry action.

“She fell head over heels for it,” said Chris Clark, a former boyfriend who also works in the film industry.

Fueled by generous tax credits worth hundreds of millions of dollars, movie and television production in Georgia has skyrocketed in recent years. In fiscal year 2013 alone, 142 feature films and television productions filmed in the state. Economic development officials say that translates into $940 million in direct investment.

Jones was part of the state’s Hollywood boom. She had previously worked on “Vampire Diaries” and “Drop Dead Diva” and was excited about coming aboard the Allman movie, starring William Hurt, friends said.

On Feb. 20, records show, the crew trekked from Savannah to a rural stretch of Wayne County. The production had permission from logging company Rayonier to be on their timber land. But Wayne County Sheriff Det. Joe Gardner said the crew did not have the needed permission from CSX to be on the active railroad tracks that sliced through the property.

The crew had heaved a metal bed onto a train trestle to film a dream sequence with Hurt when a northbound train bore down.

“It came out of nowhere,” hairstylist Joyce Gilliard recalled. “The crew, we ran for our lives.”

It was on them in a matter of seconds. Jones was killed and six others were injured, Gilliard clung to the side of the trestle. Her arm snapped from the pressure of the train speeding by and she required reconstructive surgery.

Movie sets, with their explosions and car chases, can be dangerous places to work. Seven workers died in the motion picture and sound recording industries in 2012, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. That’s the most recent year for which data is available.

But the industry is also heavily unionized and organized labor has worked to protect crew members and actors through regulations and safety bulletins.

Jones’ death has sparked a discussion about whether movie executives, anxious to bring in a movie on time and under budget are taking advantage of eager — often young — crew members who can make less in a year than the camera equipment they handle.

“This is a creative business, a competitive business and among those in it there is a strong desire to ‘get the shot.’ It’s a matter of professional pride,” Rousseau said.

Gilliard has become a crusader for better move set safety, saying crew members need to be empowered to speak up.

Clark agrees and has met with federal OSHA officials about creating a 30-hour workplace safety training program specifically for movie crews. But union members in Georgia — hungry for business to remain in the state — claim that the issue is not specific to the state.

“This is not a Georgia problem,” said Clark, a union member. “This is a tragedy that could have happened anywhere.”

Georgia relies on unions

Federal safety records obtained by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution through a Freedom of Information Act request show there have been three federal OSHA investigations since 2010 on movie sets in Georgia. Two resulted in fines, although both were negotiated down.

C4 Productions, which produced “The Hunger Games,” was fined $4,200 in 2013 when three employees working on a set were injured after they fell 22 feet. The structure they were on collapsed. The proposed penalty was originally $7,000.

In 2011, 2oth Century Fox paid $5,500 for two serious violations on the movie “Three Stooges.” That’s less than half of the proposed $16,000 in penalties and a slap on the wrist for the giant movie studio. An OSHA inspector driving by the set in downtown Atlanta saw two workers on an aerial left demolishing a set without protective equipment, such as hard hats.

A striking irony is that in Georgia — a right-to-work state in a region notoriously hostile to labor unions — relies on the unions to ensure productions are following the rules.

“The union does a tremendous amount to ensure the crews safety,”said Lee Thomas, head of the Georgia Film Office. “Most studios also have a person who is charge of safety to double check everything on the set as well.”

“When the rules are followed and the proper permitting is in place, being on a movie set is one of the safest jobs you can have,” she said.

Midnight Rider halted production after the fatal accident and the picture’s future seemed uncertain. But discussions are underway to revive the shooting in June.

That’s sparked a boycott campaign on social media sites.

“We have expressed our obvious concerns regarding this production starting again,” Matthew Miller, vice president with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees, wrote in a letter to members.

“As uncomfortable as this is, we cannot prevent them from starting up again. Whether or not they can get people to work for them is a decision that those people will have to make for themselves.”

If filming resumes, however, it won’t be in Georgia. The film’s producers are considering finishing the film in Los Angeles.

Veterans deserve the care promised them

Americans are by now tired of hearing horror stories of how certain supervisors and employees with the Department of Veterans Affairs are failing miserably at their jobs. The men and women entrusted to their care, the nation’s protectors, deserve everything and anything the country has to offer to help them get back on their feet. We owe them at least that much, federal budget deficit or not.

That is not happening, though. Stories of life-threatening neglect and deceit abound. Usually, Congress will get involved and demand demotions or firings. Other than that, little else is done by the department to make sure the problems are not repeated, which is why they often are.

As the children, parents or friends of veterans, we never quite know what to expect when someone we love or know enters a VA hospital or program. We wonder if our veteran is getting the full attention and respect he or she has earned.

Most of the time the answer is yes. The majority of medical facilities run by Veterans Affairs are staffed by professional and caring individuals, people who go the extra mile when necessary to return a veteran to good physical or mental health. More of our wounded warriors are helped than not helped.

But there are those places, due to poor and ineffective leadership, where broken veterans are not getting proper treatment. It’s why congressmen like Rep. Jack Kingston are having to urge the president and VA inspector today to look into claims that dozens of veterans have died while waiting to be admitted to the VA hospital in Phoenix. Those operating the program deny the accusations and welcome the scrutiny.

The unfortunate part of it is, true or false, Rep. Kingston has no choice but to ask for an investigation and the VA has no choice but to look into the allegations given the department’s blemished track record.

And that’s a shame – a crying shame.

We’ve urged Congress in the past to do more than just fire high-ranking officials who allow problems to persist under their watch. They should have to forfeit all federal retirement benefits.

Congress might want to take punishment one step further. It might also want to consider harsh criminal charges in some circumstances, especially when neglect by government officials leads to a lifetime of suffering or death for someone in their care.

via The Brunswick News

Gas prices up 4.8 cents

Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have risen 4.8 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.68/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 gas outlets in Georgia. This compares with the national average that has increased 2.5 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.65/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 32.2 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 29.2 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 12.9 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 16.5 cents per gallon higher than this day one year ago.

“While the national average has risen for the 12th straight week, it is likely nearing a peak,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “Gas price increases have continued since early February but are likely nearing an end as oil refineries conclude seasonal maintenance, and the switchover to summer gasoline is nearing completion. Meanwhile, oil inventories are at their highest ever level as reported by the Energy Information Administration, which cited crude oil stocks at a record high of 397.7 million barrels, which should help propel oil prices lower in coming weeks as some storage facilities near capacity. For motorists, the peak to retail gasoline prices is likely very near, with some relief to follow in coming weeks as pressure eases on factors that drive gasoline prices, ” DeHaan said.

Two killed, 1 injured in Baxley auto accident

Authorities are investigating a crash in southeastern Georgia that killed two people and left two others injured.

Appling County sheriff Benny Deloach tells WTOC-TV 23-year-old Ana Arredondo and 20-year-old Rolando Arredondo were killed when the sedan they were riding in was in an accident with a pickup truck late Friday night in Baxley.

A third person riding in the car was taken to the Memorial University Medical Center in Savannah.

The Georgia State Patrol is investigating the accident.

Macon.com.

Could Savannah Harbor project get green light?

There’s a straw in the wind, or maybe more appropriately, a sail on the horizon, which might mean Congress will take some action this week on legislation allowing the Savannah Harbor Expansion Project to begin.

You’ll recall this $652 million project, the single most significant one to Georgia’s economy at present, is backed by both major parties. And it was purportedly so important to the Obama administration Vice President Joe Biden was sent to Savannah last year to proclaim that “come hell or high water” the harbor would be deepened to take care of larger ships soon to arrive via the upgraded Panama Canal. More delay could send the big ships to competing ports on the Eastern seaboard. The Port of Savannah, the fourth busiest in the nation, supports tens of thousands of jobs in Georgia.

Biden’s theatrics turned out to be just that. When Obama’s fiscal 2015 budget was released in March, no money was included for construction on the Savannah project, only $1.52 million for more preparation. This happened in the face of language in the appropriations bill passed in January, which Georgia Sens. Johnny Isakson and Saxby Chambliss said gave the administration “clear direction” to start construction and request the necessary funds.

Trying to move ahead, Gov. Nathan Deal declared the state would use more than $231 million already allocated for its share. The White House rejected that plan, insisting that nothing would be done until the long-delayed water projects bill is approved by Congress and claiming it’s all about authorization — a ludicrous line from an administration that willy-nilly changes laws to suit its purposes.

via The Marietta Daily Journal.

Overturned truck dumps thousands of Little Debbies on I-75

littlrdebbiesDrivers are urged to avoid I-75 north in Bartow County, south of exit 283, where an overturned tractor-trailer dumped its cargo of 70,000 pounds of Little Debbie boxes.

The accident happened around 3 a.m. Friday. Multiple vehicles were involved, GDOT officials said.

Nine people were injured, including the driver of a Honda Accord who was airlifted to Grady Memorial Hospital.

Some lanes in the area remained closed as of 10 a.m.

The driver of the tractor-trailer that overturned was charged with following too closely.

ActionNewsJax.com.

After Glynn County gets Brunswick’s rec facilities and programs in order, the city wants them back

The city recreation department is better managed, better maintained and more heavily used since Glynn County took charge last year, city residents and officials admit.

Still, they say they want it back.

“The county does well, but I feel we can do just as well and maybe better,” Mayor Cornell Harvey said during a town hall meeting this week. “I think we’re not reaching all of our kids. The county is offering great service but our kids are not reaching that service.”

Earlier this month Harvey asked the county to return management of the city’s recreation facilities, plus $700,000 a year to fund them, and the two sides have agreed to negotiate. But they’ve historically maintained a contentious relationship, and there’s no guarantee the county will do as the city asks.

The decision could hinge on whether and when the city abandons alleyway easements it holds on a county-owned block downtown, though both sides deny that issue will be used as a bargaining chip. The alleys are preventing the county from redeveloping what is now just a very expensive dirt parking lot.

jacksonville.com.

Deputies make arrests

Lance Waters (23) was arrested Wednesday and charged with Driving while License Suspended.  Deputies made a traffic stop on Waters’ vehicle.  When they asked for his license he stated he did not have one.  Waters was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

Steven P. Caperton (34) was arrested on an outstanding Probation Warrant.  Angela Caperton (29) was arrested and charged with Obstructing or Hindering Law Enforcement.  Deputies arrived to the area of Nancy’s Place in reference to serving a Probation Warrant.  Upon arrival they spoke to Angela Caperton who denied Steven Caperton was at the house.  During a search of the residence they located Steven Caperton hiding in a closet. Both were transported to the Brantley County Detention Center. 

Deputies responded to the 100 block of Bacon St. in reference to Terroristic Threats and Acts.  Complainant stated they received a phone call and the person on the other end was cursing at them.  They hung the phone up and then received a text message stating that’s a good way to get killed. 

Deputies met with complainant at the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office in reference to Harassing Phone Calls. Complainant stated that an ex has been sending harassing text messages and coming to their place of work.

Tabitha Kilgore (24) was arrested and charged with Obstructing or Hindering Law Enforcement/Tampering with Evidence.  Deputies responded to Honeysuckle Drive in reference to serving a Bench Warrant on Kilgore.  When they arrived a t the residence a man came out and stated Kilgore had ran out the back door.  Kilgore was located behind a shed in the backyard and transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

Deputies responded to the 100 block of Sheffield Rd. in reference to Terroristic Threats and Acts.  Complainant stated there had been an argument with the offender and the offender threatened serious harm to the complainant.

Crystal Niece (26) was arrested and charged on Probation Warrants. Deputies spotted Niece sitting in a car in a parking lot.  Niece was informed of her warrants and transported to the Brantley County Detention Center. 

