COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Rep. Jody Hice Is Now in Favor of Trumpcare

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Athens congressman Jody Hice was one of the uber-conservative House members who helped scuttle President Donald Trump and Speaker Paul Ryan's attempt to undo much of Obamacare back in March.

    The American Health Care Act would have thrown more than 20 million people off their policies by sunsetting Medicaid expansion and cutting subsidies for older low-income people.

    Moderate Republicans said it went too far, while the House Freedom Caucus, of which Hice is a member, wanted an even more draconian plan. But the tea party has come around to the latest version of the Republican health care bill, although it remains unclear whether it will also win moderate support.

    Hice said in a written statement:

  • Driver Injured in Prince Avenue Wreck

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele

    Bystanders gather around an injured driver after a wreck outside Hendershot's this afternoon.

    A three-car wreck on Prince Avenue injured one person and startled dozens of others on the patio at the Bottleworks—and it could've been a lot worse.

    Flagpole was on the scene, of course, since it happed right outside our office.

    At about 12:40 p.m., according to witnesses, a purple sedan traveling westbound on Prince suddenly swerved or turned, hitting a white SUV and a silver hatchback.

    The driver of the purple sedan was lying on the ground for several minutes before an ambulance arrived. He suffered a "serious injury," according to Athens-Clarke County police spokesman Epifiano Rodriguez.

  • G-Day Isn't Just for Football—It's for Politics, Too

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Yeah, yeah, G-Day is tomorrow, but plenty is going on in Athens for those who are more interested in #resisting Trump than who's gonna be the Dawgs' third-string middle linebacker this fall.

    Kick off the day with the Athens-Clarke County Democrats' monthly breakfast at 10 a.m. at First AME Church at the corner of Hull and Dougherty. UGA professor Richard Winfield will discuss universal basic income and publicly guaranteed employment. 

    Next, if you're still hungry, head to the Athens Economic Justice Coalition's cookoff in support of a living wage from 11 a.m.–1 p.m. at Memorial Park.

  • Downtown Hotel Construction Accident Injures Three

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Tim Denson

    A parking deck at the Hyatt Place hotel under construction on Thomas Street partially collapsed earlier tonight, injuring three construction workers.

    The accident happened around 7:30 p.m., as people were leaving the Envision Athens town hall meeting at the Classic Center next door. 

    Classic Center Executive Director Paul Cramer said he was not sure exactly what happened, but it appears that either a section of the deck collapsed, or a crane may have dropped a piece of pre-cast concrete onto the deck. Part of the deck was damaged, and a piece of concrete lay shattered on the ground nearby.

  • ACC Is Making Crosswalks Safer All Over Athens

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele

    Workers install a pedestrian refuge island on Prince Avenue at Piedmont College Tuesday morning.

    Athens-Clarke County workers are installing two pedestrian refuge islands on Prince Avenue this week, and similar improvements will be coming to other parts of the city within the next couple of months.

    The Transportation and Public Works Department is installing the islands at mid-block crosswalks at Pope Street and Piedmont College. They give pedestrians a place to pause safely after crossing two lanes of traffic before crossing the other two.

    "They're small, but they do provide some protection for the pedestrian," TPW Traffic Engineer Steve Decker said.

  • 'Progressive Conservative' Antwon Stephens Announces Mayoral Candidacy

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Stephens' Facebook profile features a photo of himself with Tiffany Trump.

    Earlier today, I received a press release announcing a new candidate for mayor. Just one thing was missing: a name.

    Apparently he announced on Tim Bryant's radio show this morning, but I didn't catch it. After some online speculation—Batman? "The Man With No Name," Clint Eastwood? Should we get the Hardy Boys on the case?—campaign manager April Carson was kind enough to fill me in. The candidate is Antwon Stephens.

    If the name sounds familiar, it's because Stephens—then going by Keyantwon—was involved in a controversy as the 17-year-old head of the Athens Tea Party Patriots back in 2013.

  • Campus Carry Opponents Plan Online Action

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Poetry Action Network

    As they did last year, the Poetry Action Network—a group of Athens writers led by Magdalena Zurawaski, Laura Solomon and Jenny Gropp—is taking to Twitter to oppose "campus carry" legislation passed by the Georgia legislature.

