COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Chelsea Clinton Is Coming to Athens Wednesday

    Blog: Culture Briefs

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    Former First Daughter Chelsea Clinton will be in Athens on Wednesday to sign copies of her fifth children's book, Don't Let Them Disappear, about endangered species.

    Clinton is scheduled to visit Avid Bookshop's Prince Avenue location at 7 p.m. There will not be a talk or a reading; she is only signing books.

    Tickets are required. They'll run you $21.60, but include a copy of Don't Let Them Disappear and will admit up to four family members. Tickets are available on the Avid website until noon Wednesday; after that, call Avid at 706-352-2060.

  • Police Charge Suspect With Shooting UGA Student

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Police arrested a suspect early Tuesday morning and charged him with robbing one UGA student on Monday and shooting another during a second robbery minutes later.

    Zarren Garner, 20, was arrested in Gwinnett County at about 1:40 a.m. by Athens-Clarke County police, with assistance from Gwinnett County police and the Georgia Bureau of Investigation and FBI. He was booked into the Clarke County Jail at 3:39 a.m. and charged with two counts of armed robbery and two counts of aggravated assault. He is currently being held without bond. More charges may be added, said Special Agent Mike Ayers, head of the GBI's Athens bureau.

  • Athens Police Seek Man Who Shot and Robbed UGA Students

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    From left, GBI special agent Mike Ayers, Police Chief Cleveland Spruill, Capt. Jerry Saulters and deputy chiefs Jeff Clark and Mike Hunsinger.

    Athens-Clarke County police are looking for the man who robbed one UGA student and shot another this morning at a South Milledge Avenue apartment complex.

    Police received a call regarding a shooting on South Milledge shortly after 7 a.m. and found a 22-year-old man who had been shot multiple times at a bus stop on Milledge just south of the Loop. An ambulance took him to a local hospital, where he's suffering from life-threating injuries.

    At around the same time, police received another call about an armed robbery that had happened in the Milledge Place apartment complex's parking lot a few minutes prior to the shooting.

  • Athens Police Officer Kills Peeping Tom Suspect

    Blog: In the Loop

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    An Athens-Clarke County police officer shot and killed a "peeping Tom" suspect Saturday on Hull Road.

    Police responded to a call about the peeping Tom at about 11:40 p.m. The victim identified a suspect, and officers went to his residence on the 1200 block of Hull Road. 

    The suspect brandished a shotgun, and one of the officers, fearing for his life, shot the suspect, according to an ACCPD news release. They rendered first aid until an ambulance arrived and transported him to a local hospital, where he was pronounced dead.

  • Athens Police Identify Body Found in River

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens-Clarke County police have identified the body found in the Middle Oconee River last Saturday as belonging to Emory Odell Findley, a 54-year-old Athens resident.

    Police said that Findley had been reported missing on Mar. 29.

    Kayakers spotted the body near St. George Drive, off Timothy Road, around 1 p.m. Apr. 13. Police removed it from the river, and it was taken to the state crime lab in Atlanta for autopsy.

    Police do not suspect foul play, but are still investigating the circumstances of Findley's death. They urged anyone with information to contact Det. Paul Johnson at 706-613-3330, ext. 522, or paul.johnson@accgov.com.

  • Clarke Middle Principal Tad MacMillan Is Retiring

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Clarke Middle School principal Tad MacMillan announced Friday that he's retiring at the end of the school year, creating another leadership vacancy in Clarke County public schools.

    MacMillan told parents in an email:

  • Body Found in Middle Oconee River

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Local and state authorities are investigating the death of an individual whose body was found today in the Middle Oconee River.

    The body was discovered near St. George Drive, a residential street off Timothy Road, according to Athens-Clarke County Police Department spokesman Geoffrey Gilland.

    The ACC coroner's office is transporting the body to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation's crime lab in Atlanta, Gilland said Saturday afternoon.

    No further details were available, he said. The person's identity has not been released, and Gilland said it's too early to tell whether foul play was involved. More information may be available as soon as Sunday, he said.

  • CCSD Announces Staff Shakeup

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Clarke County School District has leadership vacancies at six schools to fill after moving several principals to the central office.

    The district announced the moves late Friday, a day after the Board of Education met in closed session to discuss personnel.

    According to Director of Public Relations and Communications Mary Walsh Wickwire:

  • Happy Birthday to Terrapin and Creature Comforts!

