COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Daily Groceries Won't Move Into Larger 100 Prince Space After All

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Smith Planning Group

    Daily Groceries Co-op had plans to move into the ground-floor retail space at the 100 Prince development slated for the former St. Joseph Catholic Church property.

    Cobbham co-op Daily Groceries has abandoned plans to move into a much larger 14,000 square-foot space in the upcoming 100 Prince mixed-use development and become a full-service grocery store, its board of directors recently informed owner/members.

    According to an email sent out over the weekend:

  • Athens Rep. Jody Hice Wants to Carry a Gun Everywhere

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: screencap via YouTube

    "I said, don't touch my truck."

    If U.S. Rep. Jody Hice ever does hold a town-hall meeting in Athens, you might want to think twice about asking him any pointed questions.

    Or, you might find Hice has something of his own to point—a gun.

    On Wednesday, Hice announced that, in the wake of the shooting at the annual congressional baseball game last week, he's introduced the Congressional Personal Safety Act, which would allow congressmen to carry a firearm anywhere in the country, except the U.S. Capitol. (Some of those hearings can get a little testy, I guess.)

  • Podcast: Did Trump Violate the Constitution?

    Blog: In the Loop

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    In this week's episode, host Marc Steiner interviews Maryland Attorney General Brian Frosh, who, along with his counterpart in Washington, D.C., filed a lawsuit alleging that President Trump violated the U.S. Constitution's Emoluments Clause, which prohibits U.S. leaders from accepting gifts or benefits from foreign leaders.

    Democracy in Crisis is a weekly podcast hosted by Baynard Woods and Marc Steiner, and produced and engineered by Imani Spence for The Center for Emerging Media. Theme music is by Ruby Fulton and the Rhymes with Orchestra.

  • Check Out the Bishop Park Master Plan

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Bishop Park is one of Athens’ most popular recreational areas, but it hasn’t had a facelift in more than 40 years. “We’re surrounded by all-1974 infrastructure, and it’s bad. It needs repair,” Park Services Administrator Mel Cochran-Davis said at an open house for the Bishop Park master plan last week.

    Location-wise, not much would change in the master plan, except the basketball courts would be moved from the center of the park to the far northern edge, making way for a stormwater pond. (Water drains there naturally, so Leisure Services couldn’t find anywhere else to put it, interim director Kent Kilpatrick said.) But many existing facilities would be replaced in phases with new, better and larger ones.

    “This is our polished version—taking what’s working about Bishop Park, what people said they want, and making it better,” Cochran-Davis said.

  • Clarke School Board Member Ovita Thornton Will Run for ACC Commission

    Blog: In the Loop

    Clarke County Board of Education member Ovita Thornton will run for Athens-Clarke County Commission in District 9, she announced today.

    Thornton is serving her fourth term on the BOE representing District 9, which does not exactly correspond to Commission District 9, but covers much of the same territory in northern Clarke County. She has lived on Fowler Drive for 34 years.

    She is also executive director of the Georgia Clients Council, a nonprofit whose mission is "empowering low income people through education and training to create positive changes in their lives and in their communities."

  • UGA Announces Further Study of Baldwin Hall Remains

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    The University of Georgia will conduct further DNA analysis on the remains of former slaves found during a Baldwin Hall construction project in 2015, and try to reconstruct how the campus grew around the Old Athens Cemetery on campus.

    first round of studies by UGA anthropology professor Laurie Reitsema only examined mitochondrial DNA, which is easier to obtain but only contains information from female ancestors. In the second round, Reitsema will team up with University of Texas researchers who specialize in ancient remains to analyze nuclear DNA, which will yield information about the paternal side, and could allow Athens residents to find out if they are descended from anyone whose remains were exhumed.

  • Yes, UGA Tailgaters Can Carry Guns on Campus

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Campus-carry protesters at The Arch in May.

    University of Georgia President Jere Morehead forwarded a memo from University System of Georgia Chancellor Steve Wrigley to faculty, staff and students today laying out how the USG's Office of Legal Affairs interprets the new campus carry law. 