While out getting gas at the Friendly Express deputies were notified that a customer had just drove off Without Paying for Gas.  The subject was no longer in the area.

Deputies responded to Post Rd North in reference to Theft by Taking/Burglary/Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated they had prescription medication stolen from their residence.

04-24-2014

Deputies met with complainant at City Hall in Hoboken in reference to Theft by Taking that occurred at Blueberry Hill.  Complainant stated a former employee had stolen a large sum of money. 

Deputies were notified by complainant about a Theft by Taking that occurred at Friendly Express.   Complainant stated they had their wallet when they went in the store and when they got in their car the wallet was missing. 

Deputies responded to the 500 block of Shady Oaks Circle in reference to Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated that someone had cut down a portion of their fence and removed it from the property.

04-25-2014

Deputies responded to Blue Jay Loop in reference to Criminal Trespass/Burglary/Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated that someone had entered their home and plundered around and taken some tools.

AT&T finds new use for the landline in Augusta

As people continue to cut the cord on the landline phone in homes, what is a company to do with all that wiring?

Find something else to stream down the wire to customers.

In the last three years, AT&T has spent $100 million on upgrades in the Augusta area, primarily to transition over to IP-based networks for the wire and wireless.

Stan Shepherd, the regional director for Augusta, said the upgrade to the wires have been to get ready for U-verse. That’s its equivalent to a cable company bundle of television, high speed internet and phone.

U-verse has been available in the area since March, though the company hasn’t been touting it vocally until now.

The service has been available for years in bigger cities, but AT&T has been pushing it out to smaller cities.

Television is crowded in this market. There’s already three cable companies and two satellite dish companies, in addition to the online streaming services.

“Where we’ve gotten into it in other areas, we’ve been very competitive,” Shepherd replied. “We’ve been able to pull market share. We still feel the Augusta market is a good place for it. It is a unique product. It is video over IP.”

Shepherd had some statistics. Only 30 percent of households in America still have a traditional landline telephone and 500,000 people are detaching from that line every month.

“We know the trend. But broadband is still something that people are looking for because of the speeds,” he said. “That is still driven toward the wireline side of the house. It is still some way to maintain that investment in the ground.” But some of that $100 million also went into AT&T’s wireless network. That’s the 4G LTE. That’s upgrading the cell sites and putting up some new ones.

“It’s essentially broadband wireless,” Shepherd said.

The Augusta Chronicle.

DA seeking more info in Doctortown trestle death

The investigation continues into the death of Sarah Jones, who was killed while working on a film shoot here in Wayne County.

Jones was struck and killed by a CSX train Feb. 20 on the Doctortown trestle as she worked on the movie Midnight Rider, a biopic of Georgia musician Gregg Allman.

Amidst calls for a boycott against continuation of work on the film, lead actor William Hurt announced this week that he will no longer be a part of the movie.

Wayne County Sheriff John Carter said that, contrary to published reports, his office has not completed its look into the incident but is continuing to investigate the death. He said he and lead investigator Joe Gardner met with District Attorney Jackie Johnson this week to discuss the matter.

“We turned over to her office all that we have up to this point,” Carter said.

The sheriff said that Johnson had requested some additional information and that his office is continuing to gather statements and evidence. He said he does not know how much longer it would take to gather the information requested by the district attorney but that it will be given to her as soon as some involved in the case are contacted and their statements are gathered.

“We found out this week that the National Transportation Safety Board will not investigate the death,” Carter said.

He said his office and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration still have open files on the incident. The Federal Railroad Administration and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation also continue to look into the death.

via The Press-Sentinel 

Youth rally set for May 9

The BCHS Oasis, FCA, and AFJROTC will host the first ever Impact Youth Rally Friday May 9 at 6 p.m. at Heron Field. It is free to anyone who would like to come and join us, and we will be selling t-shirts and merchandise after the rally. We will have speakers including Ray McMillan, Jonathan Thortan, and Justin Thortan. We will also have performances by Whosoever, the Salt House Worship Band, and the AFJROTC.

William Hurt drops out of ‘Midnight Rider’ after Jesup death

William Hurt is dropping out of Midnight Rider, The Hollywood Reporter has confirmed.

The actor was starring as Gregg Allman in the movie, which had been looking to gear up again after the on-set death of camera assistant Sarah Jones on Feb. 20 due to a train accident.

Director Randall Miller had been trying to restart the production in Los Angeles, with a goal to resume shooting the film in June. The movie had previously been shooting in Jesup.

STORY: A Train, a Narrow Trestle and 60 Seconds to Escape

Insiders say that if Midnight Rider does resume production, it could face union pressure, litigation and protests from sectors of the film community that have highlighted Jones’ death as a preventable fatality.

The project will likely have to recast if other actors don’t return as the film looks to restart production.

The Hollywood Reporter.

Twelve charged in six-county drug trafficking case

A federal indictment was unsealed earlier this month which charges 12 defendants with conspiring to traffic large amounts of methamphetamine, cocaine, oxycodone, and other drugs in Appling, Bacon, Coffee, Jeff Davis, Telfair, and Wayne counties.

 The charges resulted from a joint investigation by the DEA, the GBI, the Bacon County Sheriff’s Office, the Jeff Davis County Sheriff’s Office, the Coffee County Sheriff’s Office, the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office, the Ware County Sheriff’s Office, and with assistance from the Waycross Judicial Circuit District Attorney’s Office and the United States Marshal’s Service.

 If convicted of the drug trafficking conspiracy charge, each defendant faces a maximum of 40 years in prison and a potential fine of $5,000,000.

 The 12 defendants charged are:

-  Crecencio Ortiz-Castillo, 21, of McRae, Georgia;
–  Mauricio Lepe-Cholico, 36, of Baxley, Georgia;
–  John Thomas Register, 38, of Alma, Georgia;
–  Westley Kayeon Kennedy, 27, of Alma, Georgia;
–  Recardo Mantabbyon Harris, 35, of Nicholls, Georgia;
–  Markeish Lamaryia Wilkins, 27, of Alma, Georgia;
–  Jeremy Peterson, 26, of Alma, Georgia;
–  Ottie Lafayette Corbitt, 28, of Douglas, Georgia;
–  Johnny Leon Drake, 36, of Baxley, Georgia;
–  Nathan Peter Newham, 34, of Hazlehurst, Georgia;
–  Irene Kennedy, 54, of Alma, Georgia; and
–  Contory Kennedy, 22, of Alma, Georgia.

The defendants were arraigned last week in federal court in Brunswick where they all entered pleas of not guilty.  Of the 12 defendants appearing, Irene Kennedy, Contory Kennedy, and Markeish Wilkins were released on secured bonds, while the other 9 defendants were denied bond and ordered detained pending a trial.

United States Attorney Edward Tarver emphasized that the indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Governments burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 Assistant United States Attorney Charlie Bourne is prosecuting the case for the United States.  For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

Glynn commissioner concerned about high school senior party houses

Glynn County Commissioner Clyde Taylor asked his fellow commissioners to support a resolution last week expressing the commission’s concern about the renting of houses for the use of graduating seniors during ‘Senior Week.’

Taylor asked that the resolution be placed on the agenda of the commission’s April 17 meeting.

“What can we do? We are not in a position to dictate to real estate companies or tell them who they can rent to. But we can issue  a cautionary resolution to the rental companies urging them to be careful and use discretion in these instances. This would be a non-binding resolution just expressing our feelings.”

At the heart of Taylor’s resolution was the tragic death last year of a graduating high school senior at one of the rental houses.

Commissioner Mary Hunt (Dist. 4) said, “I went to Glynn Academy and there’s always been senior houses and there always will be. I know where Commissioner Taylor is going with this, but it also needs to address the people who buy the alcohol for these kids.”

“Those people need to be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law. Including kids with fake IDs.”

“This is the issue and it should be part of the resolution,” said Hunt, “Alcohol will continue to be the issue. Anyone contributing to a minor should be prosecuted.”

via The Islander.

Charlton commissioner defends county spending

In recent weeks, many in the community have been questioning expenditures made by the county commission and Commissioner Jesse Crews isn’t any too happy about it.

“There’s been lots of comments about the SPLOST,” he said at last week’s county commission meeting. ‘“That’s because a lot of people don’t understand and they don’t ask questions.”

“My phone numbers are 496-2501, 843-2310, and 276-0587. If you need to know something, call. I will answer the phone if you call.”

Crews was referring to talk on the street regarding the county’s recent purchase of three new pickup trucks and to Homeland City Councilman Gerald Tait’s recent questions about when the municipality will receive its share of the 2014 SPLOST money.

via Charlton County Herald

Vidalia Onion Festival underway through Sunday

A sweet time is underway in Vidalia.

The 37th annual Vidalia Onion Festival is now underway through Sunday.

Finishing touches were put on the amusement rides for the event’s carnival earlier Wednesday at the Vidalia Airport.

In addition to the daily carnival, there will be cooking contests and musical performances from acts like Uncle Kracker and The Temptations Review.

“This is our biggest tourism event for the year and to get people to come in and spend the night and leave their money here,” said Ingrid Varn, President of Vidalia Visitors and Convention Bureau. “It’s a great economic generator for our area. We did an economic impact study a couple of years ago it was close to a million dollars for economic impact that it brings into the city.”

The Vidalia Onion Festival is now underway and will continue through Sunday at various venues.

For more schedule and ticket information go here.

WJCL News.

State junks the science, weakens marshland protection

The head of Georgia’s Environmental Protection Division is right about one thing when it comes to protecting the public’s salt marshes.

The best line of defense is a state law. It’s not a bureaucrat’s memo — especially like the flimsy one issued in Atlanta this week.

On Tuesday, EPD Director Judson Turner sounded retreat by issuing a backward-looking regulation that effectively removes the requirement for a protective 25-foot buffer on many marshfront properties.

It’s the wrong memo at the wrong time.

Development pressure along Georgia’s coast is increasing, not decreasing. Those in charge of protecting Georgia’s public resources must support sound management practices. They shouldn’t junk the science and compromise an economically important and unique state asset.

savannahnow.com.

Two Savannah men charged with passing counterfeit $50 bills

Henry Grady Wall, 35, and James Wesley Kelly, 55, both from Savannah, Georgia, were indicted by a federal grand jury sitting in Savannah earlier this month for allegedly conspiring to deal in counterfeit $50 bills.  The indictment alleges that both Wall and Kelly knowingly used counterfeit notes to purchase money orders at a grocery store in Port Wentworth, Georgia.

Both Wall and Kelly were arraigned Tuesday before U. S. Magistrate Judge G.R. Smith on charges of conspiracy and dealing with counterfeit currency.  The conspiracy charge carries a maximum prison sentence of 5 years; dealing in counterfeit securities carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.  Both Wall and Kelly were denied bond and ordered detained pending trial.  Wall was also charged separately with passing counterfeit currency, which also carries a 20-year maximum prison sentence.  United States Attorney Tarver emphasized that the indictment is only an accusation and is not evidence of guilt.  The defendants are entitled to a fair trial, during which it will be the Government’s burden to prove guilt beyond a reasonable doubt.

 The ongoing investigation of this case is being conducted by Special Agents with the United States Secret Service.  Assistant United States Attorney T. Shane Mayes is prosecuting the case on behalf of the United States.  For additional information, please contact First Assistant United States Attorney James D. Durham at (912) 201-2547.

Jobless rate unchanged at 8 percent

The Georgia Department of Labor announced today that the unemployment rate in the Southern Georgia region remained unchanged at 8.0 percent from February to March, but it was down from 9.1 percent from a year ago.

