COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Assistant Manager Jestin Johnson and Transportation Director Drew Raessler Leave ACC

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Drew Raessler.

    Two more top Athens-Clarke County officials, Assistant Manager Jestin Johnson and Transportation and Public Works Director Drew Raessler, are leaving.

    Raessker will resign June 18 to take a job as deputy director of the Cobb County Department of Transportation. He was a construction engineer for Cobb County before coming to Athens in September 2016.

  • Senate Candidate Teresa Tomlinson Says Trump Should Be Impeached

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Democratic Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson.

    Democratic Senate candidate Teresa Tomlinson believes House Democrats have a "duty" to begin impeachment hearings against President Donald Trump, regardless of whether it's politically advantageous.

    "The fact of the matter is, you're not up there to get re-elected," she told a group of Athens Democrats over breakfast Saturday morning. "You're up there to lead."

    While most Democrats believe Trump committed crimes and abused his power while in office, they are split on whether to move forward with impeachment. Some, remembering the GOP's unpopular impeachment of President Bill Clinton, think impeaching Trump might boost his chances of re-election.

    Even if the Democrat-controlled House did vote to impeach, it would likely be a futile gesture, as 67 votes in the Senate are required to convict, and Republican senators have shown no signs of abandoning Trump.

    "We have to go through the process," Tomlinson said. "If the Senate votes to acquit, they vote to acquit."

  • Athens Moms (and Others) Rally to End Gun Violence

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Whitley Carpenter

    ACCPD Chief Cleveland Spruill and Mayor Kelly Girtz.

    About 30 people wearing orange to symbolize their opposition to gun violence braved a looming thunderstorm Friday night for a rally featuring Athens Mayor Kelly Girtz and Police Chief Cleveland Spruill.

    "We wear orange to say we will be seen, we will be heard, we will show up—even when it's raining—and we will work to end gun violence," said Emma Jones of Moms Demand Action, which organized the rally.

    The group also tried to light up City Hall orange, though as they acknowledged, the coloring wasn't really visible in the dim light.

  • Michael Thurmond Signs New Edition of Athens Black History Book Saturday

    Blog: Culture Briefs

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    Athens native Michael Thurmond will sign copies of A Story Untold: Black Men and Black Women in Athens History at The Classic Center from 4–6 p.m. Saturday.

    Thurmond has updated the book for its 40th anniversary.

    In 1986, Thurmond became the first African-American elected to the state legislature from Athens since Reconstruction. He served as state labor commissioner from 1997–2010, becoming the first non-incumbent African-American to win a statewide race in Georgia. After a failed run for Senate, he became superintendent of the DeKalb County school system, and was elected CEO of DeKalb County in 2016.

  • You Can Drink at UGA Football Games This Fall—if You're Rich

    Blog: In the Loop

    The SEC has lifted its ban on selling alcoholic beverages at sporting events, but the average Dawg still won't be able to throw back a cold one in the stands at Sanford Stadium.

    The new policy, approved Friday, requires conference members that wish to sell alcohol to set aside designated areas for consumption and prohibits drinking in seating areas.

    "Our policy governing alcohol sales has been a source of considerable discussion and respectful debate among our member universities in recent years," SEC commissioner Greg Sankey said in a statement. "As a conference, we have been observant of trends in the sale and consumption of alcohol at collegiate sporting events and have drawn upon the experiences and insights of our member schools which have responsibly established limited alcohol sales within controlled spaces and premium seating areas."

  • CCSD Budget Funds Police and Counselors; Cuts Grants for Schools

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Superintendent Demond Means.

    The Clarke County School District’s proposed 2020 budget includes funding for an assistant police chief and new positions focused on student behavior—partially funded by cuts to grants that individual schools can spend however they please.

    Thanks to rising property values and increased state funding, the $164 million budget is $14 million bigger than the current fiscal year, but much of that money will be eaten up by health care and pension expenses. Still, the budget does include about a dozen new positions:

  • UGA Administrators Dispute Faculty Report on Baldwin Hall

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Photo Credit: Dorothy Kozlowski/UGA

    A memorial erected last year at Baldwin Hall honoring the people whose remains were found underneath it during construction.