    Blog: Grub Notes

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    In addition to the Classic City Brew Fest this Sunday, two local breweries are celebrating their birthdays in April.

    Terrapin celebrates its 17th anniversary with a carnival from 4:30–8:30 p.m. Saturday, Apr. 6 at the Newton Bridge Road brewery. In addition to year-round brews, the carnival features cask ales, barrel-aged beers, beers from Terrapin’s ATL Brew Lab at SunTrust Park and other special brews, along with entertainment from the Balkun Brothers band, local vendors, food trucks and games. Tickets, available at terrapinbeer.com, are $26 and include beer samples, a brewery tour and a souvenir glass. Proceeds will benefit Nuçi’s Space, a mental health and resource center for musicians.

  • What Should ACC Do About the Murmur Trestle?

    Blog: In the Loop

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    With the construction of Firefly Trail finally underway after nearly 20 years, Athens-Clarke County finally has to make a decision about what to do with the Murmur trestle.

    In 2000, CSX started to remove rails and demolish trestles along an abandoned rail line running from Winterville to downtown Athens. One of those trestles, near Poplar Street, was featured on the back cover of R.E.M.’s album Murmur. Fans rallied, and ACC purchased the trestle and halted the demolition, but not before it was halfway gone.

    As many cities have done with unused railroads—see New York’s High Line or the Silver Comet Trail west of Atlanta—ACC decided to convert the flat, level rail bed into a walking and biking trail. Sales tax collections, planning and federal approval took over a decade. The first leg of the trail, between East Broad Street and Dudley Park, opened last year. Initially, there was not enough money for a new bridge over Trail Creek, but that’s changed since voters approved a 1 percent sales tax for transportation in 2017.

  • Some Genius on Reddit Thinks R.E.M. Cursed the Bulldogs

    Blog: Culture Briefs

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    Photo Credit: Robert De Martino/Wikimedia Commons

    What's the frequency, Kirby?

    Reddit is well known as a sordid hive of flat-earthers and Pizzagate fanatics, but user JohnnyStringbean may have come up with one of the better online conspiracy theories of all time.

  • Black UGA Students Say They're Frustrated With Racism on Campus

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    More than 200 University of Georgia students gathered at the Miller Learning Center Monday night to talk about a racist video that went viral over the weekend.

    Black students who spoke at the "In Solidarity" event, organized by the Student Government Association and UGA chapter of the NAACP, said they were hurt but not surprised by the Snapchat video, which showed a white UGA fraternity member whipping another white student with a belt, telling him to "pick my cotton," and using a racial slur. They also criticized the university administration's response to the video.

    "There are students of color who don't feel safe, who don't feel comfortable, and that's a failure on the administration's part," one student said.

  • Georgia Senate Passes Strict Anti-Abortion Bill

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A still from "The Handmaid's Tale." Protesters at the capitol today dressed as characters from the Hulu show, based on a Margaret Atwood novel about a dystopian society where men force women to conceive and bear children.

    The Georgia Senate passed one of the nation's most restrictive abortion bills today.

    The largely party-line vote was 34–18, with both of the Athens area's senators, Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) and Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) voting in favor of it.

    The bill—dubbed the "Heartbeat Bill" by supporters—bans almost all abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. The bill criminalizes physicians, according to the Georgia Medical Association , and some critics say it could make women who use a morning-after pill legally culpable as well.

    Kemp is almost certain to sign the bill—he supported it during his campaign—setting up a potential legal battle. The American Civil Liberties Union has already said it will sue if Kemp signs the bill into law.

  • Creature Comforts Expands and More Beer News

    Blog: Grub Notes

    Creature Comforts has expanded the wood cellar at its downtown Athens brewery, and a new barrel-aged offering will go on sale next week.

    Pearson—a fruited ale aged in oak barrels that showcases Elberta peaches from Fort Valley's Pearson Farms—will be available on draft and in half-liter bottles to go Saturday, Mar. 30 from noon to 10 p.m. in the tasting room. Bottles are $18, and there is a limit of six per customer.

    Next up are Curious #12 and Existence, available later this spring. Curious #12 (8.1% ABV) is made from a portion of a previous release, River Ridge Black, conditioned with organic black raspberries and black courants, that was aged in a port barrel for eight months. Existence (13.7% ABV) is an imperial stout aged in a bourbon barrel for 23 months.

  • Voucher, Bail, Home Design Bills Don't Make It Past Legislature's Crossover Day

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens).