While the March rate was unchanged, there were 1,512 new claims for unemployment insurance filed in March, an increase of 61, or 4.2 percent, from 1,451 in February.  Most of the rise in claims came in manufacturing and construction and accommodations and food services. There were 1,495 claims in March 2013.

Metro Athens had the lowest area jobless rate at 5.1 percent, while the Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region had the highest at 9.4 percent.

Meanwhile, Georgia’s seasonally adjusted unemployment rate for March was 7.0 percent, down from 7.1 percent in February. The rate was 8.4 percent in March a year ago.

Local area unemployment data are not seasonally adjusted. Georgia labor market data are available at www.employgeorgia.com

Lee, Griffin reunions set for April 28

The annual Lee reunion will be held on Saturday, April 28th at the residence of the late Carlton Lee in Hoboken. John Lee was born in 1859, married Emily Thornton at age 17 and they had six children. He and his second wife, Eugenia Green had ten children. He died in 1912 on Billy’s Island. Lunch will be served at 1:00 p.m.

Descendants of Joseph and Mary Griffin will meet for the annual Griffin reunion Saturday, April 28th at 4:00 p.m. at the residence of the late Carlton Lee in Hoboken. Their children are the late Endeka Griffin Altman (husband Harvey), the late Thelma Griffin Lee (husband Owen), and the late Dewey and Mary Griffin.

Jazz in the Park kicks off May 25

Phil Morrison (2) (800x600)Summer is just around the corner, which means it’s time for the high-tide event that is a Golden Isles tradition – Jazz in the Park. Kicking off the 2014 season on May 25th, the Sunday before Memorial Day, is local favorite The Phil Morrison Trio.  The concert takes place from 7:00 to 9:00 p.m. at Neptune Park on St. Simons Island.

Presented by Golden Isles Arts and Humanities for more than two decades, Jazz in the Park is one of the most popular events in the Golden Isles for residents and visitors alike, entertaining thousands with full seasons of outdoor summer concerts by the sea on select Sundays at high tide, for maximum breezes and bug-free comfort. As always, guests are encouraged to bring a picnic supper and a lawn chair or blanket to relax on. All five concerts this year, from May to September, will be in the beautiful setting of Neptune Park, directly behind the St. Simons Casino building.

 Season fans are urged to get their full pass to all five shows before the opening concert on May 25. The season pass for adults is only $35. Season passes are also available for ages 6-12 for only $15. Passes are available for purchase in person at the Historic Ritz Theatre in Downtown Brunswick or by calling Golden Isles Arts and Humanities at 912-262-6934. Admission to Jazz in the Park, payable at the gate the night of each show, is only $10 for adults. Children ages 6 to 12 are $5, and anyone under 6 gets in free

The 2014 season of Jazz in the Park is sponsored in part by Best Western Island Inn, Magic 105.9, The Wave 104.1, Atlantic National Bank and The Brunswick Chapter of The Links, Inc.

 Full line-up for the 2014 season of Jazz in the Park at Neptune Park, St. Simons:

Sunday, May 24, 7-9 pm: The Phil Morrison Trio

Each season for many years, Jazz in the Park has kicked off with a concert by this popular hometown favorite. Phil and his trio are known for a fresh blend of East and West that brings a taste of other lands to America’s unique musical form.  With special guest Bill Smith on guitar and vocals, this promises to be another outstanding concert.  

This concert is sponsored by The Brunswick Chapter of The Links, Inc.

Sunday, June 29, 7-9 pm: Soul Gravy

Popular local band Soul Gravy embodies the true meaning of soul music, from the thundering rhythm section, to the smooth melodies and powerful vocals. The finished product is a sound that’s guaranteed to satisfy your soul.

Sunday, July 13, 7-9 pm: Elisha “Atlas” Parris

World renowned keyboardist Elisha “Atlas” Parris has been an award winning composer and master pianist for over 20 years. No stranger to the Jazz community, Atlas was the lead keyboardist for the popular 90’s jazz band SEGUE.  His distinctive style was a hit at last season’s Jazz in the Park and we are excited to have him back this season.

Sunday, August 24, 7-9 pm: Sam Rodriguez Latin Jazz

Sam Rodriguez, with his distinctive musical personality, has established himself as a top Percussionist.  Sam has gained even wider recognition by performing or recording with a broad scope of artists such as Anita Baker, Jennifer Holiday, Barry White, and Gladys Knight.

Sunday, September 21, 7-9pm: Michael Hulett

With sounds of the soul greats, rock vibes and romantic tunes, Michael Hulett’s saxophone and vocals captivate every audience. Michael has made a name for himself both regionally and nationally, playing with entertainers such as The Four Tops and The Savannah Jazz All-Stars. Michael’s repertoire includes classic and modern Jazz, the best in Fusion and Jazz-Funk, and highlight’s of R&B, Soul, Rock and Pop.

This concert is sponsored by the Brunswick Chapter of The Links, Inc.

For more information, visit goldenislesarts.org or call 912-262-6934.

The Brantley Cunty Sheriff’s Office is asking for the public’s help in solving several church burglaries in the Brantley County area. Anyone who has information in reference to these burglaries is asked to contact Chief Investigator John Simpson at the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office at 912-462-6142.

In other activity:

04-21-2014

Deputies responded to the Raybon Church of God of Prophecy in reference to a Burglary/Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated someone had entered the church and taken some money and an overhead projector. 

04-22-2014

Deputies responded to the 1200 block of Lynn Haven Drive in reference to Harassing Phone Calls.  Complainant stated they are being harassed by phone from the offender.

Deputies responded to the 10000 block of N. Main St. in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated that someone had taken money from their wallet.

Levi Bell
Levi Bell

Levi Bell (24) was arrested and charged with Criminal Trespass.  Deputies responded to Raybon Rd. West and met with complainant.  Complainant stated that Bell damaged a door and went through personal belongings.  Bell was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center. 

 

Georgia environmental agency eases marsh protection rule

A memo issued by state Environmental Protection Division Director Judson Turner on Tuesday — Earth Day — effectively removed the requirement for a protective 25-foot buffer on many marshfront properties.

The two-page memo instructs local authorities on how to enforce the Erosion & Sedimentation Act, which requires a vegetated buffer along the banks of all state waters to slow erosion and filter storm water. In most cases, the buffer’s boundaries are clear, Turner said, but delineating them gets tricky along the marsh.

That’s because the law talks about “wrested vegetation,” or the point at which rapidly moving water keeps vegetation from growing on a bank. Such an area is absent in many marsh settings.

A saltmarsh buffer’s starting point has instead been determined using methodology outlined in a 2004 memo from then-EPD director Carol Couch. She drew on another law, the Coastal Marshlands Protection Act, that specifies where the marsh ends and the upland begins based on the mix of plants present.

Regulators have been using that line, called the jurisdictional determination, to start the buffer.

But no more.

savannahnow.com.

A trap for probationers

There are a few bills from the 2014 Georgia General Assembly that Gov. Nathan Deal should refuse to sign.

House Bill 837 should be at the top of the list.

This bill, intended to reform Georgia’s thinly regulated private probation industry, does the opposite by giving the for-profit companies more authority and allowing them to shield more records from public scrutiny.

Critics of the legislation – count us among them – have called it a “gift” to the private probation industry, which has come under fire in recent years for abusive and heavy-handed tactics against the misdemeanor probationers some companies oversee.

Many of those complaints involved the local operations of Sentinel Offender Services, a firm at the center of a civil-rights lawsuit brought by low-income probationers who found themselves trapped in a cycle of debt because of their inability to pay fines, fees and surcharges.

Does that sound like extortion and indentured servitude? It does to us.

The Augusta Chronicle.

Renovation of Altamaha Tech Camden campus begins

State Representative Jason Spencer (R-Woodbine) commented today on upcoming renovation plans for the Altamaha Technical College (ATC) campus in Camden County. Last year, the General Assembly appropriated $1 million in the Fiscal Year 2014 (FY14) State Budget to renovate unused space at the College of Coastal Georgia Camden campus. According to a recent Board of Regents study, the College of Coastal Georgia Camden campus has three times more opportunity to take advantage of unused space. This unused space will allow Altamaha Tech to expand their technical programs inside the Camden Campus to meet immediate local workforce development needs and increase the number of enrollees in the school’s technical programs.

via Georgia House of Representatives

Woodbine Crawfish Festival still going after 29 years

Festival starts at 6 p.m. Friday and continues Saturday

After 20 years of boiling crawfish at the Woodbine Crawfish Festival, Royce Proctor gave it up four years ago.

“You’ve heard people say, ‘out of the pot and into the fire?’ Well, that’s what I did,” Proctor said of exchanging his fireside duties for the job of festival organizer.

Proctor is in his fourth year as chairman of the Woodbine Steering Committee, the group that organizers the festival which is in its 29th year on the south bank of the Satilla River.

City officials expect 20,000 people to attend this year, Proctor said, but he does not know how they come up with that number.

What he does know is that he has a lot food ready for those who come.

“We have 3,600 pounds of crawfish and 160 gallons of Helen Allen’s world famous Woodbine Crawfish Festival etouffee,” he said.

Every year labor is divided the same way. Volunteers from the local Lion’s Club boil the crawfish and members of the Steering Committee serve Allen’s etouffee. Allen has been preparing the traditional Cajun dish for the festival longer than Proctor boiled crawfish. Her efforts earned her the spot of grand marshal of the festival’s parade last year.

Proctor recommended that festival goers who don’t want to miss out on crawfish and etouffee arrive early.

“We ran out by 3 p.m. on Saturday last year,” he said.

via Woodbine Crawfish Festival still going after 29 years | members.jacksonville.com.

Six private St. Simons Island gardens on display Saturday

For the eighth straight year, some island residents will welcome complete strangers into their back yards.

The Cassina Garden Club’s 8th annual Tabby & Tillandsia Garden Walk will offer stops at six private gardens, the revitalized herb garden at Fort Frederica National Monument, the club’s tabby slave cabins and some special stops.

Bonnie Thompson, whose home is one of the stops, loves visiting France and brought some ideas home for her own garden.

Thompson’s house overlooks the marsh and has a pond with fish as colorful as the roses, petunias, irises and other flowers in full bloom. With the use of mirrors, visitors will see reflected views of the marsh and the garden framed by vines and fronted by colorful urns with blossoms spilling from the tops.

Although she does some of the work herself, she credits landscaper Jeff Homans for much of the layout.

“He has good ideas. I go to France every year and see things over there,’’ she said.

She has her own ideas that Homans tries out.

“I find flowers I want to try. Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t,’’ she said. “I love to experiment.”

jacksonville.com.

Jesup Labor Department office is closing in June

The Georgia Department of Labor’s Jesup Career Center will soon be closed.

Georgia Labor Commissioner Mark Butler confirmed Friday that the Labor Department office in Jesup will be shutting its doors in mid-June. The current lease extends through the end of June.

“The decision’s made based purely on budget necessities,” Butler said.

He said that he had hoped his budget would be left flat this year but that the General Assembly has chosen instead to cut it again.

In addition, the Department will be losing certain federal funds next year, as well, he said.

After the Jesup office closes, the nearest office will be in Hinesville.

Butler pointed out, though, that people can file for unemployment benefits on-line.

He also said that, if office space is available, it might be possible for counselors from nearby offices to visit Wayne

via The Press-Sentinel > News > Labor Dept. office here is closing.

Rising St. Marys River forces property owners to pack up

Libby Carter has lived in Charlton County for more than twenty years.

