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Blog Topic: Government

  • In the Loop: Everything You Wanted to Know About SPLOST but Were Afraid to Ask

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    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.

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  • In the Loop: CVB: Visitors Spent $330M in Athens Last Year

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    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.

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  • In the Loop: Athens-Clarke County Appoints First Inclusion Officer

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    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.”

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  • In the Loop: Now's Your Chance to Comment on High-Speed Rail Through Athens

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    A map of the three proposed routes. The "greenfield alternative" through Athens is in green.

    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.

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  • In the Loop: VIDEO: What's in SPLOST 2020?

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    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.

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  • In the Loop: Athens-Clarke County Reorganizes Animal Control

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    The organizational chart for the new Animal Services Department.

    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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  • In the Loop: Former Athens Judge Blocks Georgia Abortion Law

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    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.

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  • In the Loop: ACC Announces Plans to Redevelop Bethel

     

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    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.”

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  • In the Loop: 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.

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  • In the Loop: 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.

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