    The law allows concealed-carry permit holders to carry handguns on public college and university campuses, with some exceptions: athletic events, dorms, fraternity and sorority houses, faculty and staff offices, classrooms where high-school students attend class, daycares and rooms where disciplinary hearings are held.

    But the law was written in such a way that it left much ambiguity about where, exactly, on campus guns are allowed, and when. Wrigley and university system lawyers attempted to offer some clarity.

    Journalism professor Barry Hollander was kind enough to post the full email, but here are some highlights.

  • First Discrimination Complaint Filed Against Downtown Athens Bar

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A photo of 90d's, presented by lawyer Ken Dious as evidence that the bar did not post its dress code as required by law.

    A Statham African-American man is the first person to file a formal complaint under a new Athens-Clarke County law prohibiting bars from discriminating against patrons on the basis of race.

    Kendrick Bullock and his brother, Broderick Flanigan, a well-known Athens artist and political activist, went downtown the night of Apr. 1 to watch a basketball game. Afterward, they decided to go to 90d's, a Clayton Street bar.

    According to Flanigan, the rest of the group entered the bar but discovered Bullock was not with them. Flanigan went back outside, and found that doormen had denied Bullock entry on the grounds that his saggy pants violated the 90d's dress code.

    As Flanigan points out in a video posted on the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement website, the dress code was not posted outside as required by law. They also disputed whether Bullock's pants were actually sagging.

  • RIP Ed Turner, Athens' First Black City Councilman

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: courtesy of Eric Turner

    Edward L. Turner, an Athens civil rights pioneer who was the first African American elected to the Athens City Council (before city-county unification) in 1970, died Tuesday at the age of 73.

    Athens Anti-Discrimation Movement leader Mokah Jasmine Johnson passed along this obituary from Turner's wife, Deborah, and lawyer Ken Dious.

  • Commission Temporarily Bans Demolitions in Two Athens Neighborhoods

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The possibility that the house at 398 Milledge Circle would be demolished galvanized neighbors to seek a historic district.

    During a contentious four-hour called meeting Tuesday night, the Athens-Clarke County Commission approved moratoriums on demolitions and some construction on Milledge Circle and Castalia Avenue in Five Points and in the West Hancock neighborhood.

    Both moratoriums apply demolitions and changes to facades and rooflines for one year while neighborhood residents, county planners and commissioners study ways to protect those neighborhoods' historic character. But they allow interior renovations and add-ons to the backs of homes, in an effort to appease opponents who are planning improvement projects.

    On Milledge Circle, residents are fighting to stop homebuyers from tearing down historic residences to build larger suburban-style houses—which they said has happened three times already and could happen again at 398 Milledge Circle.

    "You come to realize Athens has been at the center of a demolition derby, so to speak," Milledge Circle resident and historic preservation professor John Waters said. "You don't know what to expect next door to your property, or what it's going to do to your quality of life."

  • Will Georgia's Campus Carry Law Let UGA Tailgaters Pack Heat?

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Randy Schafer/file

    The campus carry bill Gov. Nathan Deal signed last month explicitly bans guns at Sanford Stadium while allowing them on many other parts of the UGA campus. But officials are still grappling with at least one gray area—what the poorly worded law means for tailgaters.

    The Macon Telegraph reports:

    One scenario has raised an interesting question for Georgia: Given the fact that up to 100,000 fans, if not more, partake in tailgating festivities many hours before kickoff, how will the law be interpreted on its campus for a Saturday football game?

  • Commission Will Vote Tuesday on Demolition Bans

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Varsity's owners plan to demolish this 160-year-old Queen Anne house at 853 Reese Street that was once owned by slaves-turned-dentists James and Charlotte Mack and renowned educator Annie Burney.

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission will vote Tuesday on whether to temporarily ban demolitions and new construction on Milledge Circle and in the Hancock Corridor while protections are being considered for those historic neighborhoods.

