COLORBEARER OF ATHENS, GEORGIA LOCALLY OWNED SINCE 1987

In the Loop

  • Oconee Republican: Keep 'Eyes and Ears' on Clarke County Elections

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Brad Raffensperger.

    Brad Raffensperger told Oconee County Republicans he is motivated by three key issues in his bid to get the Republican nomination for Secretary of State in the May 22 primary.

    He said he wants to make sure that only Americans vote in elections in the state, that Georgia is a great place to find a job, and that Georgia is a great place to build a business.

    “That’s why I’m running for Secretary of State,” said Raffensperger, who is from Johns Creek and now represents District 50 in the Georgia House of Representatives.

    Raffensperger told the 25 people attending the Jan. 25 meeting of Oconee County Republicans at the very front of his talk that he was running for Secretary of State “to make sure that only American citizens vote in our elections.”

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  • GDOT Lifts Stop-Work Order for Mars Hill Construction That Polluted Barber Creek

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    The Georgia Department of Transportation lifted a stop-work order last week against G.P.’s Enterprises Inc., contractor for the widening of Mars Hill Road, that had halted all work on the road project since December of last year.

    GDOT had issued the stop work order after discovering problems with storm water drainage at the bridge over Barber Creek that resulted in dirt and sediment entering Barber Creek.

    G.P.’s, based in Auburn, GA, has been prohibited from moving forward with all work on the project except for repair of the drainage system at the bridge.

    Oconee County Public Works Director Emil Beshara said on Thursday of last week that G.P.’s is getting ready to start paving again, and he does not expect any delay in completion of the $26.4 million contract by the May 31 deadline.

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  • Houston Gaines Announces State House Rematch With Deborah Gonzalez

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    Houston Gaines—the young Republican who lost a state House of Representatives special election to Democrat Deborah Gonzalez last year—announced this morning that he will try for the District 117 seat again in November.

    “This district wants and deserves conservative leadership at the state Capitol—and that’s not what it’s getting now,” Gaines said in a news release. "I’m going to provide our district a conservative alternative to the out-of-touch representation we have today.

    “I have lived in this district my entire life and had the privilege of graduating from the university in my hometown. My family’s roots run deep here. Just as my grandfather [Joseph Gaines] served this community as a judge, I want to work on behalf of my neighbors in this district to bring high-paying jobs to this region, invest in education to bolster our workforce and prepare students for the careers of tomorrow and protect the high quality of life we enjoy here."

    Since taking office, Gonzalez has not shied away from staking out liberal positions on issues like health care and immigration. She co-sponsored a bill to expand Medicaid in Georgia and criticized Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edwards for holding undocumented jail inmates for Immigration and Customs Enforcement to deport.

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  • ACC Will Start Posting Videos of Commission Work Sessions

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    Today's Athens-Clarke County Commission work session will be moved to City Hall so that it can be recorded and video posted online for the first time.

    ACC has broadcast the commission's agenda-setting and voting meetings since 2002, but for years local activists have complained that work sessions—more informal meetings where important decisions are often made—have not been recorded or broadcast, meaning citizens have to physically attend what can often be three- or four-hour meetings to learn about the issues discussed.

    Unlike the commission chamber at City Hall, the Dougherty Street auditorium where work sessions are held does not have cameras, which had been county officials' justification for not recording or broadcasting them in the past.

    The Mayor and Commission decided at a recent retreat to try moving the work sessions to City Hall—a move some had resisted in the past because they thought the formal setting would stifle what is often a freewheeling discussion.

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  • Candidates Condemn 'Violent Rhetoric' by a Richard Winfield Supporter Against Chalis Montgomery

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    Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file

    Chalis Montgomery.

    Chalis Montgomery's campaign called on opponent Richard Dien Winfield today to denounce what it called "escalating and violent rhetoric" against Montgomery.

    Both Winfield and Montgomery are running in the Democratic primary to take on District 10 Rep. Jody Hice (R-Greensboro).

    Irami Osei-Frimpong, a Winfield supporter who is featured in some of his campaign materials, posted on Facebook Sunday that he would "kill their [white liberals'] Democrat." 

    The Montgomery campaign took this to be a threat and called on Winfield to denounce it. 

    “The national sickness of violent political speech—particularly against women—has unfortunately reached our city,” Montgomery spokeswoman Kimberly Davis said in a news release. “This issue is one that transcends this particular election and is reflective of where we are in terms of public discourse in this country. It’s about how we treat all women.”

    In a statement provided to Flagpole, Winfield said that he asked Osei-Frimpong to change the language of the post—which he did—and that he would not tolerate inflammatory speech.

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  • Commissioner Sims Will Resign; Business Owners Ask to Delay Downtown Project

     

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    Commissioner Harry Sims.

    Harry Sims will officially resign his Athens-Clarke County Commission seat next Tuesday to run for mayor, he announced at last Tuesday’s commission meeting.

    Because Sims has almost three years left in his term, state law requires him to resign before he qualifies to run for mayor the first week in March. Commissioner Kelly Girtz, who’s also running for mayor, is not required to resign his term will expire at the end of 2018—the same time he’d be sworn in as mayor if he wins—although he is not allowed to run for re-election and for mayor at the same time.

    Sims said he decided to resign now so that “this seat will not be vacant any longer than it has to be... and to save the taxpayers money.” The timing will allow a special election to be held for his seat on May 22, the same day as the mayor’s race and other commission races.

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  • Another Sewage Spill in Oconee County

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    Oconee County late Tuesday reported its second major spill in less than a month from its Calls Creek wastewater treatment plant outside Watkinsville.

    According to the county, an estimated 72,000 gallons of partially treated wastewater was released on Monday and Tuesday into Calls Creek from the plant, which is located at 1100 Durhams Mill Way, on the north side of Watkisville.

    The wastewater release exceeded permit limits for total suspended solids.

    The county said it notified the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, which classified the discharge as a major spill, and the Oconee County Environmental Health Department.

    On Jan. 9, the county reported a major spill of an estimated 24,000 gallons of wastewater that exceeded permit limits for total suspended solids from the Calls Creek plant.

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  • Oconee County Democrats and Republicans Managed to Have a Civil Discussion

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    Twenty-eight people turned out at the Oconee County Library in Watkinsville on a rainy afternoon Jan. 28 to exchange nonpartisan conversation with the goals of getting to know each other and of building community.

    The sponsors, the Oconee Progressives and Oconee Democrats, had reached out across party lines with their invitations, and they were successful.

    Oconee County Commissioner Chuck Horton, a Republican, attended, as did Kate McDaniel, secretary of the Oconee County Republican Party, and Marcus Wiedower, who ran unsuccessfully as a Republican in the special election for House District 117 representative last November.

    The event started at 3 p.m. and lasted just an hour, but several people were around a half hour later, continuing the conversations started during the structured part of the session.

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