Georgia's House Speaker Backing Pay Raise For Politicians
Georgia’s House Speaker, Mitch Ralston (R-Blue Ridge) is backing a pay-raise for state politicians that would nearly double what they make now.
Lawmaker pay hasn’t changed since 1999, according to the State Compensation Commission. Consumer prices have risen 59% since then, according to federal figures.
Base pay for the 180 House members and 56 senators would rise from $16,200 a year to $29,908.
The pay hike for the legislators will cost Georgia taxpayers an additional $3.2 million per-year.
The measure would not increase retirement payments for lawmakers, but Cantrell said if the General Assembly passes his bill, he will seek to increase retirement for lawmakers next year.
Battle Of Resaca Reenactment Returning
The Calhoun Times reported on Thursday that after a year off due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the annual Battle of Resaca reenactment is set to return this spring.
“The reenactment is Georgia’s oldest and largest event dating back to 1984. It draws national visitors to Gordon County each year,” this year’s hosting organization, the Georgia Division Reenactors Association, said in a release.
This year’s reenactment is planned for May 15 and 16, at the usual location on Chitwood Road in Resaca, just off Highway 41 below the Whitfield County line.
You can also learn more from the reenactment’s website HERE
Red Cross Blood Drive In Honor Of Zach Mejia
Zach was a fifteen-year-old Chattooga High School student that died after being stabbed in Lyerly in December of last year.
Here are the details on the upcoming blood drive:
Chattooga County Community Red Cross Club-In Honor of Zach Mejia-Trion Recreation-Gym
Trion Recreation Center
90 Dalton Street
Trion, GA 30753
04/14/2021 | 02:00 PM – 07:00 PM
March 5th Last Day To Donate For Community-Wide Baby Shower
Friday, March 5th is the last day to donate for the community-wide baby shower being hosted by Far Above Rubies Women’s Ministry.
Organizer Glori Boyd said on Thursday, “This community baby shower has really brought us together, and shown how much love Chattooga County has for its residents. These 31 mothers are going to have their socks blessed right off their feet.”
Boyd says that in addition to local residents volunteering to help with the shower, many have donated services, and businesses and churches and individuals have all donated money for the shower.
Northwest Georgia Counties Get Funding From GA DOT
“Engineers recently inspected the six bridges and recommended them for repairs,” said Georgia Department of Transportation (GDOT) District Six Engineer Grand Waldrop. “The project dovetails with our current I-20 resurfacing project through Carroll and Haralson counties.”
GDOT awarded $60 million in contracts throughout Georgia. District Six in Northwest Georgia received $15.9 million for five contracts for projects that will be getting underway in the coming months.
The bridge rehabilitation contract, with a March 31, 2024 completion date, was the largest contract awarded in District Six. Other contracts include:
- Resurfacing 7.4 miles of US 27 in Polk County. The contract was awarded for $4.2 million with a completion date of December 31, 2021.
- Resurfacing 3.5 miles of the SR 1 Loop in Floyd County. The project will cost approximately $1.7 million and be completed December 31, 2021.
- Resurfacing 6.8 miles of US 76 in Murray County. The $1.7 million project is slated to be completed December 31, 2021.
- Intersection improvements on US 27 in Walker County. The $862,655 contract is expected to be completed October 31, 2021.
Kemp Disputes "Worse Vaccination Rate" Rating
Numbers from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta show that Georgia remains among the worst in the nation in getting the vaccines to the people who want the shots.
But, the state says those numbers are not telling the whole story.
Vaccinations have increased in Georgia, as supplies of the vaccines increase week after week. The debate is whether the state is doing better at it – and doing better than other states – than the CDC numbers show.
The latest tally on the CDC website shows that just over 3 million doses of the vaccines have been delivered to Georgia so far, but just over 2 million doses have actually been administered.
“Unfortunately, Georgia is ranked near the bottom when it comes to the doses actually making it to people’s arms,” said Amber Schmidke, Ph.D. She was formerly with the CDC and is now a science writer.
Dr. Schmidke’s Daily Digest tracks how Georgia’s vaccination program is doing compared to other states, based on CDC data.
Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp said Wednesday that the CDC numbers don’t measure what’s really going on in Georgia.
“You don’t see on that website where Georgia’s at 60% of vaccinating people over 65 years of age, and the national average is 49%,” Kemp said. “We have got to target the population that gets hit the hardest.”
Schmidke said it’s “fantastic that the state is doing a great job at vaccinating seniors, and those that are in long term care facilities, but the problem remains that we still have over 900,000 doses in freezers, and we have people who want them who cannot get them.”
