COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • The Clarke County Jail Is Now Detaining Undocumented Immigrants for Deportation

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file

    Athens residents protest the Trump Administration's immigration policies in September.

    More than a dozen inmates at the Clarke County Jail have been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement since the Clarke County Sheriff's Office reversed its policy in July and started holding undocumented immigrants for ICE.

    The Red & Black reported that the reversal came about because of "changes to the Department of Homeland Security’s policy."

    “In light of these changes, and in keeping with our role and responsibility for community safety with respect to the detention of individuals with outstanding warrants, we now recognize ICE detainers that are supported by a warrant for arrest or warrant for removal or deportation,” Captain Hayden Hodges of the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.

    At ICE's request, the sheriff's office will now detain inmates at the local jail for up to 48 hours after they're scheduled to be released. ICE has made 17 such requests and picked up 13 inmates, Hodges told Flagpole.

  • Driver Who Killed Athens Cyclist Sentenced to 25 Years

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Matt Hardy/file

    A memorial for Ashley Block in September 2016.

    A Madison County woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison for hitting a killing a University of Georgia graduate student and another cyclist while driving intoxicated and distracted, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.

    Judge Eric Norris sentenced Whitney Baker Howard, 32, to a total of 31 years. She will serve the last six on probation. Howard was convicted of two counts of felony vehicular homicide and several other charges in October.

    Howard's SUV crossed the center line on Athena Drive while answering her phone is September 2016 and hit Ashley Block and Mitchell Enfinger, killing Block and seriously injuring Enfinger.

  • Need Legal Advice? Two Free Clinics Are This Week

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Superior Court Judge Regina Quick has organized a free legal clinic Saturday.

    The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement will host a "Know Your Rights" workshop at 5:30 p.m. today at the Athens-Clarke County Library to educate people on how to file complaints under the city's anti-discrimination ordinance.

    Speakers will include lawyers Nancee Tomilson on civil rights and John Beasly on workplace discrimination, and ACC Attorney Bill Berryman on the "bar admittance" ordinance, which bans bars from denying entry based on factors like race, gender identity or sexual orientation.

    Saturday, newly sworn-in Superior Court Judge Regina Quick will host the first of several "Access to Justice Pop-Up Clinics" from 9–11 a.m. at the Rocksprings Community Center.

  • Nick Chubb's Fascinating Family History

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: UGA Athletic Association

    For all of Georgia running back Nick Chubb's accomplishments on the football field, what his ancestors did may be even more impressive.

    The Atlanta news website Saporta Report ran a story Monday on the Chubb family history, and it is incredible.

    In 1851, eight Chubb brothers, all freed slaves, moved from North Carolina to Madison, GA, about 30 miles south of Athens, then settled near Rome, founding an unincorporated community called Chubbtown.

  • Commission Considers Deal to Sell Parking Lot to Hotel Indigo

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Athens-Clarke County Commission will vote tonight on a deal to sell Strong Street and a city-owned parking lot between Strong and Dougherty Street to Hotel Indigo for a development that will include hotel rooms and office space.

    The deal calls for ACC to sell the property to Athens Hospitality Holdings LLC, the company that owns Hotel Indigo, for $3 million. Athens Hospitality Holdings would then build a new five-story development on the property that would include 45 hotel rooms; office space for the ACC Economic Development Department; 8,000 square feet of meeting and event space; 7,000 square feet of coworking space where entrepreneurs and startups could rent desks, offices and conference rooms; a street-level restaurant; a rooftop bar and 60 underground parking spots. Strong Street would be closed and converted into a courtyard.

  • Tenants Flock Online to Complain About Athens' Latest Luxury Student Housing Development

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file

    The Mark, as seen from the newly opened Firefly Trail last month.

    Dozens of tenants—presumably, mostly University of Georgia students—have left reviews online saying were taken for marks when they signed leases at The Mark, the newest of several luxury student housing developments downtown.

    The Mark advertises itself as "high-end living" with "luxurious amenities"—including a golf simulator, tanning beds, game room, rooftop pool and self-serve Starbucks—and "well-appointed with luxury finishes unrivaled by other student accomodations in Athens," like granite countertops and stainless-steel appliances.

