Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Discrepancies in Voter Info Will Be Corrected, Election Supervisor Says

    Blog: In the Loop

    georgia voter.jpg

    An astute reader noted the other day that her voting location listed on the secretary of state's website did not match up with the one listed on the Athens-Clarke County Board of Election's interactive precinct map.

    Given Secretary of State Brian Kemp's well-documented voter suppression efforts and lack of security in the system, this was cause for concern.

    Further investigation found at least two other discrepancies between the Board of Election's map and its list of polling places.

    Charlotte Sosebee, director of the Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections, told Flagpole that the map has taken a long time to update, and those discrepancies will be resolved by the middle of next week. In the meantime, here is the correct information:

  • Athens Economic Development Director Leaves

    Blog: In the Loop


    Ryan Moore.

    Athens-Clarke County's first and only director of economic development is leaving for a job in Brunswick effective Sept. 1.

    Ryan Moore was hired to helm the newly created department in 2013, when it replaced the independent Economic Development Foundation.

    The Savannah native was named sole finalist for president of the Glynn County Development Authority in June, according to The Brunswick News

    Michelle Nguyen will be the department's interim director while a national search is conducted, according to ACC Manager Blaine Williams.

  • ACCPD: Officer Who Restrained Boy Was Justified

    Blog: In the Loop

    An Athens-Clarke County police officer who restrained a distraught 10-year-old boy was justified in his use of force, according to internal affairs documents Flagpole obtained through an open records request.

    An investigation by Lt. Richard Odum, head of the Office of Professional Standards, found that "no policy violations occured and the force used was reasonable."

    The investigation started after the boy's cousin posted a video to Facebook of officers holding down the boy. The video went viral, and many viewers complained that the officers were being too rough.

    The officers went to the Sartain Drive home on July 20 to look into an allegation that a man there had choked his ex-girlfriend. They arrested the man, which led to his son becoming extremely upset. 

  • Cowsert on Short List for Georgia Supreme Court Vacancy

    Blog: In the Loop

    Bill Cowsert web.jpg

    State Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) is one of eight contenders for two open seats on the state Supreme Court, according to the AJC.

    The Judicial Nominating Committee—made up of six trial lawyers, two state legislators and a representative from the state attorney general's office—recommended nine names to Gov. Nathan Deal to fill vacancies left when Britt Grant was named a federal appeals court judge and Harris Hines retired.

    Among them were Cowsert and Jason Deal, Nathan Deal's son, who is a superior court judge in Hall and Dawson counties. But Jason Deal took his name out of the running so his father wouldn't have to decide whether to appoint him.

  • Athens Native Kemp Wins GOP Nomination for Governor in Landslide

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    Brian Kemp gives his victory speech at the downtown Athens Holiday Inn after winning the Republican nomination for governor Tuesday.

    Secretary of State Brian Kemp completed a stunning comeback Tuesday to win the Republican nomination for governor in a runoff against Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

    Although Cagle began the race as the heavy favorite because of his three successful statewide races and a big fundraising advantage, Kemp parlayed a secret recording that damaged Cagle, an endorsement from President Donald Trump and a rally Saturday with Vice President Mike Pence into what Kemp called a "clear and convincing victory."

    In a race that revolved around big trucks, shotguns, chainsaws and who could take a more over-the-top stance against illegal immigration, that may have been the only understatement. Kemp trailed Cagle 39-26 in a five-man primary May 22, but won 69 percent of the vote to Cagle's 31 percent tonight, with 92 percent of precincts reporting. Kemp won 83 percent of the vote in Clarke County.

  • National EMS Sold to Knoxville Ambulance Company

    Blog: In the Loop



    Photo Credit: Priority Ambulance

    National EMS—the company local hospitals contract with to provide ambulance service in Clarke and Oconee counties—has been sold to Knoxville, TN-based Priority Ambulance, the companies announced last week.

    Priority is much larger than Conyers-based National, with 2,600 employees, and consolidation is the name of the game in health care as all the players seek greater resources and leverage. Insurance companies keep merging. Smaller hospital chains seek refuge with bigger ones.

    The sale comes at a time, though, when National EMS is under fire for what former EMTs and the activist group Athens for Everyone say are unacceptably slow response times. They’ve called for an independent audit and for National EMS to release its raw data. St. Mary’s and Piedmont Athens Regional, though, recently released a joint statement expressing satisfaction with National EMS.

  • ACC Police Restrain 'Distraught' Boy After Dad Arrested

    Blog: In the Loop

    Two Athens-Clarke County police officers are under investigation after they restrained a young boy on the ground who was upset that his father had been arrested on domestic violence charges.

