In the Loop

  • Commissioner Jerry NeSmith Announces Re-election Bid

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    As expected, Athens-Clarke County Commissioner Jerry NeSmith will be running for re-election, he announced today.

    NeSmith has represented District 6, the Atlanta Highway area mostly outside the Loop, since 2013. 

    "The Sixth District has become more economically stable," he said in a news release. "We are at the threshold of a renewed Sixth District that is ripe for commercial redevelopment. Neighborhoods in District 6 remain very healthy, overall, with active citizen participation in business/neighborhood issues, county activities and policy-making."


  • Mayor Bob Smith Is at Odds With the Watkinsville City Council

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Watkinsville Mayor Bob Smith suggested delaying a decision on the development plan for the Wisteria Ridge apartment complex on 75 North Main St. at the Watkinsville Mayor and Council meeting last week.

    The mayor votes only in the case of a tie, and the council approved the plan in a 3 to 1 vote.

    Smith strongly opposed the site development plan submitted by Oconee State Bank for its new headquarters at 41 North Main St. Council approved the plan 3 to 0, with council member Brian Brodrick recusing himself from the discussion and vote. (Council member Christine Tucker was absent from the meeting.)


  • Interim Principal Appointed at Chase Street

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    Whitehead Road Elementary assistant principal Laura Kraus will serve as interim principal at Chase Street Elementary through the end of the school year, Clarke County School District interim superintendent Xernona Thomas announced today.

    Kraus will replace Nikki Hittle, who abruptly resigned Monday.

    "As a strong instructional leader who understands the importance of building a collaborative culture, Mrs. Kraus enjoys and values making connections with students and families," Thomas said in a news release and note to parents. "I am confident in her ability to lead the Chase Street Elementary community until a permanent replacement is selected."


  • Kemp Sets Feb. 20 Deadline to Apply for DA

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    Brian Patterson.

    Gov. Brian Kemp has set a Thursday deadline for applications for the position of district attorney for the Western Judicial Circuit consisting of Clarke and Oconee counties.

    Brian Patterson, currently chief assistant district attorney, has said he will apply for the appointment.

    Deborah Gonzalez, former House District 117 representative, has said she will not submit her application.


  • More Departures at CCSD as Chase Street Principal, Clarke Middle Band Director Resign


    Photo Credit: Chase Street PTO

    Chase Street Elementary School.

    A tumultuous year for the Clarke County School District continues as the new principal at Chase Street Elementary School and the popular band director at Clarke Middle School both resigned within the past week.

    Nikki Hittle, whom former superintendent Demond Means hired to lead Chase in August, resigned today effective immediately. Interim Superintendent Xernona Thomas did not give a reason in a news release.

    As with all principal hirings, Chase's Local School Governance Team—made up of teachers, parents and community members—will provide input into the new principal. In the meantime, Executive Director of Leadership Development Rachel Williams will support assistant principal Allison Niedzwieki, Thomas said.

    "I am confident our teachers and staff at Chase Street Elementary will continue to serve our students and maintain a focus on instruction," Thomas said.


  • Houle, Hull Enter ACC Commission Races


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    Jesse Houle.

    ACC Commissioner Jerry NeSmith will have a challenge from the left this year, as progressive activist Jesse Houle announced they're running against the District 6 incumbent.

    Houle was part of Occupy Athens and one of the cofounders of Athens for Everyone, the group that grew out of Commissioner Tim Denson’s failed 2014 mayoral campaign and later helped elect a slate of progressive candidates to the Mayor and Commission. Houle is also a musician, operations manager at Nuci’s Space and a fixture at the podium during the commission’s public comment periods.


  • Cedar Shoals and Clarke Central Named AP Honor Schools

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    In spite of the board of education being an ongoing reality TV show, there is some good news coming out of the Clarke County School District. Both Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals are among the 255 Georgia high schools to be named Advanced Placement Honor Schools for 2020.

    In addition, Clarke Central was one of 70 high schools named an AP School of Distinction, meaning at least 20% of students took an AP exam, and 50% of those scored a three or higher. Three is generally the minimum score to receive college credit.

    Cedar Shoals was named an Access and Support School, where at least 30% of AP students identified as black or Hispanic, and 30% scored a three or higher.


  • The Religious Left Reminds You to Vote


    Laura Mick wants to know what your voting plan is.

    It is 11 a.m. on the bitterly cold Sunday morning prior to the New Hampshire primary, and the 42-year-old Granite State native is carefully navigating the inch of ice on the sidewalks of Manchester’s low-income, heavily immigrant 5th Ward in order to remind its residents to vote. And to remind them that, even if they are convicted felon or haven’t yet registered, they can still vote in the primary. Also, they can get a ride if they need it.

    A canvasser with the New Hampshire Interfaith Action Fund, an affiliate of the Granite State Organizing Project (GSOP), which unities “religious, labor and community organizations rooted in faith and democratic values” and advocates for “policies that will build community across difference and promote a just society for all the people of New Hampshire,” Mick can relate to how tough it is to make it to the polls. 


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