Blog posts by Blake Aued, Editor

  • RIP HOPE Scholarship Founder Zell Miller

    Blog: In the Loop


    Zell Miller, the cantankerous former Georgia governor and senator who had a more profound effect on the University of Georgia than any governor since perhaps Eugene Talmadge, died today at the age of 86.

  • Pedestrian Killed on Commerce Road

    Blog: In the Loop

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    A driver killed a woman around 10 p.m. Tuesday while she was crossing Commerce Road near the Bulldog Inn, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

    Kimberly Pierce, 52, was killed by a '90s-model green Honda with tinted windows. The driver  and car left the scene after hitting Pierce. The car likely sustained front-end damage.

    Investigators are working to obtain surveillance footage from nearby businesses and believe there were witnesses to the hit-and-run. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Butt 706-208-1718, extension 226.

  • Piedmont Athens Regional Is Planning a $171 Million Expansion

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Piedmont Athens Regional is planning a $171 million expansion that will add a seven-story tower and nearly a quarter of a million square feet to the Prince Avenue hospital, according to documents filed with the state Department of Community Health.

    Piedmont notified DCH last week that it intends to apply for a certificate of need to build an addition to the hospital and renovate other space.

    The project would mostly affect the front of the medical complex facing Prince Avenue, where the emergency room entrance is located. It would involve tearing down part of the Prince 1 tower (the oldest part of the hospital) and building a new seven-story tower in its place. A fourth story would be added to the Prince 2 tower, and it would be renovated as well.

  • Harry Sims Has Beef With Athens for Everyone

    Blog: In the Loop

    Harry Sims web.jpg

    The progressive group Athens for Everyone gave mayoral candidate Harry Sims a D- on its commission report card last month, and Sims is not happy about it.

    The former commissioner has started a petition taking issue with his grade. “[W]e believe Commissioner Sims’ words and actions were deliberately omitted or incorrectly characterized in a way manner [sic] to create a false impression of the commissioner’s positions,” the petition says. “We believe that the A4E report card fails to disclose relevant information, lacks important disclosures of what criteria were used and does not disclose any conflicts of interests that might exist between the group and the candidates/officials that were evaluated.

  • AADM Hosts Mayoral Forum Tonight; Two More Scheduled

    Blog: In the Loop

    City Hall dome.jpg

    The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement will host a forum featuring mayoral candidates Kelly Girtz, Richie Knight and Harry Sims from 6–7:30 p.m. today at the Athens-Clarke County Library.

    The forum will "center around their action plans to address poverty in Athens, quality of life, diversity and community inclusion," according to the AADM.

    Originally the forum was set to be held at Ciné, but it has been moved to the library.

  • Who's Running for Which Office in Athens?

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson

    The five-day qualifying period when candidates officially sign up to run for local, state and federal offices in Georgia ended at noon today. Here's who will be on the ballot:

  • Avid Pulls Out of Athens Academy Book Fair After Being Told to Remove Book With Gay Characters

    Blog: In the Loop


    Avid Bookshop shut down the annual book fair it holds at Athens Academy today after an administrator told booksellers to hide a book that features gay characters, according to owner Janet Geddis.

    The director of the Oconee County private school's "lower" (or elementary) school told Avid staff to remove The Best Man by Newbery Medalist Richard Peck from display after a parent complained on Wednesday, Geddis said. The Best Man "tells the story of small-town life, gay marriage and everyday heroes," according to Avid's website

  • Athens Groups Organize School Shooting Forum Today

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Formulanone

    The Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement, Moms Demand Action for Gun Sense in America and other local groups and individuals will hold a "community response forum in support of Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School" in Parkland, FL, where a gunman killed 17 people earlier this month.

    The forum is scheduled for 6:30 p.m. tonight in the auditorium at the Athens-Clarke County Library. It will open with a moment of silence, then Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means and state Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) will speak.

    The AADM is seeking volunteers to "perform simple tasks for this event." Volunteers should call Knowa Johnson or Michael Smith at 706-380-5256.

  • Mariah 'Linqua Franqa' Parker Is Running for ACC Commission

    Blog: In the Loop

    Activist, hip-hop artist and Flagpole cover girl Mariah Parker is running for Athens-Clarke County Commission in District 2, she announced this weekend.

    Parker—a doctoral student in linguistics at UGA who's also known by her stage name, Linqua Franqa—had been Tommy Valentine's Commission District 9 campaign manager, but is now striking out on her own.

