In the Loop

  • New School Board Appointee Misled Board About Graduating From Cedar Shoals


    Newly appointed Clarke County Board of Education member Antwon Stephens did not graduate from Cedar Shoals High School in 2014, as he implied when he sought a vacant position on the board last month, according to a report in the Cedar Shoals student newspaper.

    A majority of the board chose Stephens from among four applicants to fill the vacancy in District 2 for the remainder of 2020. In his written application and in a speech to the board, he described himself as "Cedar Shoals class of 2014." One of his champions on the board, Tawanna Mattox, cited the fact that he is a recent CCSD graduate as reason to support him.

    But when confronted by reporters from Cedar BluePrints — who noted that he wasn't in the yearbook or listed on the graduation program — Stephens admitted that he didn't actually graduate from Cedar Shoals. He left during either his sophomore or junior year, and said he received a diploma from an online high school.


  • Oconee Board Signs Off on 'Ritz-Carlton of Retirement Communities'

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    Landscape architect Ken Beall (right) speaks to the Oconee County Planning Commission.

    The Oconee County Planning Commission has recommended that the Board of Commissioners approve a rezoning request for just under 62 acres between Old Epps Bridge Road and the Loop for a large retirement community with 398 residential units.

    The project, called Celebration Village Athens–Oconee Campus, will include in Phase 1 two three-story “concierge living” buildings, a three-story assisted living and memory care building, two four-story independent living buildings and 32 independent living cottages.

    Phase 2 will include 86 independent living units that will be sold to interested residents who are 55 years old or older.


  • Video: Panelists Discuss Voter Suppression

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    Photo Credit: Chris Dowd

    From left, Deborah Gonzalez, Christopher Bruce, Jeanne Dufort and Linda Lloyd.

    Suppressed: The Fight to Vote, a documentary by Robert Greenwald about voter suppression in the 2018 election in Georgia screened Tuesday at Ciné.

    Afterward, a panel discussion was moderated by Deborah Gonzalez, former District 117 state representative and current candidate for district attorney in Athens. The Panel was made up of Christopher Bruce, political director of the Georgia ACLU; Jeanne Dufort, a volunteer with the Coalition for Good Governance; Jesse Evans, chairman of Athens-Clarke County Board of Elections; and Linda Lloyd, executive director of the Athens Economic Justice Coalition.


  • Video: Athens Area Residents Protest Creosote-Burning Biomass Plant

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    Photo Credit: Chris Dowd

    The Madison Clean Power Coalition held a protest outside the biomass plant in Colbert on Saturday. Over 60 people were present to demand that the plant stop burning creosote-treated railroad ties.


  • UGA Prof Richard Dien Winfield Launches Senate Campaign

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    University of Georgia philosophy professor Richard Dien Winfield is running for U.S. Senate, he announced today.

    Winfield, a Democrat, is seeking to fill out the remainder of former Sen. Johnny Isakson's term, which runs through 2022. Republican Gov. Brian Kemp appointed businesswoman Kelly Loeffler to the seat in December, after Isakson resigned for health reasons. A special election will be held this November.

    He supports a federal job guarantee, paid family leave and vacation time, the Green New Deal, free child and elder care, the right to unionize and "Medicare for all" single-payer health insurance. His website includes more information about his platform.


  • Live-Work-Play Development Planned in Watkinsville

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    The Watkinsville City Council on Wednesday authorized City Manager Sharyn Dickerson to move forward with creation of a development agreement for the 66.6-acre former Southwire property on Barnett Shoals Road.

    The council took the action following a presentation by developer Duke Gibbs and planner Bob Smith for what they are calling Wire Park.

    The project includes single-family detached housing units on both large and small lots, townhomes and condominium flats, and an adaptive reuse of the existing wire manufacturing building on the site.


  • Video: Mokah Johnson Kicks Off State House Campaign

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    Photo Credit: screencap via YouTube

    Educator and civil rights activist Mokah Jasmine Johnson formally kicked off her campaign for state House District 117 Saturday at the downtown bar Max Canada.

    Other speakers at the event included Athens-Clarke County commissioners Mariah Parker (15:00) and Tim Denson (20:22), Athens PRIDE board member Cameron Harrelson (34:47), poet Marcel Mincey (42:43) and former state Rep. Deborah Gonzalez, who is running for district attorney this year (50:58).

    Unless she has primary opposition, Johnson will face Rep. Houston Gaines (R-Athens) in November. District 117 includes mainly western Clarke County and northern Oconee County.


  • BOE Picks Antwon Stephens as New Member



    Photo Credit: photo via Twitter

    A 23-year-old political consultant will serve out the year as the District 2 representative on the Clarke County Board of Education, other board members decided Thursday. A majority of the BOE selected Antwon Stephens from among five applicants to replace Frances Berry, who resigned in December. 

    In a speech to the school board at its Jan. 16 meeting, Stephens said he is concerned about the school-to-prison pipeline. He called Vernon Payne—who held the East Athens seat for decades before illness forced him to resign—a mentor. “I’m tried, I’m tested, and I’m ready to serve,” he said.

    Stephens is perhaps best known as a potential candidate for Athens-Clarke County mayor in 2018, although in the end he opted not to run because of health problems. He also made headlines in 2013, when he ran for chairman of the Democratic Party of Georgia as a 17-year-old and faced charges of not paying speakers at a tea party conference he organized. Despite not being old enough to serve in Congress, he has been running as a Democrat against U.S. Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville).


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