She owns a lot off St. Marys Bluff Road, a road that’s now more like a river.

“Last night you could see road all back there and there is no road no more,” said Carter.

We were able to hop in a neighbors truck to see just how deep the water was.

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the St. Marys River is the highest it’s been in six days, cresting at 15.2 feet.

The water was so high, it took over entire properties, forcing some locals to pick up their trailers and RVs and move.

In other places, the water crept up to fences in backyards.

Just across the river in Macclenny, Walker Green was working to make sure his property stayed dry.

He used piles of sand as a water gauge and to try and stop river water from taking over his yard.

He’s been able to move around he pleases, but just down the street, it’s a different story.

“Families down in these homes on the river they’ve been boating back and fourth,” said Green.

Carter and Green hope the weather will hold up so the water levels can go down.

The Undersheriff in Baker County told Action News a code red was issued to locals in that area, warning them of the rising river water.

Authorities told Action News they were prepared to open a shelter if needed, but as of Monday, no one had called saying they needed one.

ActionNewsJax.com.

Developer announces plans for three hotels with 535 rooms on Jekyll Island oceanfront

A developer that rode out a depressed financial market since 2006 announced Monday it will spend $88 million on Jekyll Island to build three oceanfront hotels.

Bob Abberger Sr., managing director of Trammell Crow, said the company will split the grounds of the former Buccaneer and Georgia Coast Inn hotels on the island into three properties on which they will build a 210-room Courtyard Marriott, a 150-room Springhill Suites and a 175-room full service hotel that will be named later.

Each of the hotels on the combined 15.5 acres will be four stories — meeting the 54-foot maximum height restriction — and their rooms will all have ocean views, Abberger said.

The Marriott will cost $32 and the Springhill will cost $24 million and each should be open by the end of 2015. The third hotel, which Abberger said could be the most upscale of the three, should open by the end of 2016.

jacksonville.com.

Murray charged with drug related objects

Nathan MurrayNathan C. Murray, 32, was arrested and charged with possession and use of drug related objects.  Deputies performed a traffic stop on Murray’s vehicle for an equipment violation and Murray gave consent to a search the vehicle.  Deputies found a used syringe on Murray and he was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

In other activity:

4-14-2014

Deputies responded to the 1000 block of Mill Pond Rd. in reference to Harassing Phone Calls. Complainant stated their ex-boyfriend was harassing her by phone.

Deputies responded to the 21000 block of Hwy 82 East in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated that several prescription medications had been stolen.

04-15-2014

Deputies responded to Caney Bay Rd. in reference to an Accidental Shooting.  Complainant stated that their friend had a pistol in their back pocket and it was about to fall out.  Complainant stated that when he grabbed the pistol to keep it from falling it went off shooting his friend in the leg.

Deputies responded to 9 Dixon Court in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated someone had taken $150 from their wallet.

Deputies responded to the Friendly Express on 301 N in reference to Theft by Shoplifting.  Complainant stated an unknown subject walked out of the store with two 12 packs of beer without paying and got in a car and left.

Deputies responded to Ga 520 near Mile Post 18 in reference to Hit and Run.  Complainant stated a vehicle passed them and cut back in front of them too close and hit the front fender of their vehicle causing damage.

Deputies responded to Oak Woodlands Dr. in reference to a Dog Problem.  Complainant stated that their neighbor’s dog came onto their property and killed their dog.

04-16-2014

Deputies met with complainant at the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office in reference to Theft by Taking that occurred on Raybon Rd. W.  Complainant stated the offender stole several items including a debit card and a lawnmower.

Deputies responded to Fifth Ave in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated that a tablet, jewelry, cd players and several items had been stolen.

Deputies responded to the Sandy Loop area in reference to Burglary/Theft by Taking/Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated that an a/c unit had been removed from the home as well as a drill from the storage building.

Deputies responded to Mars Hill Rd. in reference to Theft by Taking/Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated several items were taken from the property.

Deputies responded to the 7000 block of Riverside Rd. in reference to Pointing or Aiming a Gun at Another/Discharge of Firearms Near Public Highway/Discharge of Firearms on Property.  Complainant stated the offender stopped in front of his residence and fired a shot towards their residence.

First SRK fishing tourney set for May 10

Satilla fishing tourney offers more than $1,000 in cash to top anglers

The Satilla Riverkeeper (SRK) will hold its inaugural Satilla River

Fishing Tournament May 10 with more than $1,000 in prizes to be

awarded to winners in seven categories.

“This is an opportunity for fishers of all ages to get out and enjoy

the river, catch some big redbreasts and have an opportunity to win

some cash or other prizes,” Riverkeper Ashby Nix said.

This is a fundraising event for the SRK organization, and anglers must

register and pay a $25 entry fee to be entered into the tournament.

Children under the age of 16 fish for free. All

fish caught the day of the tournament from anywhere on the Satilla

River or any of its tributaries can be entered in the tournament.

Children can fish in a youth division, in which winners will be

awarded fishing tackle.

“Anyone who enters will get a year’s membership in the Satilla

Riverkeeper. And we invite the community to come out and join us any

time on May 10,” Nix said.

Adults can fish from boats, kayaks, canoes or from the bank but must

be registered as a team with at least two members.

Registration forms and rules for contestants are available on line at

satillariverkeeper.org or at many area bait and tackle stores.

Cash prizes will be awarded to the top catch in each of five

categories. The angler with the largest redbreast (by weight) will win

$125, and $100 will be awarded to the fisher with the largest catfish,

the largest panfish other than a redbreast, the largest largemouth

bass or the largest mudfish.

Additionally, a grand slam prize of $300 will be paid to the team with

the largest (total weight) aggregate total for any three of the five

categories.

Another $300 will be paid to the team with a stringer of the largest

total weight for any three redbreast.

Registration and entry fees must be in to the SRK office by 5 p.m. May

9. Late registration can be completed until 9 a.m. the morning of the

tournament (late entry is $30) at 829 South West Central Ave. in

Blackshear. Weigh-in to determine the winners will also be held at the

same address.

To be considered for the prize money the team must weigh in between

noon and 4 p.m. May 10. Department of Natural Resources personnel and

a tournament team will assist throughout the day. Food will be

available at the weigh-in site, and the public is invited to drop by

and see the weigh-in and the winners.

The Satilla Riverkeeper is a non-profit 501C-3 organization, and all

contributions are tax deductible. The SRK’s mission is to protect,

restore and educate about the unique black water Satilla River.

Membership is open to anyone, and more information about the

organization or the fishing tournament is available on-line at

satillariverkeeper.org or call 912-510-9500.

Glynn BOE to vote on solar farm near Brantley

The Glynn County Commission Thursday signed off on an agreement that could bring a “golden” development opportunity to the area.

The intergovernmental payment in lieu of tax agreement, approved by the commission, now needs the OK of the Glynn County Board of Education to bring a 3,660-acre solar farm to Thalmann, near the Brantley County line.

The Brunswick and Glynn County Development Authority approved the agreement at its meeting Feb. 24.

Development authority director Chuck Scragg said Birmingham, Ala.-based Southern Power’s proposal for the solar facility is one of about 30 responses to a request for proposals issued by the Georgia Public Service Commission April 2.

Southern Power has four other potential solar sites in the state, Scragg said, and Glynn County is the potential site of two separate projects, including a smaller, 70-acre project proposed for property near the Brunswick Golden Isles Airport.

Bids are due to the Public Service Commission April 30. A decision is due by Dec. 16, when Glynn County will find out if one of the solar farms vying for the contract is one of the two proposing to locate here.

The Southern Power facility, proposed for a tract currently zoned forest agricultural off Ga. 32, will not provide for many jobs, but it could generate a lot of wealth for the community, Scragg told the county commission at a work session Tuesday. If the site is selected by the PSC, it would be the fourth largest solar farm in the U.S., Scragg said.

The intergovernmental agreement mirrors the division of funds from Glynn County’s tax digest, with the school system getting 75 percent and the county government 25 percent. Some county commissioners suggested negotiating the split at their work session Tuesday.

“I’m for the project. I just want us to get as much as we can wrangle out of this,” Commission Chairman Michael Browning said, noting county government gives funding to the development authority, but the school system does not.

Scragg said Glynn County would not be required to fund any sort of investment in the Thalmann project. It is already near a power substation on Ga. 32, and won’t require infrastructure.

via The Brunswick News

Victim identified in fatal pedestrian wreck in Jesup

A man is dead after being hit by a cement truck in downtown Jesup about 5:30 p.m. Thursday  at the intersection of Georgia 27 and North 3rd Street.

Georgia State Patrol identified the victim as Brandon Hill, 27, of Jesup. Hill had been involved in an altercation with a group of individuals and had thrown a bottle at a woman and began running.

Based on witness accounts, it is believed that Hill was being followed by three individuals when he ran into the intersection, said GSP Trooper Raumando Thompson.  The cement truck driver identified as Andrew Donagi, 44, of Screven will not face charges. He was driving the speed limit of 35 miles per hour when Hill stepped in front of the truck, according to the GSP. The Jesup Police Department is investigating the events leading up to the fatal crash.

 WSAV

Enterprise sets moving sale

The Brantley Enterprise will have a moving sale Saturday featuring lots of office furniture and equipment, including a desk, several assorted office chairs, a few computers, some printers, a conference table, a laser copy machine, a couple of cameras, a TV, some video cameras, and more. Doors open at the Enterprise office at 84 Satilla Avenue next to Brantley Gas  at 10 a.m. and sale continues to 2 p.m. Some great deals that won’t last long.

What I learned about business as a south Georgia bottom fisher

By Cliff Oxford • When I tell people the first business lesson I ever learned was with Louisiana Pinks, they often think I was in the nail polish or lipstick businesses, or maybe rose bushes. Sorry, not at the age of 15 living in rural southern Georgia. I was in none of those businesses. I was selling worms.

A Louisiana Pink is a premium live worm that is an excellent bottom-fishing bait in rivers and ponds. They are bigger and pinker than earthworms, and their real advantage is that they stay alive longer on the hook, which attracts larger catfish and bream. But, boy, they came at a price. Thirty or 40 years ago, they cost about 10 to 15 cents each — compared to regular earthworms, which were basically free.

When our local bait and tackle store, Winges, went up on the price to 20 cents apiece, or $4 a box, my Uncle Buddy and I decided to dive into the Louisiana Pink business. We quickly learned a lesson I would long remember: that all businesses are technical in nature no matter how simple they may seem. Do you know your business? Do you have resident knowledge of the ins and outs of the business that others don’t have? I have seen over and over again that the answers to those questions are among the strongest indicators of success.

NYTimes.com.

Georgia governor signs bills limiting development on Jekyll Island to 1,675 acres

Gov. Nathan Deal signed two legislative bills Monday that ended decades of wrangling over development on the state-owned barrier island.

House Bill 715 and Senate Bill 296 did the same thing, they capped development on the island at 1,675 acres superseding an old state law that limited development to 35 percent of the high ground but set off 40 years of arguments on where the marsh ended and the uplands began.

Before Deal signed the bills, Jekyll Island Authority board chairman Richard Royal, a former legislator himself, said he had never seen two identical bills approved so quickly. Royal said it was due to the stakeholders on both sides making small compromises.

Deal called the bills historic and said he would sign both of them.

jacksonville.com.

Vidalia onion grower going to court over state-mandated shipping date

No Vidalia onion will be harvested before its time. So says the agricultural commissioner who claims farmers should face fines for shipping one of Georgia’s premier crops too early, potentially threatening their renowned sweet, delectable taste.