    The Senate voted down a bill last week creating a voucher program for private-school students when several Republicans either sat it out or crossed party lines, and a rumored revote never came to pass. SB 173 is most likely dead for the session, along with the similar House Bill 301.

    Crossover Day—the last day for a bill to pass either the House or the Senate and be eligible to pass in the other—came and went Thursday without a vote on HB 301 or HB 340, which would have restricted local governments’ ability to reform the cash bail system. SB 164, another bill aimed at bail reform sponsored by Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) died as well.

    HB 302, prohibiting local governments from regulating the design of houses, appeared to be on the fast track after passing out of committee, but also did not come up for a vote. However, all of these bills could be resurrected by attaching their language to bills on similar topics that did make it through Crossover Day. And they will get another chance next year.

  • Weapon Man Pointed at Police Before Being Shot Was Air Pistol

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Chief Cleveland Spruill briefs reporters on Sunday. Behind him is a photo of the airsoft gun Thomas Swinford brandished at police.

    The weapon a man pointed at police officers before they shot and killed him Friday was an airsoft gun, authorities said Sunday.

    While the investigation is ongoing, Athens-Clarke County Police Chief Cleveland Spruill released more details on Sunday.

    Friday evening police, initially responded to a call that Thomas Wayne Swinford, 34, of Grovetown, who was in Athens visiting relatives, was "behaving erratically" and was suspected of stealing a vehicle. After speaking to him initially and noticing that he had what appeared to be a gun, officers realized he had "an extensive criminal record," Spruill said. Possessing a gun is illegal for a convicted felon, so they returned to the home to speak to him again.

  • Athens Police Shoot and Kill Man Near Beechwood

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    The crime scene on Westlake Drive.

    Athens-Clarke County police shot and killed a man they "believed to be armed with a weapon" during a confrontation off Westlake Drive at about 6:30 p.m.

    According to a news release from ACCP issued at 10 p.m.:

    ACCPD officers encountered an adult white male who brandished what is believed to be a firearm in a threatening manner. Officers issued verbal commands for the individual to drop the firearm. The individual disregarded the officers’ command and charged the officers with the firearm in his hand pointed in the officer’s direction. Multiple officers, fearing for their lives and safety, discharged their firearms. After the shooting, officers immediately rendered first aid and the individual was transported to a local hospital where he succumbed to his injuries.

  • Girtz Releases Statement on Saulters Settlement

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Mayor Kelly Girtz released a statement this afternoon on the settlement with former Athens-Clarke County police officer Taylor Saulters saying that he and commissioners wanted to put the incident behind them and move forward with new law enforcement and diversity initiatives.

    "Like we have done with past circumstances involving members of the community and members of our Police Department, we evaluated this situation based on its own unique facts and circumstances," Girtz said. "We, the Mayor and Commission of Athens-Clarke County, have made this decision in order to avoid prolonging the pain and expense of continued litigation, and further place our energy moving forward into ensuring that safe, dignified lives can be lived throughout our community."

  • UPDATE: ACC Settles With Officer Who Hit Suspect With Car

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Former ACCPD officer Taylor Saulters.

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted Tuesday night to approve a settlement in a lawsuit filed by former police officer Taylor Saulters, who was fired last year after hitting a fleeing suspect with his cruiser.

    The vote was added to the commission's agenda at the last minute because, as ACC Attorney Bill Berryman told commissioners, Saulters agreed to it on Monday. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, nor had documents related to the settlement been posted online as of this writing, and several commissioners told Flagpole that they weren't sure if they were at liberty to discuss it. Commissioner Jerry NeSmith, presiding over the meeting in place of Mayor Kelly Girtz, said Girtz would release a statement in "the next couple of days."

    The vote was 5–2, with commissioners Tim Denson and Patrick Davenport voting against the settlement. Commissioner Mariah Parker abstained, Commissioner Andy Herod was absent, and NeSmith did not vote because he was acting as mayor pro tem. 

  • Athens Rents Among Fastest-Growing in U.S.

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens rents grew the tenth-fastest of any midsize city in the country over the past year, according to data gathered by an apartment-listing firm.

    Rents in Athens grew by 4 percent over the past 12 months, outpacing the Georgia average of 1.8 percent and the state average of 0.9 percent. That ranked No. 10 among cities with populations between 100,000–250,000.

    According to Apartment List, the median rent in February for a one-bedroom apartment was $770 a month, and $910 for a two-bedroom apartment.

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