    She'll face Taylor Pass in the race to replace Commissioner Harry Sims, who resigned to run for mayor, and represent East Athens. Another announced candidate, teacher Mark Martin, has dropped out.  It's possible other candidates could jump in during the official qualifying period Mar. 5–9.

    Parker said she's running because the commission needs a full slate of progressives to enact policy. From her announcement:

  • A4E Gives Low Marks to Most Commissioners

    Blog: In the Loop

    Melissa Link web.jpg

    Only three Athens-Clarke County commissioners graded higher than a C on a report card issued by the progressive political group Athens for Everyone earlier this month.

    A4E’s grades were based on commissioners’ votes and public statements on the issues of transit expansion, fare-free buses, an anti-discrimination ordinance, Complete Streets, marijuana decriminalization, affordable housing, living wages, early learning and a plastic-bag ban or fee. "Champions" received extra credit for taking a leadership role on certain issues.

    The worst commissioner, from A4E’s perspective, was District 7 representative Diane Bell, who received an F. Mayoral candidate Harry Sims received a D- despite opposing A4E on every issue the group tracked. So did Mayor Nancy Denson, who received an F. District 1 Commissioner Sharyn Dickerson also received a D-.

  • Creature Comforts' Reclaimed Rye Is Now in Cans, and More Local Beer News

    Blog: Grub Notes

    Reclaimed Rye.jpg

    Creature Comforts is finally releasing its fourth year-round offering, Reclaimed Rye, in cans this Saturday.

    The amber ale—named for the reclaimed wood that local carpenters Oneta Woodworks used to make the brewery's long tables and benches—is aged with French oak spirals and is 5.5% ABV. It joins IPA Tropicalia, pilsner Bibo and berliner weisse Athena as year-round canned offerings.

    "We have wanted Reclaimed Rye in cans for three years," CEO Chris Herron said in a news release. "It is a favorite beer around the brewery and in the market, but capacity restraints have kept it as a draft-only offering."

    However, with Creature Comforts set to open a second brewery in Southern Mill off Chase Street this spring, capacity is no longer an issue.

  • Houston Gaines Announces State House Rematch With Deborah Gonzalez

    Blog: In the Loop

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    Houston Gaines—the young Republican who lost a state House of Representatives special election to Democrat Deborah Gonzalez last year—announced this morning that he will try for the District 117 seat again in November.

    “This district wants and deserves conservative leadership at the state Capitol—and that’s not what it’s getting now,” Gaines said in a news release. "I’m going to provide our district a conservative alternative to the out-of-touch representation we have today.

    “I have lived in this district my entire life and had the privilege of graduating from the university in my hometown. My family’s roots run deep here. Just as my grandfather [Joseph Gaines] served this community as a judge, I want to work on behalf of my neighbors in this district to bring high-paying jobs to this region, invest in education to bolster our workforce and prepare students for the careers of tomorrow and protect the high quality of life we enjoy here."

    Since taking office, Gonzalez has not shied away from staking out liberal positions on issues like health care and immigration. She co-sponsored a bill to expand Medicaid in Georgia and criticized Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards for holding undocumented jail inmates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport.

  • ACC Will Start Posting Videos of Commission Work Sessions

    Blog: In the Loop

    City Hall dome.jpg

    Today's Athens-Clarke County Commission work session will be moved to City Hall so that it can be recorded and video posted online for the first time.

    ACC has broadcast the commission's agenda-setting and voting meetings since 2002, but for years local activists have complained that work sessions—more informal meetings where important decisions are often made—have not been recorded or broadcast, meaning citizens have to physically attend what can often be three- or four-hour meetings to learn about the issues discussed.

    Unlike the commission chamber at City Hall, the Dougherty Street auditorium where work sessions are held does not have cameras, which had been county officials' justification for not recording or broadcasting them in the past.

    The Mayor and Commission decided at a recent retreat to try moving the work sessions to City Hall—a move some had resisted in the past because they thought the formal setting would stifle what is often a freewheeling discussion.

  • Candidates Condemn 'Violent Rhetoric' by a Richard Winfield Supporter Against Chalis Montgomery

    Blog: In the Loop

    Chalis Montgomery web.jpg

    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file

    Chalis Montgomery.