But one of the state’s most prominent farmers is going to court to fight the new rules, claiming the commissioner is overstepping his bounds and that onions are being shipped only when they’re ready and only after federal inspectors give the high sign.

Gary Black, the state’s Republican agriculture commissioner, says early sales of unripe onions are threatening the Vidalia’s reputation as a rare onion that’s so sweet it can be eaten raw like an apple. Black spent the past 18 months working with farmers on a new rule that prohibits packaging Vidalia onions for shipping before the last full week of April.

A judge in Atlanta struck down the rule last month, saying Black overstepped his authority trying to protect the $150 million onion crop. Still, the commissioner says he still plans to enforce the restriction while the state appeals. Any farmer who ships onions before the official start date next Monday faces fines of up to $5,000 per bag or box, and could be banned from selling onions under the Vidalia trademark in the future

via Vidalia onion grower going to court over state-mandated shipping date | members.jacksonville.com.

State extends tax-free holidays

Gov. Nathan Deal today signed House Bill 958, legislation that will extend the statewide back-to-school tax-free holiday and ENERGY STAR and WaterSense appliance tax-free holiday weekends for an additional two years.

“The sales tax holidays will allow Georgia’s families to save money on those necessary items for school and on appliances that will help conserve Georgia’s energy resources,” Deal said. “This tax reform package has made our state a better place to work and raise a family, and I will continue my commitment to maintaining our status as having one of the lowest per capita taxpayer burdens in the country.”

The fiscal note estimates that over the two-year time period the two-day back-to-school holiday, taking place this year on Aug. 1-2, will save Georgians up to $143 million and the energy efficient household appliance tax holiday, taking place this year on Oct. 3-5, will save taxpayers $2.6 million.

The bill also provides a new sales tax exemption for Georgia’s food banks, an initiative that will help sustain charitable service across the state, saving an estimated $2.5 million over two years.

“I strongly believe in the mission of our local food banks,” Deal said. “With their help, we have been able to actively fight against hunger, serve those less fortunate and assist with disaster relief. It is my hope that this tax exemption will make room for a significant amount of growth and progress for those organizations.”

In addition, HB 958 extends the tax credit for video game production companies and provides an extension of the project of regional significance sales tax exemption.

Deal also signed into law today two pieces of legislation, HB 715 and SB 296, that promote the responsible development of Jekyll Island. The bill outlines the maximum amount of land the Jekyll Island Authority may develop and authorizes certain amounts of land for the purpose of public recreation, safety, health, expansion of campgrounds and unrestricted use.

“Jekyll Island is home to a vast range of some of Georgia’s most precious natural resources and wildlife,” said Deal. “This bill will allow for Jekyll to make key redevelopments, elevating its reputation as one of Georgia’s most beautiful and exciting tourism destinations while preserving the natural and historic environment found near its shores.”

Deal also signed the following bill:

·         HB 881, legislation that will create a specialty tag for the Grady Health Foundation and will adjust the funding allocation for three specialty wildlife tags critical to the Department of Natural Resource’s nongame, trout management and bobwhite quail conservation programs.

Fugitive from Florida arrested here

gibsonBrantley deputies nabbed a fugitive from a Florida county last week.

Ramsey J. Gibson, 25, was arrested and charged with fugitive from justice.  Deputies encountered the offender at the Friendly Express and believed him to be wanted out of another county so a check was done which revealed Gibson was wanted out of Swanee County in Florida.   He was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

In other sheriff’s department activity:

4-11-2014

Deputies responded to the Dollar General in Hoboken in reference to damage to vehicle.  Complainant stated while they were parked someone opened the door to another vehicle and put a ding in their front fender.

Deputies responded to the Raybon Road. area in reference to theft by taking. Complainant stated that they were while they were incarcerated their vehicle had been moved from where they left it and several items were missing from inside.

Deputies met with the complainant at the Brantley County Sheriff’s Office in reference to terroristic threats and acts. complainant stated the offender threatened their life.

04-12-2014

Deputies and EMS personnel responded to the 17000 block of Hwy. 301 North in reference to a death.  Upon arrival they spoke with complainant who stated their father had passed away.

Get ready for pollen explosion, Georgia experts say

Sunny spring days and rising temperatures come with a price – pollen.

While weather experts might not have a clear idea on this season’s pollen counts, many should prepare for an onslaught of yellow powder that tends to blanket the region each year.

And the levels Georgians will see this year depend on a battle between an abundance of vegetation blooming all at once and the cleaning nature of recent rainfall, said David Stooksbury, University of Georgia professor and former state climatologist.

via Get ready for pollen explosion, Georgia experts say | The Augusta Chronicle.

Illness causes 50 Effingham eighth-graders to miss schoo

An illness that causes vomiting and lasts from 24 to 48 hours caused 50 eighth graders to miss school yesterday at Ebenezer Middle School in Effingham County.

Marsha Cornell, nursing coordinator for the school system, said today that it’s nothing unusual but that it is noticeable because it’s testing week and it’s toward the end of the typical cold and flu season.

She said parents were called earlier this week and asked to keep their children at home if they are sick, so the illness won’t spread.

savannahnow.com.

E-Z Go, Club Car meet challenges with innovation

About 10 percent of the Augusta area’s manufacturing workforce is invested in making golf cars and other electric vehicles. Augusta is the corporate headquarters and primary manufacturing home for E-Z-GO and Club Car, the two leaders in golf car production.

In the aftermath of the recession, both companies found ways to make money by making more electric vehicles with purposes other than golf – street-legal variants, utility carts and transportation for outdoorsmen.

The Augusta Chronicle.

Four years after buying Gilman property, St. Marys still looking for developer

Nearly four years after the city bought the Gilman Boathouse and its 2.8-acre lot on the downtown waterfront, city officials are still looking for someone to develop it. The property, now known as the Intracoastal Gateway Project, has sat empty since the city tore down the boathouse where the late Howard Gilman entertained guests.

“It’s a key piece of property on our historical waterfront,” said Jim Gant, chair of the Gateway Project’s steering committee.

Gant said city officials made a smart move when they purchased the property for $1.3 million, pointing out the appraisal value on the property was much higher.

Calvin Lang, who owns much of St. Marys waterfront property, would have liked to buy the land in 2010 but said he dropped out of the pursuit when he found out the city wanted it.

“I wouldn’t bid against the city,” he said. “I’d rather have them as a neighbor than anybody I could think of.”

When asked what he would have done with the property had he bought it, Lang said, “We were going to have a restaurant there and run fishing charters, so we could utilize the dock and the marina next door.”

He also would have built more rooms onto the boathouse that the city tore down in 2011.

“It would have been like a big bed and breakfast,” he said

The city had bigger plans.

 jacksonville.com.

Obamacare claims another victim

By Jack Kingston | This week brought more revelations about the unfolding disaster that is Obamacare. First, we learned how weak the “enrollee” numbers the liberal media keep trumpeting really are. Then, after he allowed his chief Obamacare implementer Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to quit under fire, we finally saw how disappointed Obama himself must be with his healthcare takeover.

The RAND Corporation is a research and analytics firm commissioned by the White House in late February to survey Obamacare enrollees. After some news leaked of the study, RAND continued to sit on the numbers for a month. Now we know why.

They found that over 5 million people lost their health insurance after Obamacare came online and that total enrollment was only half what the White House had originally estimated. In addition to these numbers, we already learned that these “enrollees” are not all paying their premiums, and the law itself will do little to reduce the number of uninsured Americans.

By every metric set for itself by the President and his cheerleaders, Obamacare has failed.

And what is the President’s reaction to this failure? Is it an apology to the American people and an honest effort to relieve their suffering, lower their premiums, and restore choice? No, it is to pass the buck and blame his staff.

Secretary Sebelius has spent her time as head of the Health and Human Services Department ignoring Congress’s requests, fraudulently spending taxpayer dollars, and outright lying to the American people. She should have been out long ago in my opinion. But just a week ago, she claimed to be sticking around for the long-term.

It appears she did the one thing you can get fired by this President for – no, not let one of your Ambassadors get murdered in Benghazi; nor pump diesel fumes down people’s throats; nor arm Mexican drug gangs that kill Border Patrol agents – she let him down on the law he named after himself.

I will remain vigilant overseeing Obamacare and continue to fight for your rights every day against this lawless Administration.

GSP investigates fatal crash on Hwy. 17 that killed teen

The Georgia State Patrol continues to investigate a wreck in Effingham County that left one teen dead and another hospitalized.

Crews responded to the scene of a head-on crash on GA Hwy 17 at Roebling Road Thursday morning. Effingham County officials say initial reports suggest that 18-year-old Shelby Peacock, the driver of a Ford truck, was traveling south on Hwy 17 when the truck crossed into oncoming traffic striking a Chevrolet Cavalier head-on.

Luke Hannon, 19, of Pooler, was driving the Cavalier that was struck by Peacock. Hannon was airlifted to Memorial University Medical Center where he later died Thursday afternoon.

The investigation is ongoing.

WTOC-TV

Charlton tax assessor’s office wants to ‘even the odds’ in court

When timber companies appeal their property tax assessments, they have high-powered attorneys to represent their interests in court. The Charlton County Tax Assessors board wants to level the playing field a little and hire special legal counsel of their own.

Last week, Michael Crews, chairman of the tax assessors board, submitted a written request to the county commission to hire an attorney who specializes in tax digest law to represent them. Tax Assessor Elaine Todd presented the request.

“We need an attorney to protect our digest,” she told the commissioners at the regular meeting last Thursday. “We have spent a lot of money in the last couple of years to finally get uniform and fair digest. We want to keep it that way.”

Todd said she knows current property values are “good” after the county spent over $300,000 recently to have the tax digest completely updated by an outside, private company. The county’s large timber tract owners, though, she says want the lowest valuations possible and are willing to pay their attorneys well to take their appeals to court.

via Charlton County Herald > News > Tax assessor’s office wants to ‘even the odds’ in court.

Trainwatchers flock to Folkston Saturday

Calvin Byrd, Ella Rodeffer, and Wade Rodeffer sell snowcones at train event

Around 1,000 trainwatchers flocked to Folkston over the weekend to take part in the annual Railwatch event held at the funnel and on the old depot grounds. The railfans enjoyed food, fun, fellowship and — of course — watching trains. But visitors weren’t the only ones come to town on Saturday. The Folkston Lions Club held a pancake breakfast which was well-attended by both trainwatchers and locals, as was a talk on the history of the depot given by Charlton’s own Jesse Crews. Some enterprising kids took advantage of all the visitors and sold snow cones to raise funds for the Sand Gnat recreation department ball team.

via Charlton County Herald

Hutcherson arrested on marijuana charges

hutcherson2Scotty Hutcherson, 23, was arrested Monday and charged with purchase, possession, manufacture marijuana.  Deputies responded to Rogers Lane in reference to an altercation.  While inside the residence with the victim deputies discovered a substance that was suspected to be marijuana.  Hutcherson was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

In other activity:

04-07-2014

Deputies responded to Raybon Auto in reference to Harassing Phone Calls/Civil Matter.  Complainant stated a customer was calling and being irate.

Deputies responded to Tabernacle Rd. in reference to Terroristic Threats and Acts. Complainant stated the offender had threatened to cause him physical harm.

Deputies responded to Old Stagecoach Rd. in reference to Trespassing.  Complainant stated there was a suspicious vehicle on their property.  There was a vehicle accident involving the complainant and the offender.

04-08-2014

Deputies responded to a call that occurred in the 1100 block of Miles Still Rd. in reference to Harassing Phone Calls.  Complainant stated that they were receiving harassing texts from the offender.

