COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • Deal Endorses Houston Gaines for State House

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Gov. Nathan Deal endorsed Republican Houston Gaines for state House District 117 today, saying "Gaines is the only candidate in the race who can deliver results for northeast Georgia and maintain our strong business climate."

    Gaines is running against state Rep. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens), who beat him in a special election last year. The seat had previously been held by Republicans since it was redrawn in 2012 but is now a swing district.

    From the Gaines campaign:

  • Abrams Accuses Kemp of Voter Suppression in Packed Athens Appearance

    Blog: In the Loop

     

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    Stacey Abrams speaks at Hendershot's Coffee and Bar Thursday evening.

    Democrat Stacey Abrams accused her Republican opponent, Secretary of State Brian Kemp, of trying to suppress minority turnout to win the governor’s race during a recent appearance in Athens.

    Abrams spoke at two local bars, Hendershot’s and Wayward Lounge, on Thursday, Oct. 11, the day after the Associated Press reported that Kemp’s office had not processed 53,000 voter registration applications because of minor discrepancies, such as accents in names, between the applications and other documents. Seventy percent of those would-be voters are black.

    Abrams, the former House minority leader who’s been running voter registration drives for Democrats for years, is no stranger to sparring with Kemp. Her organization, the New Georgia Project, previously filed a lawsuit against the secretary of state’s office over a similar issue.

    “I know what his tricks are,” Abrams said. “He’s a one-trick pony when it comes to voter suppression. It’s not going to work this time.”

  • Voters Asked to Resubmit Mail-in Ballots Due to Error

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens-Clarke County has asked about 300 voters to fill out new absentee ballots after an error was discovered in the ones they'd already they'd already been sent.

    According to ACC, those 300 voters received ballots that included a candidate for state Senate District 46 who should not have been included.

    The ballot listed Republican incumbent Bill Cowsert, Democrat Marisue Hilliard and independent John Fortuin. However, Fortuin did not qualify as an independent candidate. He is a write-in candidate, and write-in candidates' names do not appear on the ballot.

  • Stacey Abrams Is Campaigning in Athens Today

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: University of Georgia

    Two days after Donald Trump Jr. took the stage with Republican gubernatorial candidate Brian Kemp at the Classic Center, Democratic nominee Stacey Abrams is campaigning with another politician who's well-known locally—though probably not quite as famous nationwide.

    Abrams and Athens-Clarke County Mayor-elect Kelly Girtz are hosting a meet-and-greet from 6–8 p.m. today at Hendershot's Coffee and Bar. 

    The event is aimed particularly at young voters. They will discuss "the importance of voting for Democrats across the state," according to the Abrams campaign.

  • CCSD Closed, UGA Opens Late Thursday

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: National Weather Service

    Clarke County public schools will be closed Thursday and the University of Georgia will delay opening, officials announced as Hurricane Michael rampaged through the state Wednesday night.

    UGA will open at 10 a.m., with the first classes starting at 11 a.m.

    Gov. Nathan Deal extended a state of emergency to Clarke County on Wednesday afternoon. Forecasts call for 3–5 inches of rain and winds up to 30–40 miles per hour in Athens later tonight and Thursday morning, possibly downing trees and causing power outages. 

  • Creature Comforts Releases Three New Beers

    Blog: Grub Notes

    Athens brewery Creature Comforts released its long-awaited lawnmower beer, Classic City Lager, on Monday.

    The 4.2% ABV pale lager is meant to be an introduction to craft beer, as well as a simple, cold beverage to keep stocked in the fridge, according to head brewer David Stein. 

    It's been available on draft for a while now, but at its most recent Service Industry Night, Creature Comforts rolled out six- and 12-packs of cans. They'll show up in stores in Athens soon, if they haven't already.

  • Security Plan Announced for Trump Jr. Appearance

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Gage Skidmore

    Athens-Clarke County police will close down streets around the Classic Center Tuesday afternoon in preparation for Donald Trump Jr.'s appearance.

    The courthouse parking deck will be closed at 2 p.m.

    At 4 p.m., Foundry Street from Broad to Dougherty streets and Thomas Street between Clayton Street and Hancock Avenue will be closed. In addition, Thomas from Clayton to Broad will be closed to northbound traffic, but will remain open to southbound traffic.

  • Forum Tonight on Future of Athens Police

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole/file

    Commissioner Mariah Parker will be among the panelists.

    Local political groups have organized a forum this evening on the future of policing in Athens in the wake of Chief Scott Freeman's forced resignation last month.

