In the Loop

  • Clarke County Graduation Rate Tops 80%


    Clarke County's graduation rate ticked up to 81.4% in 2019, just shy of Georgia's as a whole.

    Both of the county's traditional high schools, Clarke Central and Cedar Shoals, beat the state average of 82%, with 83.7% and 83.5%, respectively. At the alternative Classic City High, 24 of 46, or 52%, of students graduated within four years.

    The 82% figure is an all-time high for Georgia. The state graduation rate has increased by 12 points since the federal government changed the way graduation rates are calculated in 2012.


  • Watkinsville Mayor Dave Shearon, Opponent Bob Smith Face Off in Debate

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    Photo Credit: Lee Becker

    Bob Smith (left) and Dave Shearon.

    More than 100 people turned out on Thursday night for an election forum in Watkinville that featured a very respectful exchange between incumbent Mayor Dave Shearon and challenger Bob Smith.

    Though Smith, a real estate agent and former state representative, has had open disagreements with the Watkinsville Council in recent months regarding development of his property, little of the tension was in evidence on Thursday night, until the very end.

    In his closing comments, Smith implied that the city was not transparent and that citizens were not being treated with respect by the mayor.


  • Former Athens Judge Blocks Georgia Abortion Law


    Judge Steve Jones.

    Georgia's infamous "heartbeat bill" banning most abortions after the sixth week of pregnancy suffered a legal setback today when a federal judge blocked the law from taking effect while it's challenged in the court system.


  • ACC Announces Plans to Redevelop Bethel



    Photo Credit: Joshua L. Jones/file

    Bethel Midtown Village.

    Athens-Clarke County announced plans late Friday afternoon to spend $39 million redeveloping the affordable housing complex Bethel Midtown Village if voters opt to extend a 1 percent sales tax for construction projects in November.

    The project, in partnership with the Athens Housing Authority and private developers Columbia Residential and Jonathan Rose Companies, would also include surrounding ACC and AHA properties, in addition to the 190-unit complex off College Avenue just north of downtown.

    “This project would truly transform not only this site and the lives of its residents, but it also has the potential to provide reinvestment into the surrounding area, including downtown Athens,” Mayor Kelly Girtz said in a statement. “This partnership presents a great opportunity to expand the number of affordable and workforce homes downtown and create a healthy, sustainable and well-maintained environment for residents.”


  • School Board Votes Tonight on Buying Milledge Property

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    Photo Credit: Google Streeview

    The Clarke County Board of Education will vote tonight on whether to buy a building at 394 S. Milledge Ave. to serve as the school district's new headquarters.

    The 37,000 square foot building on 2.2 acres, located next door to Clarke Central High School, is valued by the Athens-Clarke County tax assessor's office at $3.9 million. The square footage is less than the 60,000 Superintendent Demond Means has said the district needs.

    CCSD has been looking for a new central office since selling its Mitchell Street building to Advantage Behavioral Health Systems for $2.8 million in 2016 because then-superintendent Philip Lanoue wanted a more central location. Administrators have been split between the H.T. Edwards building and the Whitehead Road Elementary School annex ever since.


  • ACC Police Warn of THC Tainted Vape Cartridges

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    Photo Credit: courtesy of ACCPD

    Athens-Clarke County police issued a warning today about homemade vape cartridges that have been "tainted" with THC and other chemicals.

    Earlier this week, police executed a warrant and seized 2,370 of the homemade cartridges. They were nearly identical to those produced by a company in California—where THC, the compound in marijuana that makes you high—is legal, but several other chemicals that carry health concerns were added, too.

    In addition, THC remains illegal in Georgia, and shipping THC to Georgia from a state where it's legal is against the law, as well.


  • Is the Justice System Really Just?

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    From left, public defender John Donnelly, Superior Court judge Lisa Lott and Municipal Court judge Ryan Hope.

    The judicial branch is one of the three branches of government, but it’s probably the least well known. Let’s explore the judicial branch of government on the federal, state and local levels.

    Superior Court Judge Lisa Lott, Municipal Court Judge Ryan Hope and Circuit Public Defender John Donnelly discuss their roles in the justice system and how they think this system can be reformed.


  • Paul Broun Wants to Be a Senator (Again)

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    Remember Paul Broun Jr., Athens' former congressman who regularly made late-night talk show fodder with proclamations like "evolution is a lie straight from the pit of Hell"?

    Well, Broun is back. He's been laying low after a failed U.S. Senate run in 2014, but now he wants Gov. Brian Kemp to appoint him to the seat Sen. Johnny Isakson is leaving at the end of the year.

    From the AJC:


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