COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

In the Loop

  • Girtz Releases Statement on Saulters Settlement

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    Mayor Kelly Girtz released a statement this afternoon on the settlement with former Athens-Clarke County police officer Taylor Saulters saying that he and commissioners wanted to put the incident behind them and move forward with new law enforcement and diversity initiatives.

    "Like we have done with past circumstances involving members of the community and members of our Police Department, we evaluated this situation based on its own unique facts and circumstances," Girtz said. "We, the Mayor and Commission of Athens-Clarke County, have made this decision in order to avoid prolonging the pain and expense of continued litigation, and further place our energy moving forward into ensuring that safe, dignified lives can be lived throughout our community."

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  • Student Senators Urge UGA to Honor Slaves

     

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole/file

    Protesters gather around UGA Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion Michelle Cook as she speaks at the Baldwin Hall memorial dedication in November.

    A Student Government Association resolution urging the University of Georgia to build a monument on North Campus to all enslaved people at the University of Georgia and to dedicate the Chapel Bell to two enslaved men who were utilized as bell ringers on campus passed 32-3 Tuesday night.

    “Many community members and students do not feel as though the University of Georgia adequately, publicly acknowledged its past entanglement with slavery, nor acknowledged the substantial contributions that enslaved peoples made towards the establishment and success of the University,” the SGA resolution states.

    For senators like Jessica Douglas, who introduced the resolution, memorials at Baldwin Halland Oconee Hill Cemetery are not enough.

    “There’s this conception that because a memorial was placed at Baldwin Hall that we’ve sort of checked the box and that that’s all we really need to do. I want to continue the conversation and grappling with our legacy of slavery,” Douglas said.

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  • UPDATE: ACC Settles With Officer Who Hit Suspect With Car

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    Former ACCPD officer Taylor Saulters.

    The Athens-Clarke County Commission voted Tuesday night to approve a settlement in a lawsuit filed by former police officer Taylor Saulters, who was fired last year after hitting a fleeing suspect with his cruiser.

    The vote was added to the commission's agenda at the last minute because, as ACC Attorney Bill Berryman told commissioners, Saulters agreed to it on Monday. The amount of the settlement was not disclosed, nor had documents related to the settlement been posted online as of this writing, and several commissioners told Flagpole that they weren't sure if they were at liberty to discuss it. Commissioner Jerry NeSmith, presiding over the meeting in place of Mayor Kelly Girtz, said Girtz would release a statement in "the next couple of days."

    The vote was 5–2, with commissioners Tim Denson and Patrick Davenport voting against the settlement. Commissioner Mariah Parker abstained, Commissioner Andy Herod was absent, and NeSmith did not vote because he was acting as mayor pro tem. 

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  • Athens Rents Among Fastest-Growing in U.S.

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    Athens rents grew the tenth-fastest of any midsize city in the country over the past year, according to data gathered by an apartment-listing firm.

    Rents in Athens grew by 4 percent over the past 12 months, outpacing the Georgia average of 1.8 percent and the state average of 0.9 percent. That ranked No. 10 among cities with populations between 100,000–250,000.

    According to Apartment List, the median rent in February for a one-bedroom apartment was $770 a month, and $910 for a two-bedroom apartment.

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  • Michigan VP for Research Jack Hu Named UGA Provost

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    S. Jack Hu, the vice president for research at the University of Michigan, will take over as provost and vice president for academic affairs at the University of Georgia July 1.

    Hu oversees the $1.5 billion research program at Michigan while also teaching manufacturing, serving on the executive committee of the National Academy of Engineering's Transportation Research Board and leading the driverless vehicle initiative Mcity. He previously served as associate dean for academic affairs and associate dean for research and graduate education in Michigan's College of Engineering.

    UGA President Jere Morehead chose him from among four finalists selected by a faculty search committee.

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  • Oconee County Moves to Keep Economic Development Out of the Public Eye

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    County Administrator Justin Kirouac.

    The Oconee County Board of Commissioners on Tuesday night will consider transferring the county’s economic development activities to the Oconee County Chamber of Commerce.

    The action comes in the form of a memorandum of understanding that would convey $100,000 annually to the chamber and give it responsibility for providing economic development services for the county, including attracting and recruiting new businesses and industries.

    The intent of the agreement, according to Board of Commissioners Chair John Daniell and County Administrator Justin Kirouac, is to circumvent the state’s open records and open meetings laws.

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  • Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement Kicks Off Voting Rights Tour Thursday

     

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    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Mokah-Jasmine Johnson.

    On Thursday, Feb. 28 from 6–9 p.m. at Hendershot’s, the Athens Anti-Discrimination Movement will launch a seven-city tour to promote voting.

    “The 2018 elections in Georgia left many people wondering if voter suppression played a role in the final outcome,” said AADM cofounder Mokah-Jasmine Johnson, who was featured recently on HBO’s “Vice News” for her work to get out the vote in Athens. “So, I wanted to do this tour to inform and encourage everyday citizens to stay engaged and get involved.”

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  • Bill Prohibiting House Design Regulations Passes Committee Over Oconee's Objections

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    A screenshot of Athens homebuilder Jared York testifying before the House Agriculture Committee.

    The Agriculture and Consumer Affairs Committee of the Georgia House of Representatives voted 6-5 Wednesday morning to pass House Bill 302 prohibiting local governments from regulating building design of one or two-family dwellings.

    The vote followed a discussion of more than an hour that was dominated by the building industry in the state, with speakers strongly favoring the bill and criticizing local regulations of residential housing.

    One of the most outspoken of those who addressed the committee was Jared York, past president of the Athens Area Home Builders Association, who singled out Clarke and Oconee counties for criticism.

    Representatives of the Georgia Municipal Association and the Association County Commissioners of Georgia spoke against the bill, as did Lilburn Mayor Johnny Crist. Lilburn is in Gwinnett County.

    Oconee County Commission Chair John Daniell and Commissioner Chuck Horton attended the meeting and asked to speak, but Committee Chair Tom McCall called for a vote before they could do so.

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