    The forum is from 5–7 p.m. at Hendershot's Coffee and Bar. It will begin with a happy hour and music from William Freeman Leverett and Foreign, followed at 5:50 p.m. by a panel discussion featuring interim police chief Mike Hunsinger, Commissioner Mariah Parker, Commissioner-elect Tim Denson, former mayor Gwen O'Looney and UGA law professor Russell Gabriel, moderated by yours truly. An audience Q&A will follow the panel discussion.

    The forum is sponsored by the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, Athens for Everyone and the Athens Immigrants' Rights Coalition. Those groups are calling for the formation of a police citizens' advisory committee and public input on the choice of a new chief.

  • UGA Student Accused of Using Racial Slur at Football Game

    Blog: In the Loop

    A white University of Georgia student is under investigation after being accused of shouting a racial slur at Saturday's Georgia–Tennessee game.

    Student Klarissa Gulebian posted in the "Overheard at UGA" Facebook forum that someone yelled "put that [n-word] in the game," apparently referring to quarterback Justin Fields, a highly rated freshman who is black and whom some fans prefer over starter Jake Fromm.

    The person was later identified as baseball player Adam Sasser. He is under investigation by the UGA Equal Opportunity Office for violating the university's non-discrimination and non-harassment policy, according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

  • Dems Troll Brian Kemp With Pro-Vols Banner

    Blog: In the Loop

    Is Brian Kemp really a Tennessee fan? Well, the Brian Kemp isn't, but a Brian Kemp is.

    As Kemp and other Republican candidates were wrapping up a tailgate at Herty Field—where, we presume, everyone wore red—Georgia Democrats hired a plane to buzz Sanford Stadium with a banner reading "BRIANKEMP SAYS... GO VOLS."

    Brian Kemp is running for governor. BrianKemp is a parody Twitter account filled with negative news stories about Kemp and Photoshopped images of the candidate wearing orange. (The actual Kemp's actual Twitter handle is @BrianKempGA.)

  • ACCPD Deputy Chief Justin Gregory Is Resigning

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Photo Credit: Athens-Clarke County

    Deputy Chief Justin Gregory is the second top administrator to leave the Athens-Clarke County police department in less than two weeks.

    Gregory, a 23-year veteran of law enforcement, submitted his resignation Friday, effective Oct. 5. He told Flagpole that he's been thinking about changing careers for over a year to spend more time with his family and gain more life experience. He said he's leaving his options open.

    "It's time to figure out what to do with the rest of my life," he said.

  • Documentary on Mary Frances Early, First Black UGA Grad, Airs Tonight

    Blog: Culture Briefs

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    Photo Credit: courtesy of the University of Georgia

    Mary Frances Early poses near the Arch in 2012.

    A documentary on the first black student to graduate from the University of Georgia will air on Georgia Public Broadcasting at 10:30 p.m. today and again at 11 a.m. Sunday.

    Mary Frances Early: The Quiet Trailblazer premiered in Atlanta last week, and an on-campus screening is being arranged, according to the university. 

    The film was co-produced by Maurice Daniels, professor and dean emeritus of the UGA School of Social Work, and Michelle Cook, vice provost for diversity, inclusion and strategic initiatives. It is narrated by former WSB-TV anchor Monica Pearson.

  • Woman Killed Crossing West Broad Street

    Blog: In the Loop

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    An elderly woman was killed Friday night while crossing West Broad Street, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

    Patricia Barker, 74, was crossing West Broad at Briarcliff Road, where she lived, when she was hit by a driver in a minivan traveling east at about 8:30 p.m. Friday. She was crossing north to south and had made it across all but one of seven lanes of traffic when she was hit, police said.

    When police arrived, National EMS personnel were performing CPR. Barker was then taken to a hospital, where she died of her injuries.

    There is no crosswalk at Briarcliff Road, and there are no sidewalks to the nearest crosswalks on that part of West Broad.

    No charges have been filed against the driver, a 36-year-old Oconee County woman.

  • Groups Demand Answers on Chief Freeman's Departure

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Three local political groups want answers on why Scott Freeman is no longer chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department.

    The Athens Immigrant Rights Coalition, the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement and Athens for Everyone—representing the Latinx community, African Americans and progressives, respectively—issued a statement over the weekend demanding "clarity" on Freeman's departure.

    Freeman made a concerted effort to reach out to minority communities and refused to cooperate with Immigration and Customs Enforcement during his three-plus years as chief. He resigned under pressure last Thursday, with his boss, ACC Manager Blaine Williams, citing problems with attrition.