    But The Mark has received just 1.6 stars out of five on Google—far lower than nearby complexes like 909 Broad (3.7), the Flats at Carr's Hill (3.9), Uncommon Athens (4.7) or The Standard (3.4), which was built by the same company as The Mark, Athens-based Landmark Properties, but is now under different ownership.

  • RIP Former Commissioner Charles Carter

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Lord & Stephens

    Former ACC commissioner Charles Carter died on Thursday morning at the age of 91.

    The Winterville native, a cattle farmer, represented District 1 in rural eastern Clarke County from unification in 1991 until his retirement in 2006.

    “He was a man of few words, so when he spoke, everyone listened,” said Sharyn Dickerson, who worked for ACC when he was a commissioner and now represents District 1.

  • UPDATE: Democrats Score Stunning Wins in Athens State House Elections; T-SPLOST Approved

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson

    Jonathan Wallace supporters celebrate after learning he won the state House District 119 race.

    Democrats won shocking victories in two special elections for Athens-area state House seats on Tuesday, winning the conservative-leaning seats in spite of well-funded opposition from Republicans.

    In District 117, Deborah Gonzalez overcame Republican opponent Houston Gaines' $200,000 war chest and much-publicized support from Democratic Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson. 

    As of 9 p.m., Gonzalez led Gaines 53 percent to 47 percent, with some Clarke County precincts left to be counted, but all the votes in staunchly Republican Oconee, Jackson and Barrow counties have been counted, leaving Gaines no chance to catch up.

    Likewise, with all Oconee precincts reporting, Jonathan Wallace avoided a runoff by winning 56percent of the vote in District 119, which historically leans even further to the right than 117. (Both districts were specifically drawn to elect Republicans.)

  • Several Athens Voting Locations Have Changed

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens voters go to the polls Tuesday to decide on a 1 percent sales tax for transportation and (for some) to elect a new state representative.

    Be aware that a few polling places have changed:

  • Driver Convicted of Killing Athens Cyclist

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Whitney Baker Howard.

    An Athens driver was found guilty Wednesday of plowing into a group of cyclists on Athena Drive last year, killing one and injuring at least two others.

    Whitney Baker Howard, 32, was found guilty on 11 counts, according to The Red & Black, including two felony counts of homicide by vehicle in the first degree, six felony counts of serious injury by a vehicle, one count of driving under the influence of drugs, one count of improper lane change and one count of endangering the life of a child.

  • House Candidate Houston Gaines Raises $200,000

    Blog: In the Loop

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    I'm rich!

    Republican Houston Gaines had raised nearly $200,000 as of last week for his Athens-area House District 117 race, outpacing Democratic opponent Deborah Gonzalez nearly four-to-one.

    In documents filed Monday with the Georgia Government Transparency and Campaign Finance Commission, Gaines reported raising $196, 251 and had $140,436 on hand as of Oct. 23, 15 days before Election Day, Nov. 7.

    It's a common strategy for candidates with such overwhelming fundraising advantages to keep some of their powder dry to ward off future challengers.

    Gaines' list of contributors is a Who's Who of powerful, connected Republican politicians and business interests in Athens and Atlanta.

  • Race and Gender Are Issues Now in Athens House Race

    Blog: In the Loop

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    As you can tell, Houston Gaines is white, male and young. Which of these things makes him unique, we have no idea.

    In Monday's Federation of Neighborhoods candidate forum, Republican Houston Gaines kept referring to the "unique perspective" he'd bring to the state House of Representatives.

    One would think that Gaines, who just graduated from the University of Georgia in May, was referring to his youth. When Flagpole intern Nate Harris asked him what made him unique, though, Gaines' answer was anything but clear.

    After much hemming and hawing, Gaines at one point said, "It's obvious just by looking at us that we have a different perspective."

  • 8,000-Seat Amphitheater Proposed in Athens

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A local developer has filed plans for an 8,000 amphitheater off Commerce Road just north of the Loop.

    The plans call for "a large front plaza, terraced turf seating, box seating, covered pavilion seating, concessions, stage, sky suites, office, lodging for performers and service area for performers and vendors," as well as 1,803 parking spaces, according to the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.

    It will host "mid-range bands" that are too big to play the Classic Center but too small for an Atlanta stadium, said James Warnes, the zoning lawyer for the project.

    The developer is Clint Larkin, a former University of Georgia football player who lives in nearby Carlton and is also involved in the Hyatt Regency under construction next door to the Classic Center, Warnes said.