    Police went to a Sartain Drive home at about 6:30 p.m. Friday to arrest a man after his ex-girlfriend complained that he had choked her when she tried to leave his house earlier that day.

    While the father was being arrested, a boy police identified as his son became what ACCPD spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez described as "extremely emotionally distraught."

    On Sunday, a woman who said she is the boy's cousin posted a video on Facebook of two officers holding the boy—described as 10 by police and 7 or 9 by relatives—on the ground with his hands behind his back. The video quickly went viral, with 32,000 shares and nearly 1 million views as of tonight.

  • Trump Endorses Kemp for Georgia Governor

    Blog: In the Loop


    Brian Kemp.

    I guess we can declare a winner in the War of Who's Trumpiest.

    The orange one himself, President Donald Trump, weighed in on the Republican primary runoff for Georgia governor this afternoon, using his preferred mode of communication to express his preference for Secretary of State Brian Kemp over Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle.

  • Deal Endorses Cagle for Governor in GOP Runoff

    Blog: In the Loop

    Casey Cagle web.jpg

    Gov. Nathan Deal endorsed Lt. Gov. Casey Cagle in the Republican runoff for governor today over Secretary of State Brian Kemp.

    The endorsement could help stop Kemp's momentum in the weeks leading up to the July 24 runoff. Cagle finished first out of five candidates with 39 percent of the vote on May 22, with Kemp trailing at 26 percent. Since then, though, Kemp has surged. A recent Atlanta Journal-Constitution poll gave Kemp a slight lead, 44 percent to 41 percent.

    As his second term winds down, Deal remains popular, with an 85 percent approval rating among Republican voters—even higher than President Donald Trump.

    The endorsement comes as little surprise, given that Deal and Cagle are both from Gainesville and have worked closely together over the past eight years to pass Deal's agenda in the state Senate.

  • Rep. Jonathan Wallace Announces Office Hours

    Blog: In the Loop

    Wallace swearing in.jpg

    Photo Credit: House Photo Office

    State Rep. Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville).

    Have a concern or question about state politics? Rep. Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville) is ready to talk to you about it. And the best part is, you can have a beer while you meet with him, or alternatively, you don't even have to put pants on.

    Wallace—who represents parts of Clarke and Oconee counties—recently announced a schedule of summer "office hours" that don't take place in an office.

  • Tickets Available Saturday for Limited Edition Creature Comforts Saison

    Blog: Grub Notes


    Photo Credit: courtesy of Creature Comforts

    The Arcadiana label was designed by Creature Comforts staffer Melissa Merrill.

    It won't be available for another two weeks, but you can go ahead and get your ticket tomorrow for the release of Creature Comfort's latest limited-edition cellar beer.

    Arcadiania is a saison that was originally released in 2015, but this time, it has a twist: The latest verson was aged in wine barrels from Yonah Mountain Vineyards, located in Cleveland, about an hour and a half up Highway 129 from Athens. Combined with American hops and Creature Comfort's house yeast culture, the barrel aging imparts citrus and berry notes to the tart saison. 

    $60 tickets to the July 21 release party can be bought here and come with 36 ounces of draft samples, food pairings, stemware, two 750-milliliter bottles of Arcadiana and the opportunity to purchase more.

  • Nine Athens Transit Bus Routes Have Changed

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Changes to nine Athens Transit routes—5, 7, 9, 12, 14, 22, 25, 26 and 27—took effect on Sunday.

    The changes mainly affect service to the Eastside, the Westside and the University of Georgia campus. Buses that run along Sanford Drive have been rerouted during construction, service has been added to Whitehead Road, and several Eastside bus routes have been revamped to create a circulator between Walmart and campus:

  • New Law: Put Down Your Phone While Driving

    Blog: In the Loop


    Georgia’s new “hands-free law” took effect July 1. No, that doesn’t mean it’s legal to drive with your knees while you eat a cheeseburger and watch YouTube. In fact, it’s the opposite: The law cracks down on distracted driving by making it illegal to use your cellphone while driving. That means not only texting—which was already illegal but difficult to enforce—but making or answering phone calls, browsing the internet, using social media or watching or recording videos as well.

    The law prohibits drivers from having a phone or other electronic device in their hand or supported by any part of their body while driving—including at stop signs and traffic lights. Calls can still be made by speakerphone, earpiece, wireless headset or smart watch, or by connecting your phone to the car and dialing by voice. Voice-to-text remains legal as well, as does using a continually recording dash-mounted camera.