    According to the groups' statement:

  • City Manager: Police Chief Lost Confidence of Department

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams

    Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams said Thursday night that he and Police Chief Scott Freeman mutually agreed to part ways over simmering concerns about morale and attrition within the police department.

    "This has been coming for some time," Williams told Flagpole, adding that "this is a conversation that's been happening the past five or six months.

    "Real or perceived, there's been an erosion in confidence in the chief," Williams said. "The chief has done a lot of great things, but I've got to bring some stability to the department... At the end of the day, the chief and I agreed mutually this was in the best interests of the department."

  • Scott Freeman Is Out as Athens Police Chief

    Blog: In the Loop

    ACCPD Chief Freeman.jpg

    Scott Freeman is no longer chief of the Athens-Clarke County Police Department, but the circumstances surrounding his departure are unclear.

    As an Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement town hall meeting about community relations with police was wrapping up, AADM co-founder Knowa Johnson announced that Freeman had been fired.

    The Athens Banner-Herald broke the story at about 7:30 p.m., quoting Mayor Nancy Denson as saying that ACC Manager Blaine Williams had fired Freeman.

    “I wasn’t surprised that he was let go because I know there were several issues,” Denson told the ABH. “Evidently he wasn’t a good fit for Athens.”

    Neither Williams nor Freeman immediately returned calls seeking comment. But about 20 minutes later, the ACC government issued a news release saying Freeman had resigned effective today. The announcement said he is leaving to "pursue other opportunies."

  • Churches Sponsor Suicide Prevention Workshops

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Milledge Avenue Baptist Church and First Presbyterian Church of Athens are sponsoring two workshops—one for the public and one for faith leaders—on suicide prevention next week.

    The churches are bringing in Soul Shop, a faith-based suicide prevention program, to raise awareness of suicide as a public health problem and how to reduce the risk of suicide.

    First Presbyterian's parish nurse, Madeline Van Dyck, attended a Soul Shop conference in Atlanta.

    "The workshop boldy took on the mystery of suicidal depression and the heartache that surrounds it," Van Dyck said. "The presenter and the materials were able to frame for me a new understanding of the hold suicide has on a soul, and a crucial new step we all need to take to address desperation's call."

  • Forum for Athens Candidates Scheduled for Oct. 11

    Blog: In the Loop

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    The Athens Area and Oconee County chambers of commerce have scheduled the first local candidate forum of this election season, to be held Thursday, Oct. 11 from 6–8 p.m. in the auditorium on the third floor of Piedmont Athens Regional's medical services building at 242 King Ave.

    Confirmed candidates include state Sen. Bill Cowsert (R-Athens), state Sen. Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville and Democratic challenger Dawn Hawkins Johnson, state Rep. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Republican challenger Houston Gaines, and state Rep. Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville) and Republican challenger Marcus Wiedower. Cowsert's Democratic opponent, Marisue Hilliard, has not committed.

    The forum will be moderated by Tim Bryant, news director at WGAU 1340 AM, and broadcast live on that station.

  • AADM Hosts Town Hall Meeting Thursday on Community Policing and Race Relations

    Blog: In the Loop

    CD cop cookout Cole.jpg

    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    Athens-Clarke County police held a cookout in the Columbia Brookside neighborhood off Hawthorne Avenue last week. Under Chief Scott Freeman, the department has held occasional cookouts as a way to improve relationships between police and local communities.

    The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement will host a town hall meeting on community policing and race relations at the Athens-Clarke County library from 5:30–7:30 p.m. Thursday.

    Co-founder Mokah-Jasmine Johnson said that residents and community leaders are concerned that ACC police aren't doing enough to build trust and ensure safety in the wake of two recent incidents—an officer who hit a fleeing suspect with his car in June, and another officer who tackled a 10-year-old boy in July.

  • Standoff With Robber Ends at West Broad Gas Station

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A standoff with an alleged armed robber that shut down part of West Broad Street this evening ended without any injuries.

    A man walked into the Marathon gas station near Evans Street with a gun Friday afternoon intending to rob it, according to Athens-Clarke County police spokesman Epifanio Rodriguez. But after being confronted by someone inside, the man instead walked outside and sat down.

    When police arrived, the man—whose name has not been released—refused to comply with their instructions, Rodriguez said. The SWAT team was called in, and after attempts to negotiate, they used non-lethal rounds to take him into custody, he said.

    The man was arrested at about 7 p.m., and West Broad was reopened.

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