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.
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.
Athens lawyer Bill Overend announced today that he's running for the Athens-Clarke County Commission District 7 seat, representing part of Five Points and Macon Highway.
Overend—a former Flagpole staffer who ran for ACC Solicitor General in 2006 and has served as chairman of the ACC Democratic Committee and on the Athens Downtown Development Authority board—said that he believes the local government doesn't do enough to anticipate challenges or act to solve them, rather than endlessly studying the issue.
The full text of his announcement is below:
Photo Credit: House Photo Office
Newly elected state Reps. Deborah Gonzalez (D-Athens) and Jonathan Wallace (D-Watkinsville) issued a joint statement today condemning Clarke County Sheriff Ira Edward's policy of detaining inmates so they can be deported.
It came to light in December that the sheriff's office had quietly changed its policy in July and begun, at Immigration and Custom Enforcement's request, detaining inmates that ICE says are undocumented immigrants for up to 48 hours past the point when they'd otherwise be released so ICE can pick them up and deport them.
The policy change met with harsh criticism from progressive and immigrants' rights groups, to which Wallace and Gonzalez have added their voices:
Photo Credit: Athens-Clarke County Police Department
Public schools in Clarke and Oconee counties will be closed again Thursday, as any snow that melted and did not evaporate today will refreeze overnight, making roads treacherous.
Both the Georgia Department of Transportation and Athens-Clarke County government said crews have been working day and night to clear the roads, but warned people to stay home.
The ACC Police Department said officers had worked 84 wrecks today as of 3:45 p.m.
The Oconee County Sheriff's Office posted a similar, if more humorous, warning on Facebook:
Both the Clarke and Oconee county school districts announced Tuesday night that schools will be closed Wednesday in anticipation of possible snow early this morning. The University of Georgia delayed opening before calling off classes entirely.
The National Weather Service has issued a winter weather advisory for central Georgia (including Athens) until 10 a.m. Wednesday. There is a 70 percent chance of precipitation, with a predicted low of 23 degrees. One to two inches of snow is possible.
"Plan on difficult travel conditions, including during the morning commute on Wednesday," the advisory says.
Gov. Nathan Deal has declared a state of emergency in 83 counties, including Clarke. Non-essential state employees are not expected to report to work on Wednesday.
Photo Credit: Jessica Silverman
Lovers of funky tapestries and eclectic novelties will be saddened to hear Junkman’s Daughter’s Brother, located on West Broad Street, is officially closing as soon as the last of the merchandise sells.
However, it’s not a retirement or sudden urge to relocate that’s shutting down the shop—it’s that rent is going by 56 percent. Owner Mark Gavron said no one approached him with an opportunity to re-sign his lease. One day, he said, a man came in and casually asked if Gavron was moving locations, since he’d seen the building was available on Craigslist. Gavron said this was the first he had heard of the news.
“It’s OK, it just puts me a year ahead of my planned retirement,” he said.
It's true: Everyone's favorite homophobic-yet-delicious fast-food chicken chain is coming to downtown Athens.
Rumors that Chick-Fil-A would move into the prime space at the corner of Broad Street and College Avenue most recently occupied by burger chain Five Guys have been confirmed by documents filed with the Athens-Clarke County Planning Department.
The building is in the downtown historic district, and Chick-Fil-A has applied for permission to make changes to the facade:
Photo Credit: Nicole Adamson/file
More than a dozen inmates at the Clarke County Jail have been turned over to Immigration and Customs Enforcement since the Clarke County Sheriff's Office reversed its policy in July and started holding undocumented immigrants for ICE.
The Red & Black reported that the reversal came about because of "changes to the Department of Homeland Security’s policy."
“In light of these changes, and in keeping with our role and responsibility for community safety with respect to the detention of individuals with outstanding warrants, we now recognize ICE detainers that are supported by a warrant for arrest or warrant for removal or deportation,” Captain Hayden Hodges of the Sheriff’s Office said in a statement.
At ICE's request, the sheriff's office will now detain inmates at the local jail for up to 48 hours after they're scheduled to be released. ICE has made 17 such requests and picked up 13 inmates, Hodges told Flagpole.
Photo Credit: Matt Hardy/file
A Madison County woman was sentenced to 25 years in prison for hitting a killing a University of Georgia graduate student and another cyclist while driving intoxicated and distracted, according to the Athens Banner-Herald.
Judge Eric Norris sentenced Whitney Baker Howard, 32, to a total of 31 years. She will serve the last six on probation. Howard was convicted of two counts of felony vehicular homicide and several other charges in October.
Howard's SUV crossed the center line on Athena Drive while answering her phone is September 2016 and hit Ashley Block and Mitchell Enfinger, killing Block and seriously injuring Enfinger.
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