    Milledge Circle homeowners have been spurred on by the imminent destruction of 398 Milledge Circle, continuing a recent trend of home-buyers snapping up historic properties only to demolish the houses to make way for much larger structures. A majority petitioned the commission for a historic district earlier this month.

    Across town, the Gordy family, which owns The Varsity, applied for permits to demolish seven structures on the same block as the fast-food landmark, including several historic houses.  The neighborhood along Hanock Avenue west of Milledge—listed on the National Register of Historic Places—is under threat because it's zoned multifamily, which is likely to entice developers looking to tear down older residences for denser and more expensive housing, according to a recent study of the West Broad area. Some residents have called for the neighborhood to be rezoned for small single-family lots.

  • ACC Police Are Hosting Two Town Hall Meetings

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott Freeman is hosting two town halls this week to seek feedback from citizens.

    The first is today is Gaines Elementary School. The second is Thursday at Chase Street Elementary. Both are from 6:30–8 p.m.

    For more information, contact Capt. Mark Sizemore at 706-613-3888 ext. 248 or mark.sizemore@athensclarkecounty.com.

  • New CCSD Superintendent Demond Means Will Make $209,000 a Year

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    The Clarke County Board of Education has agreed to a three-year contract with new superintendent Demond Means that will pay him at least $209,000 annually, plus other benefits.

    In addition to his base salary and the typical retirement and insurance benefits, Means will receive a $700 car allowance in lieu of mileage, and the district will pay $3,000 per year into a tax-deferred retirement plan. 

    The school board can fire Means for cause or buy out the remainder of his contract. If Means resigns before the contract ends, he will owe the district $5,000.

    CCSD will also cover Means' relocation expenses up to $10,000, as well as reimburse him up to $5,000 for his travel to and from Milwaukee between now and July 10, when the contract kicks in, and for "professional growth" such as college classes and conferences.

  • Gov. Deal Signs Craft Brewery Bill and More Beer News

    Blog: Grub Notes

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    Beer lovers will soon be able to buy up to a case of beer a day from their favorite brewery after Gov. Nathan Deal signed a law this morning loosening restrictions on breweries, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • Deal Signs Campus Carry; Hice Helps Pass Trumpcare

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Campus carry protesters at the Arch.

    In spite of ongoing opposition in Athens, Gov. Nathan Deal has signed HB 280, this year's version of the "campus carry" legislation he vetoed last year.

    Deal's veto statement last year included a full-throated defense of gun-free campuses, citing founding fathers Thomas Jefferson and James Monroe, who banned guns at the University of Virginia, and the late conservative Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, who ruled in District of Columbia vs. Heller that banning guns in schools and on government property is not unconstitutional.

    Deal also cited several specific objections in 2016, and addressing those apparently was enough to convince him to sign HB 280 in spite of his general objections to HB 859.

  • The Varsity Files for Demolition Permits for Surrounding Properties

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Athens-Clarke County Planning Department

    853 Reese Street.

    The owners of The Varsity have applied for permits to demolish a half-dozen structures on the same block, potentially allowing them to raze several historic houses to make way for a mega-development.

    The permits are for 1076, 1086 and 1092 West Broad (the Dairy Queen that closed last year, a mechanic's shop and a house) and 835, 853 and 863 Reese Street.

    The applications were filed Tuesday. Commissioner Melissa Link, who represents the area, said she has already exercised her power under county law to put a hold on those permits for 90 days.

    "I have activated the 90-day delay, and I have every intention of seeking a long-term moratorium," she said.

  • May Day March to End Deportation Draws 150

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele

    At least 150 people gathered in downtown on Monday—May Day, or International Workers' Day—to protest the deportation of undocumented immigrants in Athens.

    "In our community there have been many cases of deportation," said Beto Mendoza, coordinator of the Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, which organized the rally. In many cases Immigration and Customs Enforcement has split up local families by arrested and deporting parents, while the children, who are U.S. citizens, stay behind, he said.

  • 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.

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