The numbers on the Georgia Department of Health website show the state has actually received less than 3 million doses, so far, and has administered 76% of them, so far.
Kemp said that the reason the CDC website is showing more doses delivered to Georgia than the state’s website shows is that the CDC is including the doses that went not only to the state public health agency, but also the doses that went directly to private providers in Georgia, such as pharmacies. The governor said it’s the private providers that are holding back hundreds of thousands of doses, not the state.
“The federal pharmacy program—we can’t control who’s holding second doses,” the governor said. “I don’t think they should be doing that, they should be giving those doses. The supply chain is caught up. They don’t need to do that anymore. They need to get shots in arms … But if you look at what the state’s controlling, at our sites, we get 94% of shots going into arms.”
Schmidke said it still leaves an issue “of not efficiently using the available supply.”
On Monday, some 1 million additional people in Georgia will become eligible to receive the vaccines, including teachers. The state believes the unused supplies of vaccines will likely be put to use, then, even as the state’s allotments of the vaccines are expected to increase, week to week.
Prescribed Burns Today Through March 7th At Little River Canyon
Favorable conditions will allow the National Park Service (NPS) to conduct two prescribed burns at Little River Canyon National Preserve this Thursday through Sunday, March 4th – 7th, along the CR 861 Unit and the Kral’s Complex Unit (see map below).
The 277 acre CR 861 Unit is along Cherokee County Road 861 to the east rim of the canyon down to the TVA powerlines. County Road 861 will remain open, but NPS staff will be posted at County Road 861/AL Highway 35 and at the TVA powerlines on County Road 861
to inform drivers to turn on headlights and drive very slowly for smoky conditions and for
their safety as well as that of firefighters.
The 365 acre Kral’s Complex Unit is along AL Highway 35 and AL Highway 176 south to Mushroom Rock. AL Highway 176 (Little River Canyon Rim Parkway) will be blocked at AL Highway 35 and Mushroom rock. Park visitors will still be able to access the Little River
Canyon Rim Parkway from the south end of AL Highway 176 at Eberhart Point and by
DeKalb County Rod 255 near Canyon View overlook.
NPS Fire Management crews may conduct a test-burn on Thursday, March 4th, and will conduct mop-up operations on Sunday, March 7th – expect smoke during these processes.
The primary goal of the prescribed burn is to reduce hazardous fuel loads, restore and maintain natural landscapes, and promote and improve the health of the park ecosystem. Our professional team of fire fighters are led by the Mississippi River Fire Zone, out of
Natchez Trace Parkway and assisted by NPS Fire Management crews from Cumberland Gap National Historical Park, Great Smoky Mountains National Park, and other federal agencies.
Arrest Report - Thursday March 4, 2021
Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Thursday March 4, 2021:
Ministry in Negotiations To Acquire Current Homeless Shelter
While the Hope Rebirth Homeless Shelter is closing its doors, the building will still be put to good use, if all goes according to plan.
Currently a Ministry, Community Resource Center of Chattooga is in negotiations to acquire the former North Summerville Elementary School. While they have not spoken of specific plans, Community Resource Center of Chattooga plans to expand on current resources.
Georgia National Fair To Return In 2021
After the Georgia National Fair was canceled last year due to the pandemic, officials have announced that it will be returning this year.
The move last year was done to comply with COVID-19 precautions and was a hit financially to many vendors as the fair employs about 300 part-time employees every year. It was the first time in 30 years the event did not take place.
Officials say the 32nd Georgia National Fair will take place October 7-17, 2021.
It will return to the Georgia National Fairgrounds in Perry.
The fair says there will be family fun, free entertainment, yummy fair food and new surprises that will be announced at a later date.
No information on how COVID-19 guidelines will be upheld has been announced at this time but it is expected to come in the future as the date draws near.
Commissioner Looking For Help At Convenience Centers
Chattooga County Commissioner Blake Elsberry is looking for some help at the convenience centers in the county. The centers are the remote dump sites that are located around the county for residents to bring their trash in for disposal. Elsberry says that the jobs are part-time and applications can be picked up at the Chattooga County Commissioner’s Office at 10102 Commerce Street in Summerville. If you have questions, you can call the commissioner’s office at 706-857-0700.
Chattooga Kindergarten Registration Coming Up Later This Month
Chattooga County Kindergarten Registration for the 2021-2022 school year will take place later this month.
