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.
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."
Photo Credit: Blake Aued
Clarke Middle School is back on the Clarke County School District’s ESPLOST project list.
Superintendent Demond Means told school board members at a work session Thursday that he wants to restore $10 million for Clarke Middle renovations and postponing a new district headquarters.
Athens voters have overwhelmingly approved extending a local 1% sales tax for capital projects.
Over three quarters of voters approved SPLOST 2020, which passed with 78.4% of 8,978 ballots cast.
SPLOST 2020 will last an estimated 11 years and fund $314 million worth of projects. Big ticket items include a new judicial center to replace the outdated and overcrowded courthouse, an arena at the Classic Center and redeveloping the aging, dilapidated Bethel Midtown Village affordable housing complex. That's in addition to 34 smaller projects, ranging from crowd-pleasers like park improvements to necessities like equipment for firefighters.
With a vote on SPLOST 2020 coming up Tuesday, it's obvious that a lot of folks have questions—and misconceptions—about the sales tax and the projects it will fund. The community group Friends of ACC SPLOST 2020, headed by Shannon Wilder, who chaired the citizens committee that recommended projects, is here to provide some answers.
Visitors spent $330 million in Athens last year, up 6.6%, accounting for nearly 3,000 jobs and over $22 million in tax revenue, saving the average local taxpayer $488, the Athens Convention and Visitors Bureau announced at a hospitality industry awards banquet Oct. 27 at the Classic Center.
The CVB’s Partner of the Year was Russell Stalvey, brewery events business manager at Terrapin Beer Co. The Classic Host Award went to Jean Lord, event manager at UGA’s Carl Vinson Institute of Government, who has brought numerous conventions to Athens. Piedmont College President James Mellichamp won the Louis Griffith Hospitality Leadership Award. The CVB also honored Valencia Landry, a server at Hotel Indigo, as the city’s front-line hospitality employee of the year.
Athens-Clarke County's first inclusion officer—charged with making the local government more diverse—is Krystle Cobran, a former consultant, podcast host, author and UGA instructor.
ACC Manager Blaine Williams announced Cobran's hiring Friday, and she started work this week. Mayor Kelly Girtz created the position in the current year's budget, based on a recommendation by a task force appointed by former Mayor Nancy Denson after widespread reports surfaced of discrimination at downtown bars.
“I am excited that we have found someone of Krystle’s caliber to launch and develop such an important new part of the Unified Government to serve this community in such profound ways,” Williams said in a news release. “Her work on inclusion initiatives and background in the law gives her a unique and valuable perspective as we continue to make Athens-Clarke County a welcoming and inclusive community for all residents and visitors.”
The Federal Railroad Administration and the Georgia Department of Transportation are currently taking public input on three proposed routes for high-speed rail between Atlanta and Charlotte, one of which would run through Athens.
The "greenfield corridor" through Athens offers the highest speeds—125 miles per hour for diesel or 220 mph for electric—as well as the highest potential ridership, carrying up to 6.3 million people in 2050.
Another route, along I-85, with the nearest stop in Commerce, would have similar speeds and ridership, but at a much higher cost of $13.3 billion to $16.4 billion, compared to $6.2 billion to $8.4 billion for the greenfield corridor.
The third alternative would run along the existing Silver Crescent track through Toccoa and Gainesville. It would be much cheaper at $2 billion to $2.3 billion to upgrade those tracks. But it would also top out at 79 mph for diesel and 110 mph for electric, and carry far fewer people, about 940,000 to 1.1 million in 2050.
On Nov. 5, Athens-Clarke County voters will decide whether to extend a 1 percent tax for special projects called SPLOST, and early voting at the ACC Board of Elections at 155 E. Washington St. started today.
The Athens Politics Nerd breaks down what the tax will pay for, including projects like an arena at the Classic Center, energy efficiency, a new recycling center and more.
Athens-Clarke County Manager Blaine Williams has appointed an interim director to lead the newly created Animal Services Department.
Selah Gardiner was the volunteer coordinator in what used to be the Animal Control Division. She previously worked at the Humane Society for Greater Savannah, where she assisted with fundraising, shelter operations, staff training, relationship building within the community and the opening of a new spay/neuter clinic, according to an ACC news release.
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