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August 31--  The Toombs County school system has a new superintendent.

After an extensive search which attracted more than 40 applicants, the Toombs County school board voted Friday to hire Dr. Kimberly Corley, the principal of Lyons Primary School, to succeed Dr. Kendall Brantley who is retiring after more than 20 years as superintendent.

{mosimage}Dr. Corley is a graduate of Toombs County High School and has been with the system for nearly 25 years.  She has been a teacher at Lyons Junior High School and at Lyons Elementary where she also served as counselor and assistant principal.  Other jobs include counselor at Toombs County High School and test coordinator for the school system.

"It's a tremendous challenge that was not even considered without a lot of thought and a lot of prayer.  I wanted to do everything I can to lead our school system.  I'm a parent, I graduated from this school system, my children have graduated and I have one child who is still here.  I want to support our school system and our parents and the students who are here," she said.

Dr. Corley says she's under no illusion that she can fill the shoes of Dr. Brantley whom board members said Friday has left his mark on every part of the school system.

She says her advice to parents is the same as it's been throughout her career, "Get involved, be supportive and let's work together as a team so we can all be successful for our students.  If we do that, we can be the very best and the very brightest."


Welcoming Dr. Corley to her new job are school board chairman Daniel Caraway and (L-R standing) school board members Rahn Milligan, Wayne Kirkley, Darriel Nobles, Duane Tomlin, Jonathan Holland, Russ Benton and outgoing Superintendent Dr. Brantley.

Dr. Corley assumes her duties September 1.  Her assistant principal at Lyons Primary, Dr. Deanna Stoddard, will oversee the school until a permanent replacement is named, Dr. Corley says.

August 29-- The Southeastern Technical College Board of Directors welcomed a new member and congratulated a former chair at its August meeting.

{mosimage}Representing Johnson County, Donnie Sweat was sworn in by Don Wilkes at the meeting on STC’s Vidalia campus.

After Sweat took the oath, Southeastern Tech President Dr. Cathryn Mitchell (right) presented former chair Erma Jenkins with a “token of appreciation for the great job she did last year serving as our chairman.”{mosimage}

“Erma’s a very busy lady, but she really has put a lot of heart, time, and effort into Southeastern Technical College,” said Mitchell. “She was there all the way through the merger, so we really, really appreciate it.”

Jenkins, who represents Emanuel County, was succeeded as chair by Martin Moses, representing Montgomery County.


August 29--  Five local citizens are nominees to serve on the board of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce for the 2013-2015 term. They are:

Debbie Holley, Allcare Pharmacy and Healthcare Services
Ginger Morris, Vidalia City Schools
Cassie Neal, First United Methodist Church of Vidalia
Lynn Rowland, City of Lyons
Tim Truxel, Dot Foods

August 28--  The Internal Revenue Service has filed yet another tax lien on Montgomery County Commissioner John Carpenter.

The lien was filed Monday for tax years 2006 and 2007 for back taxes totalling $2,755.85.

A previous lien was filed against Commissioner Carpenter in 2006 for failure to pay federal income taxes in 1993, 1995, 1996, 1998, 1999, 2000 and 2001.  The IRS says Carpenter owes a balance of $281,673.95 for those seven years.

The commissioner also has liens against him for failure to pay Georgia income taxes totalling $27,621.34 for years 1998, 2000, 2002, and 2003.  

Carpenter was re-elected in the July 31st primary by 28 votes over challenger Sharon Strickland who earlier had challenged his eligibilty to run because of his tax delinquency.

Montgomery County Election Supervisor Ruby Nell Sanders held a hearing in the case and ruled that Carpenter was eligible to run because his case has not been finally adjudicated in court.

August 28--  The Toombs County Development Authority is offering TUMI Luggage assistance to expand the company's distribution center in Vidalia.

At a called meeting Monday, the Development Authority board agreed to provide a half-million dollars over a five-year period to keep TUMI jobs in the county.

In return, the Development Authority wants assurances that TUMI will invest at least $1,750,000 to increase the size of its current distribution center by nearly 80,000 square and a guarantee that TUMI will employ at least 200 people during each year of the five-year period.

Vidalia TUMI manager Richard Lawrence is expected to present the offer to the corporate home office in New Jersey in early September. 

August 27--  The Vidalia-Area Crimestoppers are offering rewards for information in local crimes.

The board voted Monday to authorize a $500 reward in the theft of more than $10,000 worth of gas from the Vidalia City school system.  The thief used a gas card stolen from a school bus and made the purchases from Gay Oil in June and July.  In another case, tools valued at more than $1,800 were stolen from two school system maintenance vehicles.

The board also approved a $500 reward in two burglaries.  Police say tools valued at $10,000 were stolen from Rhodes Electric at the J.D. Dickerson Primary School renovation work site in June and July.  Rhodes Electric will match the $500 Crimestoppers' reward.

If you have information about any of these thefts, call Crimestoppers at 1-866-439-6313.  You do not have to give your name and the cash reward will be paid if your information leads to an arrest in the case. 

Being prepared is the best defense against disaster

Now is the best time for people to get ready for the next emergency because no one knows whether it will occur in their home, their community or across the United States.  Don’t know where to start? The three keys to being prepared are to build a kit, make a plan and be informed.

An emergency preparedness kit should be stored in an easy-to-carry container that you can use at home or take with you in case you have to evacuate. It should contain a three-day supply of water (one gallon, per person, per day), non-perishable food, a flashlight, battery-powered or hand-crank radio, extra batteries, a first aid kit, a 7-day supply of medications, a multi-purpose tool, sanitation and personal hygiene items and copies of important personal documents.