Registration for Leroy Massey, Menlo and Lyerly will be held on March 23rd from 8 AM until 3 PM at the Chattooga County Enrollment Center, located at 286 Maple Drive in Summerville. Another registration opportunity will be on May 10th from 8 AM until 3 PM.
Children registering for kindergarten must turn 5 years-old before September 1, 2021.
Here is what you need to register your child:
- Proof of residence (Utility bill, Rent/lease agreement, Notarized Residence Affidavit)
- Driver’s License or picture ID of parent/guardian that is enrolling the child.
- Birth Certificate
- Social Security Card
- Proof of Immunization (3231)
- New Eye, Ear, Dental Form (3300)
- Custody papers when applicable
Chattooga Sheriff Talks About Litter Issues
We have all seen it – litter along the roadways in Chattooga County. If you think it seems like the litter problem has gotten worse since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, you may be right according to Chattooga County Sheriff Mark Schrader.
Sheriff Schrader says that because of the COVI-19 pandemic, his office has not been able to take inmates out of the jail to do litter pick-ups around the county. Also, the sheriff says that because of a reduced number of beds and quarantine requirements, the Chattooga County Jail is currently mostly housing inmates that cannot be classified for work detail because of the charges they face or their criminal history.
Last week, the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Department started back up with litter patrol, but the sheriff says “It’s going to take a long time to catch up.” The sheriff said earlier this week inmates picked up over 1,200 pounds of trash and only made if half-way down Rocky Hollow Road.
The sheriff said, “We are in the process of trying to organize a ‘Clean up Chattooga campaign’ where inmates and citizens can pick up and the sheriff’s department will collect what’s been picked up and dispose of it.
Sheriff Schrader says that he is very appreciative to the citizens of Chattooga County who have taken it upon themselves to pick up trash along the roadways over the past several months.
THC Manufacturer Could Spur Industry In Chattooga County
– Photo Credit: Remedium Life Sciences of Georgia
The Northwest Georgia Joint Development Authority (NWGJDA) says that the partnership between the Town of Trion, Chattooga County, the NWGJDA and Remedium Life Sciences of Georgia could spur additional economic development and industry as plans move forward for Remedium to build a low-THC oil producing facility in Trion.
“Georgia’s Hope Act” created a safe and effective medical cannabis program for qualified patients in Georgia. The act established the Georgia Medical Cannabis Commission to oversee the program and authorized the commission to award six licenses to companies for in-state cultivation and manufacturing of low-THC oil. Included in this legislation was language encouraging companies to select Tier 1 and Tier 2 counties for their facility locations.
Jeff Mullis, who serves as the state senator for Georgia’s 53rd District and as the CEO of the NWGJDA says, “The Town of Trion, Chattooga County and Northwest Georgia are fortunate to be involved in the application process, having partnered with Remedium Life Science of Georgia. In fact, Chattooga County is one of only three Tier 1 counties north of I-20 and prior to COVID-19 reported the highest unemployment rate in the state at 12.2%.”
Mullis points out the significance of an economic development project of this size in a rural community that is expected to produce an initial 50 jobs. Mullis says that Remedium has already donated over $200,000 to local families and the company has agreed to a profit-share arrangement with the Town of Trion and Chattooga County which could generate up to $1 million annually to support education and public health programs throughout the community.
According to Remedium’s website the company will be, “Utilizing cutting-edge technology and equipment in our state-of-the-art facility, will allow us to produce safe and effective treatments with efficiency while ensuring access to patients statewide. We specialize in researching and developing broad spectrum to indication specific treatments and partner with physicians and patients to deliver unique results.”
Calhoun Police Seek Public's Help Identifying Car Break-In Thieves
The Calhoun Police Department is asking the public’s help in identifying two suspects who they believe have been breaking into automobiles. The two men in these photos located below are wanted for questioning in connection with entering auto’s on W.C. Bryant Parkway. The suspects are driving a small, black SUV, make, model and tag number is unknown.
Calhoun Police say, “Suspects breaking into cars are looking for cash, credit cards, firearms, electronic devices such as, cellphones, laptop computers and GPS units. When leaving your vehicle unattended, leave nothing in plain view for others to see. Don’t leave computer and cellphone chargers in plain view, suggesting those items are in the vehicle. While exiting your car, watch for suspicious persons hanging around and report them to 911.”
