COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

In the Loop

  • 'Run It Up' Podcast: Can the Murmur Trestle Be Saved?

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    In "Run It Up," Flagpole's new podcast, we take a deeper look at some of the stories from the current issue. In this week's episode, Gabe Vodicka talks with Blake Aued about what the future holds for the so-called Murmur trestle, the segment of abandoned railway made famous by its appearance on the back cover of R.E.M.'s debut album. Also, how Georgia's controversial "heartbeat bill" could affect abortion rights on a national scale—or backfire on the Athens lawmakers who supported it. Plus, a preview of this year's Classic City Brew Fest.

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  • Jared Bybee Will Resign From the Clarke County School Board

     

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    Photo Credit: Thinc UGA

    Come June, Jared Bybee will no longer be the president of the Clarke County Board of Education. His family and he are moving to southern California, where his wife has accepted a job with the University of California, Irvine.

    Bybee was first elected to the board in 2016. His colleagues voted him president in January 2018.

    “Being on the board has been a ton of work, but very rewarding, and I’ve learned a lot from my colleagues on the board even when we disagreed,” Bybee said. “Even after seeing all the complicated innards of how it all works, I remain steadfast in my optimism for CCSD and the direction we are headed.”

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  • What Should ACC Do About the Murmur Trestle?

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    With the construction of Firefly Trail finally underway after nearly 20 years, Athens-Clarke County finally has to make a decision about what to do with the Murmur trestle.

    In 2000, CSX started to remove rails and demolish trestles along an abandoned rail line running from Winterville to downtown Athens. One of those trestles, near Poplar Street, was featured on the back cover of R.E.M.’s album Murmur. Fans rallied, and ACC purchased the trestle and halted the demolition, but not before it was halfway gone.

    As many cities have done with unused railroads—see New York’s High Line or the Silver Comet Trail west of Atlanta—ACC decided to convert the flat, level rail bed into a walking and biking trail. Sales tax collections, planning and federal approval took over a decade. The first leg of the trail, between East Broad Street and Dudley Park, opened last year. Initially, there was not enough money for a new bridge over Trail Creek, but that’s changed since voters approved a 1 percent sales tax for transportation in 2017.

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  • Georgia House Passes Abortion Bill

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    A bill severely restricting abortions in Georgia passed narrowly with a 92-78 vote on the House floor on Friday. It takes 91 votes to pass a bill.

    Now, House Bill 481 heads to Gov. Brian Kemp’s desk to be signed into law.

    Kemp is expected to sign the legislation. In his 2018 campaign, he vowed to his supporters to sign “the strictest abortion law in the nation.”

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  • Bill Would Make Confederate Monuments Harder to Move

     

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    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file

    Athens' Confederate monument, erected in 1872, now sits in the Broad Street median downtown after being moved twice before.

    Athens' Confederate monument, and others, will be harder to move if the state legislature passes a bill granting monuments greater protection.

    Reps. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) and Marcus Wiedower (R-Watkinsville) voted in favor of Senate Bill 77. Rep. Spencer Frye (D-Athens) voted against the bill, which passed 100–71.

    SB 77, sponsored Sen. Jeff Mullis (R-Chickamauga), increases the punishment against those who damage or destroy a monument. Those found guilty of damaging a monument could be fined up to three times the costs to repair or replace it, according to the bill.

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  • Protest at UGA as Lawmakers Prepare for Abortion Vote

     

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    Photo Credit: Savannah Cole

    About 100 people protested HB 481, the anti-abortion "Heartbeat Bill," on campus Wednesday.

    The Georgia House of Representatives could vote soon on what will be one of the strictest—if not the strictest—abortion laws in the country today.

    On Friday, the Georgia Senate moved forward House Bill 481. The “Heartbeat Bill” bans most abortions after six weeks of pregnancy. That’s when supporters claim a fetal heartbeat can be detected, although doctors dispute that. The current law bans most abortions after 20 weeks.

    Both Athens-area senators, Bill Cowsert (R-Athens) and Frank Ginn (R-Danielsville) voted in favor of the bill. Two Athens representatives, Republicans Houston Gaines and Marcus Wiedower, have stated they will vote to approve the bill as they did the first time around. Democrat Spencer Frye is the only Athens legislator expected to vote against it.

    Senate tweaks to the bill mean the House must approve it again to send it on to Gov. Brian Kemp for his signature, but time is running out. Before Day 38 of the 40-day session, HB 481’s sponsor, Rep. Ed Setzler (R-Acworth), said the bill is three votes shy of passage.

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  • Black UGA Students Say They're Frustrated With Racism on Campus

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    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    More than 200 University of Georgia students gathered at the Miller Learning Center Monday night to talk about a racist video that went viral over the weekend.

    Black students who spoke at the "In Solidarity" event, organized by the Student Government Association and UGA chapter of the NAACP, said they were hurt but not surprised by the Snapchat video, which showed a white UGA fraternity member whipping another white student with a belt, telling him to "pick my cotton," and using a racial slur. They also criticized the university administration's response to the video.

    "There are students of color who don't feel safe, who don't feel comfortable, and that's a failure on the administration's part," one student said.

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  • UGA Frat Suspended Over Racist Video

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    The Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity’s UGA chapter has been suspended and four members expelled from the fraternity after a video surfaced showing them using racist language and mocking slavery.

    “I want to reach out to you to express how profoundly disappointed and appalled I am by the content of a recent video involving four UGA students that has been circulating on social media. I know this matter has caused great pain and anguish within our University community,” UGA president Jere Morehead said in a statement. “This incident does not reflect the culture of unity and inclusion which we support on our campus.”

    Once the video began gaining attention, the University of Georgia, Student Government Association and Tau Kappa Epsilon gave statements via Twitter.

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