    The Poetry Action Network is asking campus carry critics to download a sign here, print it out, take a picture of themselves holding the sign, and tweet the photo to @vetocampuscarry or @poetryaction, or email it to poetryactionnetwork@gmail.com. The photos will be tweeted at Gov. Nathan Deal all day in an effort to convince him to veto House Bill 280.

  • Even More Beer News (and Baseball!)

    Blog: Grub Notes

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    "Yes, the Braves are terrible, but at least we're drunk."

    It's Athens Beer Week, and there's even more going on than we could cram into this rather lengthy roundup of local beer news.

    In addition to Terrapin's 15th anniversary event Saturday, Creature Comforts will celebrate its third anniversary Apr. 22 and 23, and tickets go on sale tomorrow (there are two levels, $30 and $40). The tour entitles you to 36 ounces of beer samples, and you can choose from among a list of 30.

  • Rep. Jody Hice Hosts Telephone Town Hall Today

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Who you gonna call?

    U.S. Rep. Jody Hice—the Republican who represents most of Athens—has been largely MIA, other than a speech to a private club in February.

    But you can hear, if not see, and maybe even question (if you're lucky) Hice during a tele-town hall today from 6:15–7:15 p.m.

  • Clarke County School Superintendent Nominee Demond Means Is 'All In' on Social Justice

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele

    Means speaks at a public forum Monday night at Whitehead Road Elementary School.

    Speaking to an audience of Athens parents, teachers and concerned citizens for the first time, Demond Means, the sole finalist for Clarke County school superintendent, described himself as someone who's committed to social justice, marginalized students and raising his family in Clarke County.

    The board is expected to formally appoint Means today after a public forum Monday night.

    Although Means has been superintendent of a smaller, largely white and affluent district in suburban Milwaukee for nine years, he was raised in inner-city Milwaukee and graduated from public schools there.

    One of the reasons he felt drawn to Clarke County, he said, is the opportunity to help minority and low-income students. (CCSD is 79 percent minority, and more than 80 percent of students qualified for free or reduced-price lunches before a USDA grant made them free for everyone.)

    "I firmly believe our most marginalized children deserve the most attention," he said. "Those children who don't have an advocate in the superintendent's office or other places are the ones who need us the most."

  • CCSD Names Sole Finalist for Superintendent

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: screencap via YouTube

    The Clarke County School District will introduce Demond Means as its sole finalist for CCSD superintendent at a public forum tonight, the district announced this morning.

    Means, a Milwaukee native, has been the superintendent of the Mequon-Thiensville school district in suburban Milwaukee since 2008. He also has experience as a high-school social studies teacher, assistant principal and associate principle, middle-school principal and human resources director, all in Wisconsin.

  • Deal Is Likely to Sign Campus Carry; Kemp Is Officially In for Governor

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Brian Kemp will #MAGA (Make American flags Giant Again).

    For your Sunday reading pleasure, here are a couple of items from the AJC that will be of special interest to Athenians:

    First, Greg Bluestein reports on whether Gov. Nathan Deal, who vetoed campus carry last year, will sign it this time. He says it's likely, because exceptions added to the bill this year make it more palatable to the governor.

  • CCSD Will Name Sole Superintendent Finalist Monday

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Clarke County Board of Education will introduce its sole finalist for superintendent at a public forum Monday night, the district announced late Friday.

    Naming a sole finalist is a reversal for the school board, which had previously said it would name three finalists and allow the public to question them before making a final decision.

    Here's the news release from CCSD:

  • CCSD Announces Location for Superintendent Candidate Forum

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A forum Monday with the finalist(s) for Clarke County School District superintendent will be held at Whitehead Road Elementary, the district announced today.

    Whitehead is in the northwest corner of the county, at least a 20-minute drive from the Eastside and not on a bus line. Why such an inconvenient location?

    "Much of our community has not had the opportunity to visit Whitehead Road Elementary School,  which is truly an incredible learning environment," CCSD spokeswoman Anisa Sullivan Jimenez said. "We hope individuals will come and see their tax dollars at work at this important community event."