  • Hundreds Rally to Reunite Immigrant Families

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    Athens joined dozens of cities around the country in holding a "Families Belong Together" rally Saturday morning to urge the Trump Administration to reunite families separated at the border.

    More than 2,000 children were separated from their parents in June as the Trump Administration instituted a "zero tolerance" immigration policy.  Trump has since ordered families to be detained together, but many of the families initially separated are still apart. 

    Several hundred people participated in the Athens rally, which included a wire crate lined with dolls to represent children kept in cages at federal facilities. 

  • Athens Chamber of Commerce Names New CEO

    Blog: In the Loop

    David Bradley.jpg

    Photo Credit: Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce

    David Bradley.

    The Athens Area Chamber of Commerce has named a North Carolina chamber executive as its new CEO.

    David Bradley is currently president of the Greater Statesville Chamber of Commerce in suburban Charlotte. The Guillford College graduate has also worked in manufacturing and served as president of the chamber in Mount Airy, NC. In Statesville, he served on the downtown development, regional development, and convention and visitors' bureau boards, led the effort to create a strategic plan for Statesville and was involved in theater and fim.

  • GOP Leader Leaves Gaines Campaign After Anti-LGBT Posts

    Blog: In the Loop

    houston gaines web new.jpeg

    Houston Gaines.

    A prominent Athens Republican has stepped down from state House candidate Houston Gaines' campaign after an Atlanta magazine reported that she posted several anti-LGBTQ comments on Facebook Tuesday, the second anniversary of the mass shooting at a gay nightclub in Orlando.

    According to Project Q, Joan Rhoden shared a photo on Facebook of pride-themed clothing at Target and accused "homosexuals" of spreading propaganda. She also characterized homosexuality as a disease and an "alternative lifestyle," criticized a New York bill that would add a third gender option to birth certificates and a cartoon featuring drag queens, defended Chick-Fil-A (a company that has taken anti-LGBTQ stances) and said that LGBTQ people's aim is "to annihilate free speech and dismantle the established facts of biology.”

  • Anti-Discrimination Movement Issues Statement Supporting ACCPD Chief Freeman for Firing Officer

    Blog: In the Loop

    Screen Shot 2018-06-05 at 2.15.22 PM.png

    A screenshot from body-camera footage shows police handcuffing Timmy Patmon after an officer hit him with his car while Patmon was running from police.

    The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement has issued a statement in support of Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott Freeman for firing an officer who hit suspect Timmy Patmon with his police car Friday.

  • ACCPD Officer Fired for Hitting Suspect With His Car

    Blog: In the Loop

    Screen Shot 2018-06-03 at 7.47.34 PM.png

    Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Scott Freeman fired an officer Sunday who, according to witnesses and video footage, hit a fleeing suspect with his car on Friday.

    An initial news release from ACCPD said that officers Taylor Saulters and Hunter Blackmon were patroling the area of Vine Street and Nellie B Avenue Friday evening when Blackmon spotted Timmy Patmon, whom Blackmon believed had a felony warrant out for his arrest.

    When the officers made contact with Patmon, he ran. Blackmon chased him on foot while Saulters pursued him in his police car.

  • Mayor Denson: Elections Were a 'U-Turn' for Athens

    Blog: In the Loop


    FON debate.jpg

    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Tim Bryant moderates a debate between Mayor Nancy Denson and challenger Tim Denson in 2014.

    Athens-Clarke County Mayor Nancy Denson called last week’s local elections—in which progressives backed by Athens for Everyone swept the mayor’s race and all six commission races—a “U-turn” in an interview with WGAU 1340 AM this morning.

    Host Tim Bryant suggested that the results were “a left turn.” Denson responded, “It wasn’t just a left turn; it was a U-turn.”

    Both Bryant and Denson chalked the results up to enthusiasm on the progressive side, while, as Athens GOP chairman Gordon Rhoden said in a recent mass email, conservatives stayed home.

    “When you have that kind of passion from small, very vocal groups, and they organize, we saw what they did… I have to give them credit, they did an amazing job of taking over this election,” Denson said.

    The state legislature’s decision to move nonpartisan elections like Athens’ from November to May also played a role, Denson said.

  • Tritonia Is Out Now and More Local Beer News

    Blog: Grub Notes


    One of Creature Comforts' most popular seasonal beers, Tritonia, is on shelves and taps this week.

    Tritonia (4.5% ABV) is a sour gose-style beer flavored with cucumber, lime, salt and coriander. It's been hard to come by in years past, but thanks to the opening of Creature Comforts' second brewery in the Southern Mill development off Oneta Street, the company has upped production this year.

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