Although the pictures give little to go on, should anyone recognize the suspects, contact Lt. David Nelson at 706-602-5774 or email, firstname.lastname@example.org
Georgia Power Joins In Plan For Electric Vehicle Charging Stations
With an increase of electric vehicles (EVs) on Georgia roads every day, Georgia Power is committed to assisting customers with access to efficient and reliable charging options. Southern Company, the utility’s corporate parent, today announced plans to join other utilities across the South, Midwest, Gulf Coast, Central Plains and mid-Atlantic to enable EV drivers’ seamless travel through a coordinated network of Direct Current (DC) Fast Chargers.
This effort, called the “Electric Highway Coalition,” represents an unprecedented level of coordination to increase charging options along major highway routes from Texas to Washington, D.C., and provide easier access to environmentally friendly vehicle options for drivers.
“As the sixth largest market nationally for EV fast charging, Georgia Power is committed to continuing growth of EV infrastructure across the state and providing increased access to customers looking to drive electric,” said Nicole Faulk, senior vice president for customer and corporate services. “As Southern Company’s largest subsidiary, our commitment plays a significant role in the increasing growth of electric vehicle adoption, and the connection of communities across Georgia and the country.”
Working with the Georgia Public Service Commission, the company has installed 49 DC fast chargers in locations statewide and is investing $6 million over three years in fast-charging infrastructure across Georgia. The installation represents the newest technology in EV fast chargers, offering charging speeds up to 125kW – adding 100 miles in 12 minutes – dual dispensers and power sharing capabilities to maximize the number of ports that can be deployed and still receive an optimal charge.
Additionally, the company has partnered with Cox Automotive Mobility to complete one of the largest EV charging single property installations in the southeast at the Pivet Atlanta facility near Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport. Georgia Power also supports 24 charging stall stations through Electrify America, Tesla and the EVgo Fast Charging Network. These investments further enable electric vehicle adoption and the connection of communities across the country.
Last year, Georgia Power announced it will electrify portions of its vehicle fleet as part of Southern Company’s plans to convert 50 percent of its system fleet vehicles across the auto/SUV/minivan, forklift and ATV/cart/miscellaneous segments by 2030. The internal fleet goal is part of a larger focus on electrification of the transportation industry and the company’s commitment to expanding zero-emission electric vehicles and clean transportation options.
Now offered by most major manufacturers, EVs continue to advance in range, performance and features. In addition, EVs benefit the environment with zero direct emissions, specifically improving air quality in urban areas, have a lower cost of ownership than petroleum vehicles and, with their domestic energy source, promote local jobs.
EV Resources for Customers
In addition to developing public charging infrastructure, the company is committed to explaining the benefits of EV ownership and making the decision to switch easier than ever by providing customers with the resources they need to learn more about the benefits and potential savings of driving electric. By visiting www.GeorgiaPower.com/EV, customers have access to information on:
- buying an electric vehicle,
- understanding electric vehicle options,
- charging an electric vehicle,
- charging locations,
- electric transportation news, and
- frequently asked questions.
Georgia Power also offers EV charger rebates for business and residential customers, an online calculator to help customers find out how much driving electric may save them and a special rate for EV customers. The company’s Plug-in Electric Vehicle rate offers lower prices from 11 p.m. – 7 a.m. to encourage nighttime EV charging.
Mullis Supports Bill Limiting Mail-In Voting And Other Voting Restrictions
State Senator Jeff Mullis, who represents several counties in Northwest Georgia -including the largest portion of Chattooga County – signed on to sponsor Senate Bill 241 this week. The bill would severely limit who is eligible to vote by mail, require applications to be made under oath with additional ID requirements and require some ballots to have a witness signature and include a photocopy of ID to be counted.
Currently, Georgia is one of 34 states that does not require an excuse to vote by mail and one of 19 states that conducts signature verification of absentee applications. Only two states, Alabama and Arkansas, require photo ID to be submitted with the actual ballot.
Under this proposal, only voters who are required to be absent during in-person voting periods, work in elections, are disabled, are “required to remain on duty” at work when their workplace is a polling place, observe a religious holiday that conflicts with the election day or are older than 65 would be allowed to vote by mail. To apply for a ballot, you would have to list your reason and swear under oath everything is true or correct, plus add your driver’s license number or state ID number and date of birth.
All but three Republicans in the Georgia Senate supported the bill. Senator Mullis said after the vote on Tuesday: Voters all across the state have reached out, urging members of the General Assembly to take action to address the issues they witnessed on and after the November election. These concerns deserve to be treated seriously and the Senate has already acted swiftly and passed numerus bills that directly impact several of the improprieties brought to our attention. SB 241 offers a comprehensive approach that addresses many of the key areas that citizens have requested we act on including absentee ballots, transparency in the tabulation process, streamlining the fraud reporting process, and more. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of this bill and will do all I can to advance the bill through the legislative process.”
