In the Loop

  • ACC Announces Plans to Redevelop Bethel



    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Bethel Midtown Village.

    Athens-Clarke County announced plans late Friday afternoon to spend $39 million redeveloping the affordable housing complex Bethel Midtown Village if voters opt to extend a 1 percent sales tax for construction projects in November.

    The project, in partnership with the Athens Housing Authority and private developers Columbia Residential and Jonathan Rose Companies, would also include surrounding ACC and AHA properties, in addition to the 190-unit complex off College Avenue just north of downtown.

    “This project would truly transform not only this site and the lives of its residents, but it also has the potential to provide reinvestment into the surrounding area, including downtown Athens,” Mayor Kelly Girtz said in a statement. “This partnership presents a great opportunity to expand the number of affordable and workforce homes downtown and create a healthy, sustainable and well-maintained environment for residents.”


  • School Board Votes Tonight on Buying Milledge Property

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    Photo Credit: Google Streeview

    The Clarke County Board of Education will vote tonight on whether to buy a building at 394 S. Milledge Ave. to serve as the school district's new headquarters.

    The 37,000 square foot building on 2.2 acres, located next door to Clarke Central High School, is valued by the Athens-Clarke County tax assessor's office at $3.9 million. The square footage is less than the 60,000 Superintendent Demond Means has said the district needs.

    CCSD has been looking for a new central office since selling its Mitchell Street building to Advantage Behavioral Health Systems for $2.8 million in 2016 because then-superintendent Philip Lanoue wanted a more central location. Administrators have been split between the H.T. Edwards building and the Whitehead Road Elementary School annex ever since.


  • ACC Police Warn of THC Tainted Vape Cartridges

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    Photo Credit: courtesy of ACCPD

    Athens-Clarke County police issued a warning today about homemade vape cartridges that have been "tainted" with THC and other chemicals.

    Earlier this week, police executed a warrant and seized 2,370 of the homemade cartridges. They were nearly identical to those produced by a company in California—where THC, the compound in marijuana that makes you high—is legal, but several other chemicals that carry health concerns were added, too.

    In addition, THC remains illegal in Georgia, and shipping THC to Georgia from a state where it's legal is against the law, as well.


  • Is the Justice System Really Just?

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    From left, public defender John Donnelly, Superior Court judge Lisa Lott and Municipal Court judge Ryan Hope.

    The judicial branch is one of the three branches of government, but it’s probably the least well known. Let’s explore the judicial branch of government on the federal, state and local levels.

    Superior Court Judge Lisa Lott, Municipal Court Judge Ryan Hope and Circuit Public Defender John Donnelly discuss their roles in the justice system and how they think this system can be reformed.


  • Paul Broun Wants to Be a Senator (Again)

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    Remember Paul Broun Jr., Athens' former congressman who regularly made late-night talk show fodder with proclamations like "evolution is a lie straight from the pit of Hell"?

    Well, Broun is back. He's been laying low after a failed U.S. Senate run in 2014, but now he wants Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint him to the seat Sen. Johnny Isakson is leaving at the end of the year.

    From the AJC:


  • BOE Member John Knox Responds to Superintendent Means' Allegations


    John Knox.

    Tuesday Flagpole published a story about Clarke County School Superintendent Demond Means' response to a complaint filed with accreditation agency AdvancED in which he alleged that three school board members attempted to micromanage and usurp his authority.

    The story did not include the full response from one of those board members, John Knox. He has provided an 11-page account of his interactions with Means, which you can read here. An excerpt:


  • Firefly Trail Bridge Proposal Blends Old and New

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    Consultants hired by Athens-Clarke County to design a bridge over Trail Creek incorporating the famed "Murmur trestle" have submitted a final proposal that will go before the ACC Mayor and Commission next month.

    Based on feedback from an ACC-appointed user group and the public, consulting firm Kimley Horn came up with a design that involves rebuilding the remaining portion of the wooden trestle, bolstered by more modern steel-and-concrete arches on either side.

    The trestle was part of the first railroad into Athens, and was made famous in the early 1980s, when R.E.M. put it on the back cover of its debut album. Owner CSX started to demolish it in 2000, but R.E.M. fans around the world rallied, and the local government purchased what was left, with plans to turn the historic railroad into a walking and biking trail.


  • BOE Approves Early Learning Center at West Broad

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    The Clarke County Board of Education voted Thursday night to approve Superintendent Demond Means' controversial plan for an early learning center at the West Broad School.

    Means' $10 million proposal includes five to 10 Head Start, Early Head Start and/or pre-K classrooms in a new building, as well as community meeting rooms, an office for students to fill out job and college applications, and a school-based health clinic in the historic portion of the school facing Minor Street.

    The vote was 4–2, with Kara Dyckman, Charles Worthy, Linda Davis and LaKeisha Gantt in favor, and John Knox and Greg Davis opposed. Frances Berry was out of town. Patricia Yager abstained. Tawana Mattox, who works for the Athens Land Trust, recused herself—a crucial distinction, because she was counted as not present, meaning only four votes were required to pass Means' plan instead of five.


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