Deputies and fire personnel responded to the 1600 block of Mars Hill Rd. in reference to Structure Fire.  Upon arrival the home was fully involved.

04-09-2014

Deputies responded to the 1100 block of Chicora Rd. in reference to a Dog Killing his Chicken.  Complainant stated the neighbor’s dog came into his yard and killed his chicken.

Death of film worker in Wayne ‘senseless,’ father says

Less than two months after his daughter was killed on a film set in southeast Georgia, Richard Jones grapples with waves of unexpected grief, such as a day last week when a riverside walk at home in South Carolina took him past a railroad bridge.

“The train came and I lost it,” Jones said, tearing up at the painfully fresh memory. “It just hits and it’s hard to say when it’s going to come.”

A freight train crossing the Altamaha River on Feb. 20 killed 27-year-old camera assistant Sarah Jones as it plowed into a film crew in rural Wayne County. It was the first day of shooting “Midnight Rider,” a movie based on the life of Gregg Allman, starring William Hurt as the Allman Brothers Band singer.

Jones’ parents told The Associated Press on Wednesday the film’s producers needlessly put workers at risk. They have hired an Atlanta law firm to help them find answers and hold someone accountable.

“They did so many wrong things on so many levels, it’s just unbelievable,” said Richard Jones. “This should not have happened. It’s senseless.”

AccessNorthGa.

Reporters find more sewage spills in Valdosta

Wednesday afternoon, Times’ reporters went to a location off of Gil Harbin Industrial Boulevard searching for manholes in an area known for leaking. One manhole was repaired March 5, 2013, and another during the first week of April in 2014, and while the reporters were observing these manholes, they found another spill that the City of Valdosta was unaware of.

Henry Hicks, Valdosta’s director of utilities, denies that the repair made last year was on the leaking manhole found by the Times, but the Times has photographic evidence that the manhole was repaired last year, too.

The City of Valdosta was unaware of this leak, and officials do not know when it began, so there were no signs warning the public to stay out of the water that had toilet paper and baby wipes visibly flowing out of the spill site.

Valdosta Daily Times.

Steam problem triggers shutdown of Vogtle reactor

Plant Vogtle’s Unit 2 nuclear reactor shut down automatically Tuesday morning as a result of a loss of steam pressure, Southern Nuclear announced Wednesday.

A spokeswoman for Southern Nuclear, the sister company of Georgia Power that operates Plant Vogtle, said there were no injuries or release of radioactive material. The plant’s Unit 1 was already out of operation due to refueling and maintenance. Two additional reactors are under construction at the site near Waynesboro.

“The cause of the shutdown is being thoroughly investigated by our highly trained plant employees. Once the repairs are complete, employees will focus on bringing the unit safely back online,” said Jeannine Bailey, Southern Nuclear’s communications director.

The company reported the outage as required an hour after it occurred to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission which will review the incident before the reactor can be restarted.

The event comes on the eve of the NRC’s annual assessment of the two existing units on April 24.

Tom Clements, director of the Savannah River Site Watch environmental advocacy group, said the shutdown could have damaged the reactor.

“A ‘reactor trip’ is an unplanned event that puts stress on the reactor and is to be avoided. It appears that the shutdown took place as planned and that the reactor is being properly cooled, which is good to see,” he said.

He expressed frustration that neither Southern Nuclear or Georgia Power issued a press release about the shutdown until contacted by a reporter.

savannahnow.com.

Governor Deal’s wounds are all self-inflicted

By Tom Crawford |

Within minutes after a Fulton County jury returned a devastating verdict against the state ethics commission last week, Gov. Nathan Deal’s aides were already trying to put their own spin on the story.

Deal wasn’t the one, they said, who had forced the ethics commission director out of her job while she was trying to investigate complaints that had been filed against Deal’s 2010 campaign for governor.

It’s not his fault that the state is now on the hook to pay Stacey Kalberman nearly $1 million because of the verdict in that whistleblower lawsuit (the jury awarded her $700,000 in damages plus attorney’s fees and court costs).

This was merely “an internal dispute between former employees and former commissioners,” said a statement from the governor’s office. “Who the commission employed as staff had no relevance to the Deal for governor case.”

I know they won’t listen to me, but I’ll offer some advice to the governor’s staffers: Don’t waste your time trying to spin this.

via The Blackshear Times

Verdict against ethics panel is troubling signal

A Fulton County jury ruled Friday that Stacey Kalberman, former director of the state’s ethics commission, was subjected to retaliation for trying to investigate Gov. Nathan Deal’s 2010 gubernatorial campaign. She was awarded $700,000 plus attorney fees and back pay.

Even the former chair of the ethics panel — formally, the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission — Patrick Milsaps, who moved to cut Kalberman’s salary by $35,000, testified that the involvement of the governor’s office in picking her replacement “doesn’t pass the smell test.”

Indeed, the aroma emanating from this episode is hardly appealing.

Testimony in the civil trial indicated that at a May 3, 2011 commission meeting, Kalberman presented draft subpoenas for records related to the Deal campaign. Slightly more than a month later, she was told at another meeting that her salary would be reduced by about one-third and the position of her deputy, Sherilyn Streicker, would be eliminated.

The state’s case, as represented by the attorney general’s office, was that Streicker was let go and Kalberman’s salary slashed simply as a matter of economics. The agency was in budget trouble, and it didn’t help that Kalberman had sought raises for herself and her staff.

This is where the timeline gets interesting.

Columbus Ledger Enquirer.

Upcoming events

FRIDAY

High School One-Act Play Festival, Friday-Saturday, Armstrong Atlantic State University’s Fine Arts Auditorium, 11935 Abercorn St., Savannah. Performances scheduled throughout the day with an awards ceremony Saturday. Free. (912) 927-5381.

GnomeCon Convention, Friday-Sunday, Coastal Goergia Center, 305 Fahm St., Savannah. Includes a masquerade contest, comedian Phil Keeling, geek-centric activities, interactive panels, a dealer’s room and the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” will be shown on Saturday. $40. Registration required. gnomecon.org.

“Georgia on my Mind Day,” 11 a.m.-2 p.m., Georgia State Visitors Center, Interstate 95 North, Exit 1, Kingsland. Includes vendors and both decoration prizes, educational exhibits, animals visits and displays. Free. (912) 729-3253.

International Culture and Food Festival themed “One World — Many Faces,” 2-7:30 p.m., College of Coastal Georgia. Features a diverse heritage of art, food and live entertainment. Includes a KidFest area, a CultureEXPO, a Chalk Walk and Starving Artist tent for students to display their creations. (912) 262-2468.

“Blessing of the Fleet Festival” Friday-Sunday, Vernon Square, Darien. $5 ages 13 and older, children 12 and younger get in free with paying adult; Sunday events are free. (912) 437-6684 or blessingofthefleet.com,

■ Friday — 5 p.m.; music 6 p.m., Darien Waterfront Park.

■ Saturday — Blessing of the Feet 5K, 8 a.m.; Classic Car Show, 9 a.m., Darien Outlet Mall; Street Parade, 10 a.m., North Way; Art in the Park, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Vernon Square; vendors, 10 a.m.-10 p.m.; live entertainment, 6 p.m.; Vic Waters, 8 p.m.; fireworks 9 p.m.

■ Sunday — Art in the Park, 10 a.m.-5 p.m., Vernon Square; vendors, 11 a.m.; rock and soul music, noon-2 p.m., Waterfront Park Stage; marine parade and blessing, 2 p.m., Darien Bridge; parade awards and closing remarks, 4 p.m.

Hayrides and Campfire, 7-8 p.m., Crooked River State Park, 6222 Charlie Smith Senior Highway, St. Marys. Features a hayride around the park, followed by campfire fun with stories and songs. Bring s’mores supplies and a roasting stick. $1 admission, $5 parking. (912) 882-5256.

“Pinkalicious, the Musical,” 7 p.m. Friday, 3 p.m. Saturday-Sunday, Savannah Children’s Theatre, 2160 E. Victory Drive. $15 adults, $12 children, military and seniors. (912) 238-9015 or savannahchildrenstheatre.org.

jacksonville.com.

Pinova asked Glynn County judge to get its name off permit for former Hercules chemical plant

pinova

A Glynn County judge will decide whether Pinova Inc.’s purchase of a portion of the Hercules Inc. chemical plant in 2007 came with the potential responsibility of cleaning up the former owner’s pollution.

Superior Court Judge Stephen Kelley heard arguments Tuesday from Pinova’s lawyer Charles A. Perry and from Senior Assistant Attorney General Timothy J. Ritzka.Pinova wants its name off Hercules’ hazardous waste handling permit because it comes with the possibility of helping pay for an expensive cleanup of existing pollution.

Perry argued that the Georgia Environmental Protection Division was wrong in making Pinova a “co-permitee” with Hercules on the facility’s Resource Recovery Conservation Act permit, which is required of all companies that produce hazardous materials.

Pinova, which bought about half of the 360-acre Hercules property in 2007, sought to have its name removed from the permit, but EPD Director Judson H. Turner has refused and an administrative law judge said Turner had that legal right.

jacksonville.com.

Gangs have brought violence to Wayne County

Since December of last year, two people have been murdered. Four others were wounded in a Christmas Eve shooting that riddled a car with bullets in downtown Jesup. Last week another shootout occurred in broad daylight in a residential community.

Even before these events, several other deaths were known to be connected to the same cause. Almost daily break-ins and thefts are on the uptick.

What has brought about all this crime and violence?

In a word: gangs.

via The Press-Sentinel

Camden releases agenda for April 15 meeting

AGENDA 

Camden County Board of Commissioners 

Government Services Building, (Courthouse Square) 

200 East 4thStreet, 2nd Floor, Room 252, 

Commissioners’ Meeting Chambers 

Woodbine, Georgia 

Tuesday, April 15, 2014 

Convene Regular Meeting at 6:00 PM 

Opening Ceremonies 

 

Invocation

 

Pledge

 

Roll Call 

Agenda Amendments 

Adoption of Agenda 

Approval of Minutes 

 

April 1, 2014 regular meeting minutes

 

Presentations 

 

Coastal Georgia Film Alliance Activity Report presented by Doug Vaught

 

 

Fiscal Year 2014 Quarterly Report presented by Finance & Budet Director Mike Fender

 

Public Comments 

Old Business 

1. Consideration of requests regarding ad valorem taxes by Pam and Harry Browntree, BHT6502.

Regular Meeting 

Human Resources – Staci Bowick 

2. Memorandum of Understanding with the City of Kingsland for Clinic Services

3. Approval of Liazon Benefits, Inc. – Bright Choices Private Exchange Agreement for benefits marketplace

Finance & Budget – Mike Fender 

4. Approval of request to apply for Governor’s Office of Family & Children (GOFC) grant

Public Service Authority – William Brunson 

5. Consideration of approval to move forward with acceptance of donation of land.

Planning & Development – John Peterson 

6. Consideration of approval of a New Alcohol License for Lucretia Roberts for retail consumption of spirituous liquor, malt beverages, beer and wine for The Brown Derby Lounge located at 13363 U.S. Highway 17, Woodbine, GA.

Adjourn Regular Meeting 

Convene Public Hearing 

Public Hearing 

 

Introduction of regular agenda items 7 – 12 by Planning & Development Director John Peterson and receive public comments regarding these items.