  • Athens Man Shoots Woman, Shot At by Officer, Shoots Himself During Domestic Dispute

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Police Chief Scott Freeman (right) shows reporters video from an officer's body camera.

    A man shot and killed a woman during a domestic dispute off Hawthorne Avenue this afternoon, then turned the gun on himself.

    An Athens-Clarke County police officer responded to a call at about 4 p.m. about a domestic dispute involving a handgun at the Columbia Brookside apartment complex.

    The shooting started "immediately, as soon [the officer] as arrived and got out of his car," ACCPD Chief Scott Freeman told reporters at a news conference tonight. "The officer witnessed this shooting, and he returned fire in an effort to stop the threat."

  • Police: Pedestrian Hit on Prince Was Not in Crosswalk

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Google Streetview

    A pedestrian who was hit by a minivan on Friday was not using a nearby crosswalk, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

    The pedestrian, an approximately 51-year-old man with a Honeysuckle Lane address, was crossing Prince Avenue from south to north near the entrance to Dunkin' Donuts at about 8 a.m. Friday when he was hit by an eastbound Honda Odyssey driven by an approximately 41-year-old Athens man, according to a police report.

    "The pedestrian walked into the path of the Odyssey and was struck by [it]," the report says.

  • The Eastside Is Finally Getting an Aldi

    Blog: In the Loop

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    This is what an Aldi looks like.

    German discount grocery store chain Aldi is opening a second Athens location, this one in a shopping center on Gaines School Road near the Cedar Shoals Drive intersection.

    The company filed plans with Athens-Clarke County last week to renovate the 21,000 square-foot space, formerly occupied by Omni Club.

    "At this point, we are working through the process of obtaining permits and hope to begin construction in the next couple months," said Aldi Jefferson Division Vice President Thom Behtz.

  • Forums Scheduled for Athens State House Races

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Civic and political groups have scheduled several forums in Athens and Oconee County over the next month for voters to hear from candidates running for two open state House of Representatives seats.

    On Thursday, the Oconee County Republican Party will host three or possibly all four of the GOP candidates running for those seats. District 117 candidate Houston Gaines and District 119 candidates Tom Lord and Marcus Wiedower have confirmed they will attend, while fellow District 119 candidate Steven Strickland is trying to rearrange his schedule, according to Oconee County journalist Lee Becker. The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. at the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.

    Jonathan Wallace, who's running as a Democrat in District 119, will officially kick off his campaign with a rally at 11 a.m. Saturday at the Oconee County Courthouse:

  • John Barrow Is Running for Secretary of State

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Former congressman and Athens-Clarke County commissioner John Barrow is running for secretary of state, he announced at a Clarke County Democrats barbecue on Sunday.

    Barrow, a Democrat who's shown a knack for winning in conservative areas, will be a strong candidate for the open position. Current Secretary of State Brian Kemp, another Athenian, is leaving the post to run for governor.

    Barrow said in a press release that he refuses to “stand on the sidelines when we face such huge challenges” and vowed to protect the right to vote, cut regulations and crack down on fraud.

  • Creature Comforts Releases New IPA and More Athens Beer News

    Blog: Grub Notes

    Creature Comfort's latest small-batch brew, an IPA called Crescendo, will be released at its tasting room tonight on draft and Friday in four-packs of 16-ounce cans.

    The brewery describes Crescendo as "a slightly hazy IPA with notes of honeydew, white peach skin, pineapple, and orange" from the El Dorado, Galaxy and Grungeist hops. It's 7.2% ABV.

  • RIP Versatyle tha Wildchyld

    Blog: Homedrone

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    Athens rapper Versatyle tha Wyldchild died in his sleep Sunday night, friends of the popular musician and activist confirmed tonight.

    Versatyle (real name Anthony Bernard Little) had been in poor health for some time, but his death was unexpected, according to friends.

    He was a fixture on the local hip-hop scene for many years. He was part of the socially conscious Dreaded Mindz collective and more recently had formed his own clique of younger artists, The Wild Wolf Pack. Flagpole ran a three-part series on Little's life and career in 2014.

    He was also active politically, volunteering in schools, working with the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement and speaking out about issues facing the African-American community. Sunday, he attended Tim Denson's Athens-Clarke County Commission District 5 campaign kickoff at Bishop Park.

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