In the Loop

  • Watch the Flagpole/DT Productions Mayoral Forum


    Insert your own thought bubbles.

    Last Thursday, Flagpole teamed with local video producers DT Productions and the Red & Black to live-stream a forum featuring mayoral candidates Kelly Girtz, Richie Knight and Harry Sims.

    The candidates faced questions from me and fellow moderatoes Lisee Pullara, the R&B's editor in chief, and DT President Andrew Levy on topics ranging from affordable housing to sexual assault to the Athens airport.

    About 6,000 people watched the forum live on Facebook and Twitter, but in case you missed it—or it was just so entertaining, you feel compelled to watch it again and again—here it is!


  • Deadline Passes Without Piedmont-Blue Cross Blue Shield Deal



    "We checked your bank account, and no, I'm sorry, we can't remove your brain tumor."

    A deadline for Piedmont Healthcare and Blue Cross Blue Shield’s parent company, Anthem, to reach a deal on a new contract came and went at midnight Mar. 31. While all hope isn’t lost, for now, thousands of UGA, ACC and Clarke County School District employees, among others, will have to either pay higher out-of-pocket costs or find new doctors.

    While the contract has expired, emergency room visits at Piedmont Athens Regional will still be considered in-network for BCBS customers.

    Piedmont Healthcare, which owns Piedmont Athens Regional, sued Blue Cross Blue Shield in February after the insurance company decided it would no longer pay for MRIs and CT scans performed in hospitals, only at less expensive outpatient clinics. The two companies are also locked in a dispute over how much BCBS should reimburse Piedmont doctors.


  • Kelly Girtz Releases Affordable Housing Plan

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    Athens-Clarke County commissioner and mayoral candidate Kelly Girtz released a plan Friday to deal with Athens' affordable housing problem.

    2016 study found that middle-income families are leaving Clarke County because they can't afford to buy a home here. The median home price rose from $153,000 in 2013 to $172,000 in 2015 while incomes did not keep pace.

    “Finding affordable housing in Athens is a real challenge for many of us," Girtz said in a news release. "Some seniors are getting priced out of neighborhoods they’ve lived in for their whole lives. Working people have trouble finding single-family homes they can afford. The good news this is a problem that local government can do something about, and if I’m elected mayor, we’ll make housing more affordable.”

    Girtz's plan includes:


  • Flagpole Teams With DT Productions to Live-Stream Mayoral Forum Thursday


    Flagpole is teaming up with Normaltown video producers DT Productions to live-stream a mayoral forum starting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Mar. 29.

    The forum will feature all three candidates—Kelly Girtz, Richie Knight and Harry Sims. It will be moderated by me, former Flagpole intern Nate Harris (now a senior reporter at the Red & Black) and DT Productions co-founder Andrew Levy.

    Each candidate will be asked three questions in each of three categories: economy and housing, public safety and education, and community. We welcome ideas for questions from readers, so feel free to leave yours in the comments. There will also be an opportunity to suggest questions on Facebook during the forum.

    The forum will be streamed on DT Productions' Facebook page,


  • RIP HOPE Scholarship Founder Zell Miller


    Zell Miller, the cantankerous former Georgia governor and senator who had a more profound effect on the University of Georgia than any governor since perhaps Eugene Talmadge, died today at the age of 86.


  • Pedestrian Killed on Commerce Road

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    A driver killed a woman around 10 p.m. Tuesday while she was crossing Commerce Road near the Bulldog Inn, according to Athens-Clarke County police.

    Kimberly Pierce, 52, was killed by a '90s-model green Honda with tinted windows. The driver  and car left the scene after hitting Pierce. The car likely sustained front-end damage.

    Investigators are working to obtain surveillance footage from nearby businesses and believe there were witnesses to the hit-and-run. Anyone with information is asked to call Sgt. Butt 706-208-1718, extension 226.


  • Piedmont Athens Regional Is Planning a $171 Million Expansion


    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Piedmont Athens Regional is planning a $171 million expansion that will add a seven-story tower and nearly a quarter of a million square feet to the Prince Avenue hospital, according to documents filed with the state Department of Community Health.

    Piedmont notified DCH last week that it intends to apply for a certificate of need to build an addition to the hospital and renovate other space.

    The project would mostly affect the front of the medical complex facing Prince Avenue, where the emergency room entrance is located. It would involve tearing down part of the Prince 1 tower (the oldest part of the hospital) and building a new seven-story tower in its place. A fourth story would be added to the Prince 2 tower, and it would be renovated as well.


  • Harry Sims Has Beef With Athens for Everyone

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    The progressive group Athens for Everyone gave mayoral candidate Harry Sims a D- on its commission report card last month, and Sims is not happy about it.

    The former commissioner has started a petition taking issue with his grade. “[W]e believe Commissioner Sims’ words and actions were deliberately omitted or incorrectly characterized in a way manner [sic] to create a false impression of the commissioner’s positions,” the petition says. “We believe that the A4E report card fails to disclose relevant information, lacks important disclosures of what criteria were used and does not disclose any conflicts of interests that might exist between the group and the candidates/officials that were evaluated.


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