Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Kelly Girtz Elected Mayor in a Landslide, and More Election Results

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    Kelly Girtz celebrates with his son Noah and wife Andrea Griffith-Girtz.

    With nearly twice as many votes as his nearest competitor, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz was elected the next mayor on Tuesday.

    Girtz had received 60.5 percent of 15,720 votes cast with 20 of 24 precincts reporting and the other four partially reporting. Former commissioner Harry Sims recieved 30.6 percent, and businessman Richie Knight 8.9 percent.

    Girtz called the results a continuation of the progressive wave in 2017 that swept two Democratic state representives into office in GOP districts. But Girtz also said he reached out to every part of the county during his year-long campaign and would continue to do so.

  • Get Your ACC Election Results Right Here

    Blog: In the Loop

    Sims election night.jpg

    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    Mayoral candidate Harry Sims watches election returns at JR Crickets.

    Ten of 24 precincts are now reporting, and Kelly Girtz remains in good shape in the mayor's race. He has 58 percent of 4,583 votes cast to Harry Sims' 32 percent and Richie Knight's 10 percent.

    The first results in District 1 are in, and Patrict Davenport leads incumbent Sharyn Dickerson 164 votes to 134. But they're from Winterville, which is probably a little more progressive than other parts of the eastern Clarke County district.

    In District 9, Ovita Thornton has opened up a 155-vote lead over Tommy Valentine.

    More votes in District 2 are in, and Mariah Parker's lead over Taylor Pass has shrunk percentagewise but grown in raw number of votes, from 21 to 45.

  • Where Should I Watch Tonight's Election Results?

    Blog: In the Loop

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    You could watch the election results like I do—alone, with a laptop and a fifth of bourbon—or you could be social and go out and watch them with a group of people you can celebrate and/or cry with. If you choose the latter, here are your options:

  • Bertis Downs on the State of Athens Schools

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Screenshot via Vimeo

    Best known as R.E.M.'s lawyer, Athens resident Bertis Downs has been an advocate for—and become something of an expert on—public education for many years.

    With new superintendent Demond Means shaking things up (see Karen Sweeney Gerow and Tommie Farmer's recent op-eds for two differing perspectives on Means' reforms) Downs had some thoughts he wanted to share. But he had difficulty putting them on paper, so instead he made this video and sent it to Flagpole.

    In it, Downs advocates for continuing the decentralized approach that the Clarke County School District agreed to pursue when it became a charter system. 

  • Richie Knight Releases 21-Point Plan, Loses Another Campaign Manager

    Blog: In the Loop

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    If you liked Kelly Girtz's five-point plans on affordable housing, economic development and the environment, you're gonna love this, comrade: Fellow mayoral candidate Richie Knight has released a plan with, as LeBron James might say, not five, not six, not seven, but 21 points. You can read it here.

    In other Knight news, another of his campaign managers, Cameron Jay Harrelson, has resigned. He follows on the heels of Monika Ammerman, who left last summer, and Loran Posey, who was hired to replace Ammerman, then left last fall and went to work for the Girtz campaign. (In a rather extraordinary move, Knight sued Posey for a libel over a Facebook post that was critical of Knight, a lawsuit that Knight recently dropped.)

  • Kelly Girtz Releases Environmental Plan

    Blog: In the Loop

    Girtz web.png

    Commissioner Kelly Girtz is the kind of guy who has a five-point plan for brushing his teeth in the morning, so of course he has one for the environment, too.

    Scheduled for release on Earth Day, it just went out a few days ago, and we are just now getting around to posting it. Oh, well. Here it is:

  • Harry Sims (Finally) Responds to A4E Questionnaire

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Mayoral candidate and former commissioner Harry Sims has been feuding with Athens for Everyone over the D- grade it gave him, based in part on his failure to fill out the group’s questionnaire. Well, Sims finally filled it out last week.

    In it, he gets in a couple of digs at his favorite foil—activists who speak out—as well as opponent Kelly Girtz, and explains his concerns about various policies A4E favors, such as fare-free transit and Complete Streets.

    Here are his answers:

  • Athens Democrats Announce Endorsements

    Blog: In the Loop


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    Commission District 7 candidate Russell Edwards is among the chosen ones.

    In our local nonpartisan elections, voters often want to know, who’s the real Democrat? The Athens-Clarke County Democratic Committee is here to help.

    The committee released a list of endorsements Saturday, includin Patrick Davenport in the Commission District 1 race, former county party chairman Russell Edwards in Commission District 7 (over another former chairman, Bill Overend), LaKeisha Gantt in the school board’s 7th District and Lisa Lott for Superior Court judge.

    In addition, it declared the following candidates “qualified Democrats” in other local races:

  • Today Is the Last Day to Register to Vote May 22

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Today (Tuesday, Apr. 24) is the last day to register to vote in the May 22 partisan primaries and nonpartisan local elections.

    Local races will be decided May 22 or in a July runoff and will not be on the ballot in November. They include Athens-Clarke County mayor, commission districts 1, 2, 3, 5, 7 and 9, school board districts 5 and 7 and two seats on the Superior Court bench.

    In addition, Democratic and Republican primaries for governor and other statewide offices, as well as Congress, are on the ballot locally.

    To check your voter registration status, click here. To register to vote, click here.

  • Piedmont, BCBS Reach New Contract Agreement

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Piedmont Healthcare and Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield finalized an agreement Monday for BCBS to continue covering treatment in-network at Piedmont hospitals and by Piedmont-affiliated doctors.

    The contract between the health care provider, which owns Athens Regional, and insurance company ended Apr. 1 with the two sides unable to agree on reimbursement rates. Gov. Nathan Deal urged them both back to the negotiating table, and they reached a "handshake deal" on Friday.

