Blog Topic: Breaking News

  • In the Loop: Video: Campus Carry Protest in Athens


    campus carry protest 3_21 web.jpeg

    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones

    UGA student Sage Hooten (left) and other protesters rally at the University of Georgia Arch in opposition to HB 280 on Mar. 21.

    It's that time of year again: Pollen is filling our noses, spring is in the air, and the Georgia legislature is trying to pass another campus carry bill.

    A group of over 200 students and other protesters gathered in front of the UGA Arch Tuesday afternoon, chanting, “Hey hey, ho ho, campus carry has got to go,” and holding signs.

    Speakers included professors, students and survivors of the Virginia Tech massacre in 2007.

    “The majority of UGA feels that this bill will make our campus less safe,” said student Mallory Harris, who organized the protest.


  • In the Loop: UGA Holds Memorial for Baldwin Hall Remains

    steve jones baldwin reinterrment 3_20.jpg

    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.


  • In the Loop: Luxury Student Apartment Developer Opts Out of Downtown Tax



    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.”


  • In the Loop: Rep. Jody Hice Speaks to Rotarians, but No Plans for a Town Hall

    Hice Rotary Club 3:8.jpg

    Photo Credit: Rebecca McCarthy

    Rep. Jody Hice (R-Monroe) at the downtown Holiday Inn for a private luncheon Monday.

    Republican U.S. Representative Jody Hice was in Athens on Monday. Unless you were eating fried chicken, vegetables and salad in the Holiday Inn with the genial Classic City Rotary Club, you probably didn’t see him. And you’re not going to—at least not in a town hall meeting.

    Open to the public, a town hall meeting is what many congressmen traditionally hold in their districts during a recess in Washington to find out the concerns of their many constituents. Hice may have a “coffee with the congressman” in other parts of the district with a small number of invited guests, or he may meet with Athens Republicans, but that’s about it in Athens-Clarke County.

    Rotary club meetings are open only to members and guests of members. Outside the Holiday Inn and at the Arch on Monday, a few people gathered to protest Hice’s reluctance to hold a town meeting in Athens. The signs read, “Am I scary?” and “Be brave host Athens town hall” and “Where is Jody Hice.” With Donald Trump receiving 28 percent of the vote in our community, a public reception for a Republican representative would likely yield more questions that what Hice fielded from the Rotary Club.

    There were a few questions at the Monday meeting—one member asked about Do Not Call and another asked about Fair Tax. Hice said he’s working on tax reform, which includes cutting corporate taxes, reducing tax forms to the size of a postage stamp and making the IRS a service-oriented agency. He said there’s no constitutional authority for the Environmental Protection Agency and the federal Department of Education to exist, and he wants the country to return to a “constitutional form of government.” He also said “some of these agencies have budgets the size of small countries’.”


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

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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:


  • In the Loop: Black Leaders Criticize UGA Over Slave Graves at Baldwin Hall


    Photo Credit: Maxim DaPlug

    Clarke County NAACP President Alvin Sheats (center) and Fred Smith, founder of the Athens Black History Bowl (right) are among those criticizing UGA's treatment of black remains found during construction at Baldwin Hall

    A group of Athens African Americans is calling on the University of Georgia to reconsider its decision to reinter dozens of slave remains at Oconee Hill Cemetery.

    "We are very upset by all of this," said Fred Smith, head of the Athens Black History Bowl, before the group's annual celebration Saturday at the Morton Theatre. "This is disrespectful to us as black folks."

    The university discovered 27 gravesites while working on an addition to Baldwin Hall, which was built on top of Old Athens Cemetery, also known as Jackson Street Cemetery. UGA officials said in 2015 that they thought all of the remains had been removed during Baldwin's initial construction in 1938.

    UGA initially thought the remains were white, but DNA analysis conducted by UGA anthropology professor Laurie Reitsema recently revealed that the vast majority were black. 


  • In the Loop: Campus Carry Bill Passes House Committee


    Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton).

    A bill that would allow people with concealed-carry permits to bring weapons onto the University of Georgia and other public college campuses cleared a key hurdle Monday.

    The House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee passed House Bill 280, sponsored by Rep. Mandi Ballinger (R-Canton), according to the AJC, sending it on for a likely but yet-to-be-scheduled vote before the full House.


  • In the Loop: Richie Knight Is the First Candidate in the 2018 Athens Mayor's Race

    Richie Knight.JPG

    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Knight announces his candidacy on the steps of City Hall Monday afternoon.

    The presidential race feels like it's barely over, and local elections are still 15 months away, but campaign season officially arrived again when young businessman Richie Knight declared his candidacy for Athens-Clarke County mayor today, joined by a few dozen supporters at City Hall.

    Knight said he wants to "see a new generation take over the helm... We've been stuck in a rut the past 20-30 years."

    His top priority, he said, is economic development—high-paying jobs to alleviate the city's 30-plus percent poverty rate. He said he would focus on recruiting businesses that will pay a living wage, although he hasn't settled on a figure of what a living wage should be. (It's $10.17 an hour in Athens, according to MIT.)

    "We need to have real conversations with employers, not just about coming here, but about what it means to be part of the community, whom they should be hiring, wage amounts," he said.


  • Homedrone: Kindercore Records to Open Vinyl Pressing Plant in Athens


    The rumor has swirled around town for months, and now it appears that it's true: Kindercore Records plans to open a vinyl record-pressing facility in Athens later this year. 


  • In the Loop: The Proposed Mixed-Use Development Across From Athens Regional Is Dead


    Photo Credit: Smith Planning Group

    What could have been.

    A mixed-use development on Prince Avenue that actually excited the neighborhood will no longer be happening.

    Piedmont Athens Regional spokesman Mike Pilcher confirmed an Athens Banner-Herald report last night that the developers behind the project—Bryan Austin, John Stamm and Trey Wallace—have abandoned it. The project was slated for six acres next to the "flying saucer" Rite-Aid that are owned by the hospital and are currently used as a parking lot.

    "The developer was unable to find an anchor tenant," Pilcher said.


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