 

Adjourn Public Hearing 

Reconvene Regular Meeting 

Regular Meeting 

Planning & Development – John Peterson 

7. Special Exception Variance – ZV2014-1 Preston & Karen Holliday are requesting a Special Exception Variance from 20’ minimum side yard setback to 5’ as required in UDC Sec. 210 (c) (4) respectively, in order to construct a proposed 22’ X 22’ enclosed metal building at 1404 Colerain Road, Kingsland, Ga., shown as Tax Map #069, Parcel #005D, Zoned A-R (Agricultural-Residential), with the Future Land Use Map shown as Residential.

8. Special Exception Variance – ZV-2014-2 Matt Jordan representing RLF Kingsland Properties, LLC, is requesting variances from UDC Sec. 1303.(b)(5) Public Street Frontage, to allow a 2 lot Minor Subdivision “Ten-lot Split”, and a recombination of RLF Kingsland Estate Subdivision Lots # 12 & 16, as proposed. RLF Kingsland Estate Subdivision Lots # 12 & 16 are shown on Tax Map 070C Parcels 012 and 016, Zoned A-F (General agricultural – forestry district), with the Future Land Use Map shown as “Residential”.

9. Special Exception Variance – ZV-2014-3 – Matt Jordan representing RLF Kingsland Properties, LLC, is requesting variances from UDC Sec. 1303. (b) (5) Public Street Frontage, to allow a 4 lot Minor Subdivision “Ten-lot Split”, and a recombination of RLF Kingsland Estate Subdivision Lots # 3 & 6 into 2 smaller Estate Subdivision lots as proposed. RLF Kingsland Estate Subdivision Lots # 3 & 6 are shown on Tax Map 070C Parcels 003 and 006, Zoned A-F (General agricultural – forestry district), with the Future Land Use Map shown as “Residential”.

10. Special Exception Variance – ZV-2014-4 – Matt Jordan, representing RLF Kingsland Properties, LLC, is requesting a variance from UDC Sec. 1303. (b) (5) Public Street Frontage, to allow a 6 lot Minor Subdivision “Ten-lot Split” of RLF Kingsland Estate Subdivision of Lot #1, as proposed. RLF Kingsland Estate Subdivision Lot # 1 is shown on Tax Map 070C Parcels 001, Zoned A-F (General agricultural – forestry district), with the Future Land Use Map shown as Residential”.

11. Future Land Use Map Amendment –FLU-2014-01 – David & Noel Brigmond are requesting a Future Land Use Map Amendment from “Residential” to “Rural” shown as 99 Acres of land, proposed for a farming use, located at the Western end of West Elizabeth Street, Kingsland, Ga. The Property is located on Tax Map #082, Parcel #26, with the Zoning shown as R-1, single-family residential on the Zoning Map.

12. Rezoning –RZ-2014-01 – David & Noel Brigmond are requesting a rezoning from R-1 Residential to A-F (Agricultural – Forestry) of 99 Acres of land, proposed for a farming use, located at the Western end of West Elizabeth Street, Kingsland, Ga. The Future Land Use Map shows the property as “Residential”. The Property is located on Tax Map #082, Parcel #26.

 

13.

Waive second reading and adopt amendments to UDC Sec. 501(b) (3)a and Sec. 501(b)(5)e. for Clarity and Consistency with Other UDC Verbiage and Meaning

 

Reports 

 

Calendar – April / May

 

County Administrator’s Report

 

Additional Public Comments 

Adjourn BOC Meeting 

Please be advised that this agenda is subject to amendments. As set forth in the American with Disabilities Act of 1992, Camden County does not discriminate, on the basis of disability, and will assist citizens with special needs, given proper notice. Please contact the Office of the County Clerk before 5:00 PM the day of the scheduled meeting at (912) 576-5651 for assistance. 

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Vidalia: There’s trouble in the onion fields

Like the rush to be the first to get bottles of Beaujolais nouveau to Paris or an Alaska Copper River king salmon to Seattle, the pressure to sell the first Vidalia onions of spring is intense. The identity of this town rests on the squat, sweet onion. This time of year, just before the first of the Vidalias are pulled from the sandy soil, the green tops farmers call quills cover nearly every field.

Mostly, Vidalias mean money in this corner of southern Georgia. The crop brings in about $150 million a year to legally registered growers in the 20 counties that make up the official Vidalia growing region.

But there is trouble in the onion fields. Three Vidalia growers took the state to court last year. Instead of shipping out their onions on April 21, a date set by the state for this year as a way to protect the Vidalia brand and to keep the playing field level, the growers wanted to send out some onions early.

NYTimes.com.

McCutcheon Supreme Court case a victory for free speech

By Luke Wachob

In striking down the aggregate limits on contributions to candidates, PACs and political parties challenged in McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court delivered a victory not only to political donors seeking to support more challenges to incumbents, but to everyone who is affected by American politics and law. The reason is a key and often forgotten point about the First Amendment: it protects speech, not speakers.

Freedom of speech is often treated as a contemptible burden in American politics; something that must be endured but not respected. When hateful speech is heard, or a wealthy individual spends huge sums of money on speech we disagree with, we commonly ask why they ought to possess a right that we feel does more harm than good. This was the general reaction to the McCutcheon decision: why does anyone need the right to spend more than $123,000 (the limit declared unconstitutional) on political contributions?

This misses the point by focusing solely on the speaker and ignoring the broader social benefits that result from a free and uninhibited exchange of ideas. Speech is constitutionally protected and unlimited because society benefits from the increased knowledge that is generated by it, and because the government cannot be trusted to decide what speech is “good” and what speech is “bad”. Chief Justice Roberts writes in the McCutcheon decision that “The First Amendment does not protect the government, even when the government purports to act through legislation reflecting “collective speech.””

The wisdom of this principle has been borne out by history, which teaches us that the power to censor is always used against those who criticize the powerful. This was true a century ago when the government prosecuted pacifists in World War I and communist sympathizers in the Red Scare. It is just as true today, when protestors at political conventions are put in caged “free speech zones”, such as at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, and when a majority of the nation’s universities maintain unconstitutional speech codes used to punish criticism, such as occurred in 2007 when Valdosta State University had a student “administratively withdrawn” (expelled) for criticizing the construction of a parking garage on campus.

Speech restrictions of all kinds exist to protect those in power from criticism. In the case of contribution limits, incumbents are protected from challengers. Despite its reputation as a tool of the establishment, money spent on political speech actually creates an opportunity to challenge entrenched political interests by increasing voter knowledge. This is especially valuable for outsider candidates running grassroots campaigns without the aid of connections to the ruling class or major media corporations. Pessimism about politics might lead us to think money spent on political advertising is wasted, but research shows that spending in campaigns is correlated with higher voter turnout and higher levels of public knowledge. This should not be surprising; the more advertisements you see about a candidate, the more likely you are to want to figure out what all the commotion is about and discuss the race with your friends.

This is how unlimited political speech comes to benefit everyone affected by American public policy: through producing a more informed, engaged electorate. Yet when cases like McCutcheon are discussed in the public sphere, they are presented as “wins” for large donors and “losses” for the rest of us.

This is nonsensical – speech is not a zero sum game. We all benefit from the exchange of ideas, regardless of their source. That is why cries of “corporations are not people!” are not an adequate response to the Citizens United decision which allowed corporations and unions to spend unlimited sums of money on political speech. The entity speaking does not matter, the speech itself does.

It is an unfortunate indication of our culture’s declining respect for the First Amendment that a ruling which removes an unnecessary restriction on the ability of citizens to participate in the political process is vilified. Perhaps that would begin to change if we recognized that more speech for Citizen A creates ripple effects increasing political participation throughout the system. He often speaks for thousands or millions of others who agree with him, and those who disagree may still be informed or motivated by his message. We must remember that voters are not robots who treat ads as orders, and in this social media age people can nearly instantly respond, rebut, subvert and lampoon the speech with others if the message is false or unpersuasive. And on Election Day, everyone still gets exactly one vote.

The answer to speech is more speech. The First Amendment should mean that the government does not get to say “you’ve said enough.” With McCutcheon v. FEC, the Supreme Court has brought us one big step closer to living up to that ideal.

Luke Wachob is the McWethy Fellow at the Center for Competitive Politics.

Whistleblower advocate for nation’s spies under attack?

The Pentagon’s inspector general is trying to suspend and possibly revoke the top secret access of the Defense Department’s former director of whistleblowing, triggering concerns in Congress that he’s being retaliated against for doing his job.

If the recommendation is acted on, Daniel Meyer would no longer be able to work in his current job as the executive director for intelligence community whistleblowing at a time when President Barack Obama’s reforms of the system are supposed to be underway .

The controversy over Meyer’s fate comes at an awkward moment for the Obama administration. Meyer, the Pentagon inspector general’s whistleblower advocate until last summer, was well-known for aggressively investigating whistleblower allegations. In his current job, he was supposed to have a key role in the president’s initiative to improve the intelligence whistleblowing system.

McClatchy DC.

State rail plan meetings set

The Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) has initiated the development of its 2014 Statewide Rail Plan. The purpose of the plan is to serve as a statewide long-range rail planning document and provide comprehensive industry data. It will cover the time period from the present to year 2040 for integration with the Georgia Statewide Transportation Plan (SWTP) and Statewide Strategic Transportation Plan (SSTP).

The plan will articulate State’s vision for freight and passenger rail services. Pursuant with federal requirements, the plan will include a description of the state rail network, its related transportation and economic impacts, and a proposed program of investments in the state rail system consistent with the state’s rail vision. The Department will conduct extensive outreach to the state’s railroads, shippers, ports, transit agencies, public sector transportation planners, neighboring states’ transportation officials and the public. This outreach will also be fundamental in establishing the state rail vision, along with supporting goals and objectives, to guide the Department’s rail planning and programing efforts into the future.

There will be six public meetings scheduled during 2014. They will be held in Dalton, Atlanta and Valdosta. During the first round of three public meetings in April, GDOT representatives will explain the purpose of the plan and hear what Georgians want and need from their rail system.

Listed below are the dates and locations for the first round of public meetings. All meetings are from 5-7 p.m., with a short presentation starting at 5:30 p.m. 

•  April 15, 2014: Dalton City Hall, 300 W. Waugh St., Dalton;

•  April 16, 2014: Atlanta Regional Commission, 40 Courtland St., Atlanta and

•  April 17, 2014: Valdosta City Hall Annex, 300 N. Lee St., Valdosta.

 

For those unable to attend the meetings and who would like to participate, the presentation and a short survey will be available on the project webpage the week of the meetings via the following link:

http://www.dot.ga.gov/travelingingeorgia/rail/Pages/StateRailPlan.aspx

During the second round of meetings in fall 2014, GDOT representatives will explain the plan’s recommendations and solicit public comment. Dates of the public meetings will be announced on the project webpage.  The planning effort will conclude in December 2014 with the publication of the 2014 Georgia State Rail Plan.  CDM Smith, a transportation planning and engineering firm, is assisting the Department in the plan’s development.   Inquiries about the plan can be directed to Harry Boxler, Project Manager at hboxler@dot.ga.gov or 404-631-1225.

Help wanted

Unison Behavioral Health seeks a full-time Behavioral Health Professional that will provide community support services in Brantley and Charlton counties.     $30,000/annually.  Excellent benefits available.  Applicant must have a Bachelors degree in one of the behavioral sciences or a related field and relevant experience.  All candidates are subject to drug screen, FBI criminal records check, and MVR.  The application (& more information about the position) can be obtained at http://www.unisonbehavioralhealth.com   (click Join Our Team) and emailed to ksmith@unisonbh.com , mailed to K. Smith at P.O. Box 1397,  Waycross 31502, or faxed to 912-449-7058.  Position open until filled.  E.O.E.