The next step for the bill will be the Senate Rules Committee, followed by a vote before the full Senate. Senator Mullis is chairman of the Senate Rules Committee.
You can read the full text of SB 241 here: https://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/6000
GPB contributed to this report
AAA Auto Club School Safety Patrol Celebrates 100 Years
AAA is proud to celebrate its School Safety Patrol program’s centennial anniversary. For 100 years, Patrollers around the world have provided school-aged children an extra sense of safety and security when going to and from school. The program and its more than 440 Lifesaving Award recipients have contributed to the steady decline of U.S. student pedestrian (ages 5–14) deaths—a 24% decrease since 2010.
“AAA’s School Safety Patrol program is the world’s largest school-based safety program. We could not be prouder of the thousands of young men and women annually who dedicate their time before and after school each day to ensure the safety of their classmates,” said AAA President and CEO, and former Patroller, Marshall Doney. “This community program teaches safety and leadership skills to ensure our youngest generations are making smart decisions. I can attest first hand. The important pedestrian and traffic safety measures I learned as a Patroller had a profound and lasting impact on my career.”
Created to make schoolchildren safer while walking to school, the program has grown-up and matured with the times while remaining steadfast to its mission to provide a safer environment and leadership opportunities for millions of schoolchildren. The training that Patrollers receive instills safety sense beyond street crossings, including bus and car drop-offs, monitoring hallway congestion, and teaching Patrollers invaluable leadership skills. The famous Patroller belt has seen change, too, going from white to neon orange to today’s fluorescent green called ‘Lectric Lime.
“Patrollers direct children, not traffic. Their focus is on helping students be safe where traffic is concerned,” said Montrae Waiters, spokeswoman, AAA – The Auto Club Group. “Their actions save lives. Patrollers serve as role models in schools across the country.”
For some students, becoming a Patroller is inspired by wanting to help others and the privilege to wear the ‘Lectric Lime belt and badge proudly. For others, it is also a tradition passed on from generation to generation, like 14-year-old Kayo Cook from Richmond, Virginia, whose uncle, grandfather, and great grandfather all proudly served as Patrollers.
“It taught me how to be a leader,” Cook said. “It’s always good to be able to help others.”
The belt may come off after fifth grade, but the leadership values and safety awareness have inspired many to pursue admirable careers, including the sitting president.
Other notable Patrollers include Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton, astronauts, governors, members of Congress, Supreme Court justices, Olympic medalists, and authors, like Diary of a Wimpy Kid Jeff Kinney. Many Patrollers now serve as educators, executives, and community leaders. Some, like Karen Guilbeault, enter law enforcement. Guilbeault rose to become the first female captain in the Cranston, R.I., police department and their first to graduate from the FBI’s National Academy in Virginia.
“Being a patroller helped me get involved in community service and gave me a sense of belonging and instilled self-confidence,” said Guilbeault. “It opened so many doors for me and formed my interest in going into law enforcement.”
The 2020–21 school year, different as it may be, boasts 679,000 Patrollers in 35,000 schools in the United States. The legacy doesn’t stop here, however. Over the last 100 years, interest in and excitement for the program have spread around the world. The AAA model has been adopted in at least 30 other countries, including England, France, Germany, the Netherlands, and New Zealand.
Since 1920, AAA provides various equipment and education materials to Patrollers, including reflective belts, patrol badges and training resources.
To learn how to bring the AAA School Safety Patrol to your school, email AAASchoolSafetyPatrol@acg.aaa.com.
Fire Departments Called Out For Chimney Fire
Local firefighters responded to a call about a chimney fire on Tuesday night.
The fire broke out in the area of Halls Valley Drive in the Northeastern part of Chattooga County. Trion firefighters were able to stop the fire from spreading into the main structure of the home. The Summerville Fire Department and Hays Correctional Fire Department also responded to the scene.
As the winter season comes to a close, those who use wood-burning stoves and fireplaces are reminded to regularly inspect their chimneys and flues.
According to the latest statistics available, there are over 25,000 chimney fires per year in the US that are responsible for approximately 125 million dollars in property damage.
– Pictures from Trion Fire Department Facebook page.
Arrest Report - Wednesday March 3, 2021
Here is the latest arrest report from the Chattooga County Sheriff’s Office for Wednesday March 3, 2021: