In the Loop

  • COVID-19 Cases Spike in Northeast Georgia


    The Northeast Health District of the Georgia Department of Public Health reported 51 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 at noon on Wednesday, the largest increase ever recorded in the district by a daily status report in a 24-hour-period.

    Every county but one in the 10-county Northeast Health District reported an increase in cases, with Barrow County reporting 24 new cases.

    Oconee County reported two new cases and no deaths in the Daily Status Report, but the separate Long Term Care Facility COVID-19 Report issued by the Department of Public Health listed a recent death at High Shoals Health and Rehabilitation nursing facility in North High Shoals.


  • Biodegradable Plastic Manufacture RWDC Will Employ 200 People in Athens


    RWDC's polyhydroxyalkanoates, made of used cooking oil, can replace plastics in goods like straws.

    A company that manufactures a biodegradable alternative to plastic is expanding and will hire 200 employees, state and local officials announced Tuesday.

    RWDC, founded in 2015 at a University of Georgia innovation lab and now based in Singapore, will expand into a 400,000 square-foot facility in Athena Industrial Park off Voyles Road.

    Job listings indicate the positions will pay between $38,000–$90,000 a year.


  • Kemp Delays Athens DA Race Until 2022

    Brian Kemp 1_16.jpg

    Gov. Brian Kemp.

    By failing to appoint a replacement for former district attorney Ken Mauldin by last Sunday, Gov. Brian Kemp pushed the scheduled election of a new DA back to 2022.

    Under a 2018 state law, if Kemp fills a vacancy within six months of an election, the elections is automatically postponed for two years. That deadline passed on May 3.

    The election had already been delayed once. Mauldin resigned in February, which triggered a special election, meaning the two candidates—Brian Patterson and Deborah Gonzalez—would have faced off in November, rather than in the Democratic primary.


  • Kemp Will Lift Stay-at-Home Order, but Don't Think We're in the Clear



    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole/file

    Gov. Brian Kemp has lifted the statewide shelter-in-place order effective Friday, even as hundreds of new COVID-19 cases are being reported daily, and Mayor Kelly Girtz and medical professionals warned that Georgia is not out of the woods yet.

    The shelter-in-place order restricting travel except for essential business has been in place since Apr. 3. Last week, Kemp allowed certain businesses—including nail and hair salons, tattoo parlors and bowling alleys—to reopen, and restaurants could reopen their dining rooms starting Monday, although many have chosen not to do so. Today, he extended safety guidelines for reopened businesses, such as requirements that employees wear protective gear and limit capacity, through May 13. He also ordered the elderly and “medically fragile” people to stay at home through June 12.

    “What we’ve done has worked,” Kemp told the AJC. “It’s given us time to build our hospital infrastructure capacity, get ventilators and ramp up testing. That’s what really drove our decision.”


  • UGA Plans to Reopen This Fall


    The University of Georgia plans to resume classes on campus this fall, President Jere Morehead said in a message today to students, faculty and staff.

    "We are anticipating a resumption of in-person instruction for the Fall Semester beginning in August 2020 for all USG institutions," Morehead said. "However, I would emphasize that this situation remains a fluid one, as the USG monitors developments related to COVID-19 and receives counsel from state public health officials. Guidance could be subject to change, even after our plans are put in place. We will need to remain flexible and patient as we move forward."


  • Accreditation Agency Puts CCSD on Probation


    Former superintendent Demond Means.

    Accreditation agency Cognia has changed the Clarke County School District's status from "accredited" to "accredited under review" after looking into allegations of school board members micromanaging made by then-superintendent Demond Means last year.

    Cognia—formerly known as AdvancED—told interim superintendent Xernona Thomas about the change in status Apr. 24. The agency gave CCSD until December to make changes and restore accredited status.

    Thomas said in a news release that the change in status will not affect graduating seniors, nor does she anticipate it affecting future graduates, since the district is committed to addressing Cognia's directives.


  • ACC Names New Transportation and Central Services Directors, Sustainability Officer

    Mike Wharton web.jpg

    Mike Wharton.

    Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams tapped a recently retired traffic engineer to head the county's Transportation and Public Works Department, promoted the county sustainability officer to lead the Central Services Department and named a longtime county employee as the new sustainability officer in a flurry of personnel moves last week.

    New Transportation and Public Works Director Steve Decker was ACC's head traffic engineer for 10 years until retiring in 2017. He has also worked for the Florida Department of Transportation and as a bike planner in Albuquerque, among other posts. 

    "During his previous time with Transportation and Public Works, Steve demonstrated an enthusiasm for safety, innovation, and collaborative projects that are still paying dividends today," Williams said in a news release. "He brings over 40 years of experience in both local and state government transportation departments that gives him a unique perspective that will serve this community well. Steve knows this community and its transportation systems. We look forward to welcoming him back to ACCGov." 


  • Athens for Everyone Grades Mayor and Commissioners


    Commissioner Mariah Parker.

    The progressive political group Athens for Everyone gave high marks to Athens-Clarke County commissioners Tim Denson, Mariah Parker and Melissa Link in recently released report cards for the ACC mayor and commission.

    According to the organization, the grades were based on how commissioners' votes aligned with A4E's positions, as well as subjective factors like "public statements, perception of priorities and stated stance on issues including the Linnentown Resolution." The commission's response to COVID-19, which A4E said has been "sound and humane, especially in contrast with decisions on the state level," was not considered.


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