    Chalis Montgomery's campaign called on opponent Richard Dien Winfield today to denounce what it called "escalating and violent rhetoric" against Montgomery.

    Both Winfield and Montgomery are running in the Democratic primary to take on District 10 Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro).

    Irami Osei-Frimpong, a Winfield supporter who is featured in some of his campaign materials, posted on Facebook Sunday that he would "kill their [white liberals'] Democrat." 

    The Montgomery campaign took this to be a threat and called on Winfield to denounce it. 

    “The national sickness of violent political speech—particularly against women—has unfortunately reached our city,” Montgomery spokeswoman Kimberly Davis said in a news release. “This issue is one that transcends this particular election and is reflective of where we are in terms of public discourse in this country. It’s about how we treat all women.”

    In a statement provided to Flagpole, Winfield said that he asked Osei-Frimpong to change the language of the post—which he did—and that he would not tolerate inflammatory speech.

  • Commissioner Sims Will Resign; Business Owners Ask to Delay Downtown Project

    Blog: In the Loop



    Commissioner Harry Sims.

    Harry Sims will officially resign his Athens-Clarke County Commission seat next Tuesday to run for mayor, he announced at last Tuesday’s commission meeting.

    Because Sims has almost three years left in his term, state law requires him to resign before he qualifies to run for mayor the first week in March. Commissioner Kelly Girtz, who’s also running for mayor, is not required to resign his term will expire at the end of 2018—the same time he’d be sworn in as mayor if he wins—although he is not allowed to run for re-election and for mayor at the same time.

    Sims said he decided to resign now so that “this seat will not be vacant any longer than it has to be... and to save the taxpayers money.” The timing will allow a special election to be held for his seat on May 22, the same day as the mayor’s race and other commission races.

  • RIP Peter Appel, Barry Hollander and Rich Rusk

    Blog: In the Loop


    Athens recently lost three prominent members of the community in activist Rick Rusk and University of Georgia professors Barry Hollander and Peter Appel.

  • Deborah Gonzalez Endorses Kelly Girtz for Mayor

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: Chris Scredon

    State Rep. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) has endorsed Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Kelly Girtz in the race for mayor of Athens.

    “Deborah has spent her career working toward a fair, supportive environment, particularly for women and creative professionals, and with that background, we are fortunate to have her representation in the General Assembly,” Girtz said in a news release. “She shares a commitment to ensuring that all people are provided with real opportunity, and I'm grateful for her endorsement in my run for Mayor of Athens-Clarke County. I'm looking forward to continuing our collaborative efforts for the good of Athens and the region.”

  • Bill Overend Announces Commission Candidacy

    Blog: In the Loop

    City Hall dome.jpg

    Athens lawyer Bill Overend announced today that he's running for the Athens-Clarke County Commission District 7 seat, representing part of Five Points and Macon Highway.

    Overend—a former Flagpole staffer who ran for ACC Solicitor General in 2006 and has served as chairman of the ACC Democratic Committee and on the Athens Downtown Development Authority board—said that he believes the local government doesn't do enough to anticipate challenges or act to solve them, rather than endlessly studying the issue.

    The full text of his announcement is below:

  • Athens State Reps, Local Churches Condemn Sheriff's Policy of Detaining Undocumented Immigrants

    Blog: In the Loop


    Photo Credit: House Photo Office

    Gonzalez (center) and Wallace (right) at their swearing-in ceremony in November.

    Newly elected state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville) issued a joint statement today condemning Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edward's policy of detaining inmates so they can be deported.

    It came to light in December that the sheriff's office had quietly changed its policy in July and begun, at Immigration and Custom Enforcement's request, detaining inmates that ICE says are undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours past the point when they'd otherwise be released so ICE can pick them up and deport them.

    The policy change met with harsh criticism from progressive and immigrants' rights groups, to which Wallace and Gonzalez have added their voices:

  • Clarke, Oconee Schools Closed Again Thursday; UGA Delayed

    Blog: In the Loop

    Public schools in Clarke and Oconee counties will be closed again Thursday, as any snow that melted and did not evaporate today will refreeze overnight, making roads treacherous.

    Both the Georgia Department of Transportation and Athens-Clarke County government said crews have been working day and night to clear the roads, but warned people to stay home.

    The ACC Police Department said officers had worked 84 wrecks today as of 3:45 p.m.

    The Oconee County Sheriff's Office posted a similar, if more humorous, warning on Facebook:

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