    The UGA administration released a point-by-point response last week to a scathing Faculty Senate report on the Baldwin Hall debacle.

    Administrators admitted that they should have done more to ascertain whether there were graves underneath Baldwin before digging, such as using ground-based radar. Under Gwynne Darden, the head of the Office of University Architects, new procedures are in place, such as retaining an independent archaeologist to advise on construction projects. They dismissed the charge that faculty should have been consulted, noting that no one spoke up until the remains were discovered in 2015. Although they did not hold a town hall meeting, administrators wrote that they met with members of the Athens community individually and in small groups, and that painting those individuals as “sycophants” is insulting.

  • LaKeisha Gantt Picked as Clarke County BOE President

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Clarke County Board of Education chose LaKeisha Gantt as its next president at a called meeting Thursday.

    Gantt, who represents District 7, replaces District 4 representative Jared Bybee, who is resigning from the board at the end of the month because his wife, UGA law professor Mehrsa Baradaran, has taken a job in California.

    Gantt will serve out the remainder of Bybee's term as president, which runs through the end of the year. Much as it did earlier this year to fill Vernon Payne's District 2 seat, the board will choose a new District 4 member once Bybee resigns.

    Gantt is a psychologist and former CCSD employee who now runs a small private practice and teaches at Piedmont College. She is relatively new to the board, having been elected in 2018.

    The board chose her over District 3 representative Linda Davis. She remains the vice president.

  • Ethics Complaint Filed Against CCSD Superintendent Demond Means

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means.

    An ethics complaint filed against Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means alleges that he plagiarized part of a letter to colleagues, accepted an inappropriate gift and may have lied about his dissertation on his job application.

    Patrick McKee, a Newnan lawyer, filed the complaint with the Georgia Professional Standards Commission, which certifies educators, on May 3. McKee formerly represented the PSC as a senior assistant attorney general and currently is general counsel for the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools, an accrediting body.

    McKee told Flagpole that he “represents a group of parents and taxpayers” in Athens, but would not say who. “At some point, the group will become more visible,” he said.

  • Baldwin Hall Protesters Rally Again

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    A week after they first sought a meeting with UGA President Jere Morehead about the university's handling of slave remains found underneath Baldwin Hall, protesters gathered again for what one activist, Imani Scott-Blackwell, dubbed #MoreheadMonday.

    The group of about 50 gathered at the Arch on Monday afternoon before marching through North Campus, waving signs and chanting slogans. They paused briefly at the Administration Building—where campus police threatened to arrest them last Monday—but did not try to enter the building. It has remained locked since a confrontation Thursday with a sign posted on the door stating that "expressive activities are not permitted in interior spaces."

  • Athens Teacher Charged With Sexually Assaulting Student

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A Clarke Central High School math teacher was booked into jail on a sexual assault charge this morning after being accused of an "inappropriate incident" with a student.

    Athens-Clarke County police obtained a warrant Monday for Kara Elizabeth Coalson, 23, after investigating "a potentially inappropriate incident" between a teacher and a student, according to an ACCPD news release.

    Coalson was booked into jail at 1:26 a.m. and charged with sexual assault by a person with supervisory/disciplinary authority. Bond was set at $10,000 for the felony charge.

  • John Barrow Will Run for Georgia Supreme Court

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Former congressman John Barrow of Athens will run for an open seat on the Georgia Supreme Court, he announced today.

    An appellate court depends on the combined experience of its judges to arrive at decisions that are fair and just,” Barrow said in a news release. When Justice [Robert] Benham retires, the Supreme Court will lose almost as much experience as the rest of the Court combined.  That’s why I’m running—to offer my experience to help maintain the kind of balance we want in our Supreme Court.”

    Barrow's father, James, was a Superior Court judge in Athens and oversaw the desegregation of the local school system.

    John Barrow graduated from UGA and Harvard Law School, and clerked at two federal appeals courts before opening a private law practice in Athens.

  • 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:

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