In the Loop

  • New Downtown Athens Hotel 'Tops Out'

    CD Hyatt Angela Smith 12_21 web.JPG

    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Hyatt Place general manager Angela Smith gives a tour of the still-under-construction Hyatt Place.

    Don't book your room just yet, but the new hotel next door to the Classic Center reached a milestone today, as local tourism officials and event organizers from across the Southeast gathered to celebrate the Hyatt Place's "topping out."

    The nine-story, 200-room hotel's structural elements are now in place, although it won't officially open until late May or June.

    Hyatt Place guests will spend $13.5 million per year, creating a $20 million economic impact, according to Mayor Nancy Denson. Seven hundred people are employed in its constrution, and the hotel will employ 75 people permanently, Denson said.

    Along with other downtown hotel projects—a SpringHill Suites next door to the Holiday Inn and a Homewood Suites at The Mark, a student-housing development under construction on Oconee Street—the Hyatt Place will bring the number of hotel rooms downtown to 1,360, with another 385 rooms under construction in other parts of the city, according to Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau Executive Director Chuck Jones.


  • Sunday Booze Is Now Legal in Oconee County


    ^Everyone in Oconee County this morning.

    Restaurants, groceries and convenience stores in Oconee County currently selling beer, wine and alcoholic drinks are free to do so on Sunday.

    The Oconee County Board of Commissioners changed the county’s alcoholic beverage ordinance on Tuesday night by adding hours for sales on Sundays, but did not require license holders to get new licenses.

    So all the existing license holders needed to do on Sunday was ring up the sales when customers brought the beer and wine to the cash registers or fill the drink orders when customers made them.


  • What Would You Fund With a Local Transportation Tax?


    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Athens-Clarke County will host a public forum Wednesday from 7–8 p.m. at the ACC Library for people with questions or comments about an upcoming sales-tax referendum for transportation.

    The Transportation Special Local Option Sales Tax (T-SPLOST) will be on the Nov. 7, 2017 ballot. If approved, it will raise an estimated $104 million over five years to spend on roads, bridges, sidewalks, bike lanes and paths and public transit.


  • Horton Wins Oconee Commission Seat

    Former commissioner Chuck Horton defeated Marcus Wiedower by a 520-vote margin Tuesday night in the special election runoff for the open Post 2 seat on the Oconee County Board of Commissioners.

    Horton carried seven of the county’s 13 precincts, including the two largest, to get 56.8 percent of the vote overall.

    A total of 3,845 voters cast a ballot, representing 15.6 percent of the county’s 24,657 registered voters.

    In other county action tonight, the Board of Commissioners postponed a decision on a requested rezone in the western part of the county for a solar farm.

    The board also approved a change in the county’s alcohol ordinances to allow for Sunday sale of beer and wine in groceries and convenience stores and beer, wine and alcoholic drinks in restaurants. The ordinance goes into effect immediately.

    For more, visit Oconee County Observations.


  • Commissioners Propose Compromise on Radio Fences


    Two Athens-Clarke County commissioners have filed a potential compromise on a proposed law allowing local pet owners to confine their animals using radio or wireless fences.

    Radio fences—which send a small shock to a dog's collar when it crosses an invisible boundary—weren't considered fences under ACC's animal control ordinance until a recent court ruling said that they are. The ordinance requires dogs to be kept under the owner's control at all times—on a leash or inside a structure or fenced area.

    The ruling led to some complaints that dogs were breaking out of the invisible fenced areas and roaming free in neighborhoods.


  • Tornado Watch Issued for Clarke County



    Photo Credit: Justin Hobson

    A tornado in Manitoba, Canada in 2007.

    The National Weather Service has issued a tornado warning for Clarke County until 3:15 p.m. and a tornado watch until 6 p.m.

    A tornado was seen near Winder at 2:42 p.m., prompting the NWS to issue the warning for Clarke, Barrow and Jackson counties as a storm system moves in from Atlanta.

    The NWS urged everyone in that area to take cover by moving to the basement or an interior first-floor room, or taking shelter if outdoors.

    In addition to Clarke, the tornado watch—meaning a tornado is possible but hasn’t been spotted—also covers Jasper, Hall, Morgan, Banks, Jackson, Madison and Oconee counties.

    Showers and thunderstorms are likely until 10 p.m.


  • ADDA Director Pamela Thompson Is Leaving


    Photo Credit: Blake Aued/file

    Pamela Thompson is resigning effective Dec. 29 after more than three years as executive director of the Athens Downtown Development Association.

    Thompson informed ADDA board chairman Chris Blackmon of her resignation in a letter on Monday.


  • Clarke School Board Names UGA Dean Interim Superintendent

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    The Clarke County Board of Education named former University of Georgia professor and administrator Jack Parish as interim superintendent today to replace Philip Lanoue while the board searches for a permanent replacement.

    Parish recently retired as associate dean for outreach and education at the UGA College of Education. He served as superintendent of the Henry County school system from 2000–2008—where he was president of the Georgia School Superintendents Association and was a finalist for state superintendent of the year—and has experience as a teacher and principal as well. He assisted CCSD with several projects while at UGA.


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