  • Man Posing as Uber Driver Accused of Rape

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens-Clarke County police have arrested a man they say raped two women who got into his car mistakenly believing it was an Uber.

    At about 3 a.m. Friday, Apr. 20, a woman reported to police that she had requested an Uber and got into a car she believed was her Uber, but realized halfway through the ride that it was not. She asked to be let out of the vehicle, and the driver raped her before releasing her, according to police.

    That evening, police received a report of a similar incident. A second woman reported that she had requested an Uber at about 1:15 a.m., and when she was picked up, the driver touched her private areas before she could get out. She took photos of the driver and showed them to police.

  • More Details on the Westclox Mixed-Use Development

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Studio BNA Architects

    A view of the proposed development facing east from above Newton Bridge Road. The amphitheater faces Dairy Pak Road to the south.

    The 35-acre General Time development on the long-vacant Westclox clock factory property off Newton Bridge Road would primarily serve permanent Athens residents as well as draw visitors from around the region, according to promotional materials released Monday.

    "This type of adaptive reuse model works so well in countless scenarios in metro Atlanta and around the Southeast," said Michael Dinerman, who is developing the project along with Jennifer Davidson. "We saw the old Westclox property as an opportunity to help pull together many needs of the Athens community in one strategically located district."

    Plans and renderings—available on the Athens-Clarke County website—show a brewery with a rooftop "tasting terrace," a "cycle cafe" along a stormwater detention pond and a "provisions market."

  • Brian Kemp Blasts Athens Sheriff for ICE Reversal

    Blog: In the Loop


    Brian Kemp.

    This morning, the AJC's Political Insider picked up on Flagpole's Friday report that Clarke County Sheriff's Office will no longer detain undocumented inmates past their release points to give Immigrations and Customs Enforcement time to deport them.

    The news came as a relief to many in Athens, but the Insiders wondered when Secretary of State Brian Kemp would weigh in.

    Sure enough, this tweet came soon after:

  • Sheriff Reverses Policy on ICE Detainers

    Blog: In the Loop


    The Clarke County Sheriff's Office will no longer detain undocumented immigrants for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport unless requests are accompanied by a judicial warrant, the sheriff's department announced late this afternoon.

    Sheriff Ira Edwards instituted a new policy in July, complying with ICE requests to hold undocumented inmates—many of whom had not been convicted of a crime—for up to 48 hours beyond when they would have otherwise been released so that ICE could pick them up and deport them. The policy change met with widespread criticism from activists, churches and other elected officials once it became public in December.

    In January, Edwards convened an advisory committee that could not come to a concensus on the issue and recommended that he seek legal counsel from the Athens-Clarke County attorney's office, which told him "there is case law that has identified gaps in the current system that do not allow the Sheriff's Office to hold individuals solely on a detainer from ICE," according to a news release. "As such, the Sheriff wishes to avoid the potential risk to the county of civil litigation relating to ICE detainers."

  • Big Mixed-Use Development Planned for Former Athens Clock Factory

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Matt Clayton/Google

    A "super cool" 35-acre mixed-use development including a 3,000-seat music venue is planned for the the old Westclox plant off Newton Bridge Road, the Atlanta Business Chronicle reportedThursday.

    The project's developers, UGA graduate Michael Dinerman and Jennifer Davidson, have been eyeing the property for more than two years. Dinerman, an Atlanta real estate developer, said he has seen similar adaptive reuse projects in Atlanta and noticed that Athens lacks a large music venue.

    In addition to the music venue, they want to build about 100 apartments, "maker space" for craftspeople, retail space and three or four restaurants. Terrapin Brewery has also signed a long-term lease for warehouse space at the development, according to the Business Chronicle.

  • Someone Sprayed Harry Sims' House With Paintballs

    Blog: In the Loop

    Sims mug.jpg

    We now take you live to the Athens-Clarke County mayoral forum:

    via GIPHY

    Former commissioner and current mayoral candidate Harry Sims was the victim of a drive-by paintball attack on Wednesday.

  • AADM Co-Founder Knowa Johnson Joins Sims Campaign

    Blog: In the Loop


    Knowa Johnson web.jpeg

    Knowa Johnson.

    Knowa Johnson, co-founder of the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, has joined former Athens-Clarke County commissioner Harry Sims' mayoral campaign.

    This comes as a bit of a surprise, given that Sims has been skeptical of the civil rights committee AADM has proposed creating, while fellow candidates Kelly Girtz and Richie Knight have been vocal supporters. ButJohnson could help Sims shore up his support among young people, which appears to be his weakest demographic.

    From the Sims campaign's announcement today:

  • Memorial Scheduled for Karen Tinsley

    Blog: In the Loop


    The University of Georgia has scheduled a memorial service for Karen Tinsley, the UGA faculty member who was hit and killed by a truck while riding her bike Tuesday near Bishop.

    The service will be held at 2 p.m. Monday, Apr. 9 in the Chapel on North Campus. A reception will follow at 4 p.m. in the Georgia Center's Mahler Hall. 

    Lord & Stephens West funeral home in Watkinsville has not announced funeral arrangements.

  • Driver Kills UGA Professor and Cyclist Karen Tinsley

    Blog: In the Loop

    Karen Tinsley, a faculty member in the University of Georgia's College of Family and Consumer Sciences, died Tuesday after being hit by a truck while riding her bike in Oconee County.

    An F-150 struck and killed Tinsley, an avid cyclist, on Astondale Road near Bishop Tuesday night, according to the Oconee Enterprise.

    Tinsley, 45, is a native of Augusta who moved to Athens in 2002 and earned her master's degree and doctorate from UGA. The Watkinsville resident was recently promoted to senior public service associate at FACS.

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