  • Georgia Senate Passes Campus Carry Bill

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Georgia Senate passed a slightly tweaked version of HB 280, the "campus carry" bill, this afternoon, setting up negotiations with the state House and Gov. Nathan Deal over the final version of the bill before the legislative session ends at midnight Thursday.

    As with the past four efforts to push through campus-carry legislation, the bill would allow concealed-carry permit holders to bring their guns onto college campuses, with the exception of fraternity and sorority houses, dorms and athletic events.

  • Help ABH Reporter Joe Johnson Beat Cancer

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Those of you who are regular readers of the local daily will recognize the name Joe Johnson. He's been the paper's ace crime reporter for about 15 years—the guy who not only writes those hilarious blotter items, but covered dozens of murder trials, hung out with gang members when police denied Athens had gangs, exposed wrongdoing at the county jail and broke countless other big stories over the years.

    The tough-as-nails New Yorker was recently diagnosed with a brain tumor and underwent surgery earlier this month. He doesn't know yet whether the tumor is malignant or what other treatments he may need, but they're bound to be expensive, and it's unlikely he'll be able to return to work full-time for a while.

  • UGA Holds Memorial for Baldwin Hall Remains

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones

    Federal Judge Steve Jones, an Athens native and UGA graduate, speaks at the memorial service for dozens of people whose remains were moved from the Baldwin Hall construction site to Oconee Hill Cemetery.

    The University of Georgia held a memorial service today for 105 people whose gravesites were found during construction on a Baldwin Hall expansion project and moved to nearby Oconee Hill Cemetery.

    "From the moment the first remains were discovered in November of 2015, the university's guiding principle has been to treat these individuals with dignity and respect, and it is in that spirit that today's ceremony was developed," UGA President Jere Morehead said.

    Most of the 30 remains that could be tested were of African ancestry—presumably slaves, given that the Jackson Street or Old Athens Cemetery where they were found closed in 1956—and some members of Athens' African-American community have been critical of the way UGA has handled the situation.

  • AJC: Athenian Brian Kemp Is Running for Governor

    Blog: In the Loop

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    This may be the worst-kept secret in Georgia politics, but the AJC reported today, citing an anonymous source, that Secretary of State Brian Kemp will run for governor in 2018.

    Rumors have swirled that Kemp, who also served a term representing Athens in the state Senate, was gearing up for a run for governor almost since he was elected secretary of state back in 2006.

  • Luxury Student Apartment Developer Opts Out of Downtown Tax

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The Mark.

    Athens-Clarke County Commissioners criticized the developers of The Mark—the massive luxury student apartment complex under construction on Oconee Street—for being the only major development downtown to opt out of enlarged downtown boundaries the commission approved Tuesday.

    The area covered by the Athens Downtown Development Authority was set in 1977, but since the downtown area has greatly expanded. The ADDA is seeking to expand its boundaries north of Dougherty Street and along Prince Avenue, North Avenue and Oconee Street.

    The authority gave property owners the option of opting out of the district. Despite paying an additional one mill in property taxes ($1 per $2,500 of property value), only a handful elected not to be a part of the ADDA.

    "Unfortunately, there were a couple of folks who elected not to be part of the boundaries, a couple of them I think rationally so—very small scale residential properties, one very small scale commercial property… but there’s one large property that’s not include, The Mark,” Commissioner Kelly Girtz said. “That’s a disappointment to me, and I certainly hope folks will recognize there are benefits of being in the ADDA district down the road.”

  • Four Drive-Bys and a Shooting Death Happened Over the Weekend

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A woman's ex-husband shot and killed her boyfriend during a drunken argument on Linda Avenue Sunday night.

    Tommy Lee Morris, 53, had been drinking at a nightclub and started to argue about the woman with Tony Curtis Foster Jr., 43, according to police. Morris went to his car, got what police described as an "assault-style rifle" and shot Foster several times. He then moved closer to the victim and shot him again while standing over him, police said.

    Foster was dead when police arrived at about 10:30 p.m.

    Shortly after, police found Morris hiding in the woods near the scene. He is being held at the Clarke County Jail on a charge of aggravated assault.

    In addition, Athens-Clarke County police reported four drive-by shootings over the weekend:

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