 

Dad charged with possession of firearm by felon after daughter accidentally shot to death

The father of a 10-year-old girl accidentally shot to death Friday has been charged in the illegal possession of the shotgun that killed her, the Ware County sheriff said Monday.

Taylor Marie Jowers died at her home just after 1 p.m. Friday when she was struck in the chest by a blast from a shotgun that a 15-year-old boy was in the process of unloading, said Ware County Sheriff Randy Royal.

In their subsequent investigation, Ware County detectives determined that the girl’s father, Joshua Scott Jowers, 33, is a felon and not allowed under Georgia law to possess any firearms, Royal said.

In addition to the 12-gauge shotgun, detectives seized other firearms from the home in the 4900 block of Jana Lane and then secured a felony warrant charging Jowers with possession of a firearm by a felon, he said.

jacksonville.com.

Volunteers, boats needed to remove damaging water hyacinth from Satilla River

The Satilla Riverkeeper is looking for volunteers and boats to help remove invasive water hyacinth from the river and its tributaries April 14 and 15.

Native to South American, water hyacinth grows profusely in old rice canals, oxbow lakes, small tributaries, ponds and other places where the water moves slowly.

It restricts light penetration, depletes oxygen levels in water and harms aquatic life.

Those who volunteer will remove the plants which float in large mats in portions of the river. The mats can double in size in two weeks.

When water hyacinth is found, it can be disposed of by putting it in the trash, composting it or leaving it on dry land to die.

For more information or to volunteer, call the Riverkeeper at (912) 510-9500 or send an email to riverkeeper@satillariverkeeper.org.

via Volunteers and boats needed to remove damaging water hyacinth from Satilla River | members.jacksonville.com.

Easter weekend county park use permitted in spite of trouble

For over 40 years, the baseball game in The Sticks on Easter was a Charlton County tradition. That all changed in the early 2000s when local officials say the event got out of hand and a shooting occurred in what is now Chatman-Mobley Park.

It’s been more than 10 years since the last Easter ballgame, although nearly every year a request has been made to the Charlton County Commission to hold the event in the park. Up until this year, the request has been denied and it appeared it would be again.

via Charlton County Herald

Tybee Island braces for unsanctioned ‘Orange Crush’ beach party

orange crushTybee Island officials say they’re bringing in extra police officers from nearby communities for the expected spring gathering of young people known as “Orange Crush.”

Authorities say they’ve learned from social media that Orange Crush will likely take place April 19, so the extra officers will be on the island during that day and into the early morning the following day. The event is not officially sanctioned, and word typically spreads through social media.

Tybee Island officials are expecting traffic delays, which could begin as early as 2 p.m. April 19 and last well into the evening.

On Easter Sunday, Tybee Island plans its annual inter-denominational Sunrise Service at the pier. City officials say they’re taking every step to ensure that the area is clean before the sun rises on Sunday.

via Tybee Island braces for unsanctioned beach party known as ‘Orange Crush’ | members.jacksonville.com.

Sheriff’s report

sheriff cap sm04-03-2014

Deputies responded to Lynn Holly Lane in reference to a Structure Fire.  Complainant stated they heard a loud noise outside and when they went to look the trailer was on fire. A vehicle was also burned in the fire.

Deputies responded to the 13000 block of Central Ave. in reference to a Theft by Taking/Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated that a step ladder had been taking from the back of their truck.

04-04-2014

Deputies responded to the 1100 block of Perry Johns Rd. in reference to Theft by Taking.  Complainant stated that their wallet and a large sum of money were stolen.

Deputies responded to Rogers Rd. in reference to a Scam.  Complainant stated he was contacted by phone and told that he had won two million dollars and a Mercedes.  The complainant was told to send a sum of money to an address and he would receive the prizes.

Deputies responded to Sandy Loop Sheppard’s Landing in reference to Accidental Damage.  Complainant stated he had rented a car to a subject and it was left at this location.  Due to the rising river levels the car had been flooded.

Deputies responded to the 400 block of Cardinal Road in reference to Criminal Attempt to Commit a Felony/Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated that while they were asleep inside the home someone kicked in the door.  When the complainant called the offender fled.

04-05-2014

Deputies responded to Mars Hill Road in reference to Suicidal Threats.  Deputies were able to transport the subject to Mayo to be evaluated.

Deputies responded to the 40 block of Hightower Rd. in reference to Criminal Trespass. Complainant stated that a juvenile had knocked the glass out of the front door and damaged an interior door.

Anthony R. Goolsby (21) was arrested and charged with Driving While License Suspended or Revoked.   While deputies were following up on a lead in reference to a subject who was wanted on felony charges they observed Goolsby driving a van.  A Check was done on Goolsby and it was discovered his license were suspended.  Goolsby was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

04-06-2014

Scott B. Brown (41) was arrested and charged with Disorderly Conduct.  Deputies responded to the 60 block of Dude Circle and met with parties involved.  Complainant stated there was an altercation between him and Scott.  As Scott was being questioned he got loud several times.  After been told to calm down without compliance Scott was transported to the Brantley County Detention Center.

Deputies met with complainant at the Friendly Express in reference to Terroristic Threats and Acts that occurred in the 5600 block of Caney Bay Rd.   Complainant stated the offender had threatened them and continuously rides by their residence.

Deputies responded to the 7600 block of Caney Bay Rd. in reference to Harassing Phone Calls.  Complainant stated the offender sends harassing text messages.

Deputies responded to Dixon Rd. in reference to Theft by Taking/Criminal Trespass.  Complainant stated that the A/C unit from one of their rental homes had been stolen and there was damage to the inside of the home.

04-07-2014

Deputies responded to Jess Allen Rd. in reference to Structure Fire.  Complainant stated that they had gone to Waycross and when they returned the home was on fire.

 

High resolution images of coast available

The Coastal Resources Division(CRD) of the Georgia  Department Natural Resources (DNR) in partnership with coastal counties and federal, state and local resource agencies recently acquired high resolution aerial images of coastal Georgia.  These images, commonly referred to as orthoimagery data, are highly accurate and are used in geographic information systems (GIS) by local, state, and federal governments, natural resource managers, land use planners, foresters, and researchers.

State resource agencies such as DNR use this imagery for a variety of purposes including habitat mapping, land use analysis and permitting.  When up- to-date images are needed the Department will utilize photography taken from helicopters which provides an instantaneous image of a small scale area.  However, this is not practical for large areas nor is it spatially accurate for use in GIS.

“The new orthoimagery dataset provides an accurate, high resolution, regional picture of coastal Georgia,” says Sonny Emmert, CRD coastal resources specialist.  Besides being of great value to DNR, local governments and other state and federal agencies will benefit greatly from this dataset.”

The imagery project began in late 2011 when Savannah Area GIS brought the partners together.  The aerial orthoimagery was acquired during January 2013 at low tide by PhotoScience and delivered to DNR and the multiple partners: county governments of Chatham, Bryan, Effingham, Liberty, Bryan, McIntosh, Glynn, University of Georgia, Coastal Regional Commission, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, NOAA, and the U.S. Geological Survey.  Participation by such numerous partners lowered the individual cost contributions, assisted in gaining project support, and ensured thorough regional coverage.

The imagery is now available for download through the NOAA Coastal Services Center Digital Coast website at https://www.csc.noaa.gov/digitalcoast  

For additional information on the orthoimagery project please contact Sonny Emmert at (912) 264-7218.

Yeomans graduates military training

Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Dustin E. Yeomans, the son of Tony and Suzanne Yeomans of Hoboken, graduated from basic military training at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland, San Antonio, Texas.

The airman completed an intensive, eight-week program that included training in military discipline and studies, Air Force core values, physical fitness, and basic warfare principles and skills.

Airmen who complete basic training earn four credits toward an associate in applied science degree through the Community College of the Air Force.

Yeomans earned distinction as an honor graduate.

The airman is a 2011 graduate of Brantley County High School

Gasoline prices up 7.7 cents

Average retail gasoline prices in Georgia have risen 7.7 cents per gallon in the past week, averaging $3.51/g yesterday, according to GasBuddy’s daily survey of 5,883 gas outlets in Georgia. This compares with the national average that has increased 1.3 cents per gallon in the last week to $3.55/g, according to gasoline price website GasBuddy.com.

Including the change in gas prices in Georgia during the past week, prices yesterday were 7.8 cents per gallon higher than the same day one year ago and are 20.5 cents per gallon higher than a month ago. The national average has increased 7.4 cents per gallon during the last month and stands 3.1 cents per gallon lower than this day one year ago.

“Gasoline prices have seen an ever so slight increase in the last week across a good portion of the nation, which is certainly good news for spring break travelers,” said GasBuddy.com Senior Petroleum Analyst Patrick DeHaan. “For those who may be headed to California, they may be greeted with rising prices to the tune of 10-20 cents per gallon over the next two weeks. For much of the rest of the country, including Florida destinations, prices shouldn’t be holding many back from hitting the road. This spring has seen very little volatility so far, and if it remains that way, I may have to revise downward my forecast for gas prices for the rest of April and May, which my wallet would certainly love,” DeHaan said.

9-11 girder given bicycle honor escort through Blackshear

A team of New York City firefighters cycled through Pierce County Monday, along with a piece of rubble from the fallen World Trade Center. The group was taking the relic to a new home at the National Navy SEAL Museum in Florida.

Six firefighters on bicycles, along with two escort vehicles, were nearing the end of a 104-mile leg from Savannah to Waycross. Monday’s trip brought them through Offerman, Patterson and Blackshear along U.S. Highway 84.

Their cargo is a 14-foot steel I-beam recovered from the September 11 terrorist attack in New York City. The beam, displayed on an open-air trailer, is destined for the museum in Ft. Pierce, Fla.

The 1,400-mile FDNY Ride for the Trident House began March 19 from the World Trade Center Memorial, and also included a stop at the Pentagon Memorial in Washington, D.C. to pay respects to whose who died there in the terrorist attack.

The Trident House aids families of fallen SEALs. The ride is a way of recognizing the Navy SEAL and military community for their sacrifices to protect their country.

The caravan is expected to arrive at its destination Saturday. The firefighters from Engine 9, Ladder 6 will present the I-beam to the museum.

via The Blackshear Times | Blackshear, Pierce County, Ga. > Archives > News > 9-11 remnant given bicycle honor escort.

11-year-old Jacksonville boy killed in Savannah

Family and friends of Montrez Borroughs are still coming to terms with what happened.

“It really hasn’t hit me yet, but it hits the family.  But it’s like it’s not real,” said Borroughs’ cousin, Denisha Coppock.

Friday night, Savannah police say Borroughs, 11, was shot and killed by his 12-year-old nephew.  They say the boys were playing with a gun, when it fired, hitting Borroughs in the chest.  The victim’s family members says they do not believe any adults were around at the time.

His aunt, Shaleena Hamilton, said, “I think the parent and the child need to be charged.  Because you have to take charge of your household and you have to be responsible for what goes on in your house.”

Action News has learned that Borroughs was from Savannah, but had recently moved to Jacksonville with his mother.  His family says he was a student at Pinedale Elementary School on the Westside.  He was in Savannah for a weekend visit.

The 12-year-old suspect has been charged with involuntary manslaughter, reckless conduct, and possession of a firearm by a person under the age of 18.  He is being held in a juvenile detention facility.

As of right now, the child is the only person charged in Borroughs’ death.  We’re working to find out how the kids got a hold of the gun, and who it belonged to, and if any adults will be charged.

 

ActionNewsJax.com.