Blog Topic: Government

  • In the Loop: 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.


  • In the Loop: 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).


  • In the Loop: The Best and Worst Athens Politics Stories of 2019

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    Here are top five best and worst things that happened in Athens government in 2019, courtesy of the Athens Politics Nerd.


  • In the Loop: John Knox Won't Run for Re-Election to BOE


    Clarke County Board of Education member John Knox won't run for re-election this year, he recently announced.

    The UGA geography professor posted a message on his Facebook page Dec. 21 stating that his growing academic duties do not allow him enough time to devote to serving on the school board.


  • In the Loop: Accreditation Agency Will Conduct 'Special Review' of CCSD


    Photo Credit: Whitley Carpenter/file

    Former superintendent Demond Means.

    School accreditation agency Cognia will conduct a "special review" of the Clarke County School District in response to complaints that board members attempted to micromanage and undermine the authority of former superintendent Demond Means.

    Cognia—formerly known as the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS) and AdvancED before recently merging with another education nonprofit—informed CCSD of the special review in a letter dated Dec. 16.

    Unknown parties filed complaints with Cognia in August, and Means wrote a letter to the company in September inviting it to investigate the allegations. SInce then, more unknown parties have come forward with similar complaints, according to Chief Certification Officer Annette Bohling.

    Among Means' allegations:


  • In the Loop: Both Athens Congressmen Vote Against Impeachment


    Rep. Doug Collins (R-Gainesville)

    It should come as no surprise, given that both are Republicans, but Athens congressmen Jody Hice and Doug Collins voted Wednesday night against impeaching President Donald Trump, although they were defeated by a Democratic majority, so the GOP-controlled Senate will now quickly dispense of the charges hold a trial on whether Trump should be removed from office.


  • In the Loop: BOE Names Xernona Thomas Interim Superintendent


    Photo Credit: Blake Aued

    Xernona Thomas.

    The Clarke County Board of Education voted unanimously Tuesday to name Xernona Thomas as interim superintendent.

    Thomas had served as former superintendent Demond Means' chief of staff until last week, when the board placed Means on administrative leave, ending his controversial two-and-a-half year tenure.

    Thomas is a Clarke Central High School and University of Georgia graduate who holds a bachelor's degree in journalism, a master's in social work and a doctorate in education, and has 27 years of experience as a social worker and school administrator in Clarke and Oconee counties.


  • In the Loop: New Voting Machines Available for Testing

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    Photo Credit: ACC Board of Elections

    Georgia’s new voting machines are available for testing in Athens through early February.

    Voters use a touch screen to make their choices, then the machine prints a paper ballot that is run through a scanner.

    "I'm excited to use the new system and for Athens-Clarke County voters to try it out for themselves," Charlotte Sosebee, director of elections and voter registration, said in a news release. "The new voting system is easy to use, provides opportunities for voters to review their votes on a screen and on paper before casting their ballot, and also provides our office with multiple ways to review election results if necessary."

    Voters can try out the machines at the Board of Elections Monday through Friday from 8 a.m.–5 p.m. Other sites include:


  • In the Loop: Demond Means Is Out as CCSD Superintendent

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    Photo Credit: Austin Steele/file

    Superintendent Demond Means and the Clarke County School District will be parting ways .

    "The board has entered into negotiations for his exit," President LaKeisha Gantt announced after the school board met for nearly four hours behind closed doors.

    The board took no vote on Means' departure. It's unclear if he is resigning, being fired or—most likely—negotiating a buyout. It's also unclear when his rocky tenure as superintendent will formally end. Gantt declined to answer any questions, saying that discussions in executive session are confidential.


  • In the Loop: School Board Won't Pursue Ethics Complaint Against Means

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    Clarke County Board of Education members decided last week that they don't want to pursue an ethics complaint filed against Superintendent Demond Means with the state Professional Standards Commission in May.

    The complaint—filed by a Newnan lawyer on behalf of anonymous group of clients—alleged that Means plagiarized a passage from a self-help book in a memo to staff, inappropriately accepted payment for teaching an AVID training course while also pushing the BOE to hire the company, and questioned whether he completed his dissertation.

    The PSC wrote to the school board in June asking it to investigate the allegations. The school district's attorney, Michael Pruett, told the board that PSC likely perceived the complaint as merely "local political turmoil."


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