The Red Cross also recommends having at least two weeks worth of supplies at home. The Red Cross Store has items available for a kit, ranging from a hand-crank radio to a fully-stocked deluxe emergency preparedness kit.

All members of a household should work together on an emergency communication plan. Each person should know how to reach other members of the household. The plan should also include an out-of-area emergency contact person, and where everyone should meet if they can't go home.

To be informed, you should know what types of disasters are most likely to occur where you live. For those who live in hurricane-prone areas, the American Red Cross Hurricane app is a great place to start. It is also important to take a first aid and CPR/AED course—a vital component of disaster preparedness in case emergency help is delayed. Smart phone users can download the new American Red Cross First Aid app so they’ll have information on what to do for everyday emergencies right in their hands. 

The Red Cross also has programs geared toward businesses. Red Cross Ready Rating is a free, web-based program that helps businesses, organizations and schools become better prepared for emergencies. Members complete a self assessment of their current readiness level and receive immediate, customized feedback with tips to improve.

Ready When the Time Comes is a program that trains employees from corporations and mobilizes them as a community-based volunteer force when disaster strikes.

No one can predict where or when the next disaster will strike, but getting ready now can help save lives when the time comes.

Additional Information about the American Red Cross Hurricane app and how to get it.

Be ready for severe weather with Hurricane app by American Red Cross. Monitor conditions in your area or throughout the storm track, prepare your family and home, find help and let others know you are safe even if the power is out – a must have for anyone who lives in an area where a hurricane may strike or has loved ones who do.

From your mobile phone, call "**REDCROSS" (**73327677) and we will send you a link to download the app to your phone or you can download them directly from the iTunes or Google Play app stores.


August 27--  After meeting several hours in executive session, the Toombs County school board is still considering its options in the selection of a successor to retiring school superintendent Dr. Kendall Brantley.

Five finalists were announced August 6th.  Dr. Brantley says the board is being "very deliberate" with the decision and it may not be announced until the board holds its next regular meeting September 13, if then.

Meanwhile, the board has approved downsizing of the new Toombs County High School in order to make more money available for building a new Toombs Central Elementary School.  

New plans for the high school call for 173,000 square feet, a reduction of 37,000 square feet which is expected to save more than $4 million in construction costs.

The board has also received a revised Toombs County tax digest from the county tax assessor which may call for an adjustment to the county's school tax millage rate.  A school board meeting which had been scheduled for August 30 to set the mil rate has been cancelled and a new date will be announced later, according to Dr. Brantley.


August 24-- The summer 2012 Practical Nursing class of Southeastern Tech graduated in a ceremony held this month in the Vidalia campus’s Tattnall Auditorium.

{mosimage}Photo (L to R): Cory Wickstrom and Kelly Carnes, both of Lyons; Kerri Dixon, Elizabeth Cannady, Carmen Spikes and Siani Sanders, all of Vidalia; Jaymie Perry of Hazlehurst, Jason Newton of Glenwood and Erin Graham of Hazlehurst.

 The class of nine received their nursing pins from instructors Donna Jean Braddy, Jennifer Corner, and Brooke Hinson after a short speech from Wickstrom recounting memories from the group’s time together.

“We have seen each other at our worst and at our best, we all know that we cannot change or fix everything,” said Wickstrom. “We’ve had to deal with family problems and trips to the ER, even on days when we had just gotten home from clinicals. But we did not let that stop us—we pushed forward and did not give up.”

Class members were joined by a crowd of family and friends, who, along with teachers and classmates, received their own praise from the graduates.

“We know we did not get to this moment alone,” said Wickstrom. “Thank you for standing beside us, letting us cry our eyes out, miss dinners and family events, and barricade ourselves in to study. Without your sacrifice, support, and encouragement this past year, we may not be standing in this room today.”

Corner, the Practical Nursing program director, presented the Director’s Award for highest grade point average to Spikes, though she credited all the students for their dedication and effort. Her confidence in their abilities is something she passed on to the class.

“Wherever life takes us and wherever we work, we will be great nurses and we will make a difference in each patient’s life we come into contact with because of the knowledge our teachers have bestowed on us,” said Wickstrom.




August 24--  It sounds like something that happened in Nazi Germany or the former USSR, but it happened in Virginia.  If you're alarmed that federal agents can show up at someone's home and haul them off because of a Facebook posting, you need to watch this commentary from The Rutherford Institute.  (Editor's note:  A circuit judge Thursday ordered the government to release this former U.S. Marine from custody.)



Brandon Raub and the Thought Police




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For nearly a week, Brandon Raub, a former marine, found himself incarcerated against his will in a psychiatric facility for posting political opinions and song lyrics on Facebook. When the government can incarcerate American citizens for merely exercising their First Amendment rights, argues John Whitehead in this week's vodcast, then we are truly living in frightening times.

On Target with John Whitehead ® is a video blog that provides viewers with Whitehead’s insightful, relevant and provocative take on popular culture and constitutional issues. Whitehead is considered by many to be a legal, political and cultural watchdog—sounding the call for integrity, accountability and an adherence to the democratic principles on which this country was founded. As Whitehead often remarks, “Anytime people find themselves under fire from both the liberal left and the conservative right, it means that that person is probably right on target.”

Audio versions of On Target with John Whitehead are available for download and for use by radio stations as MP3 files and online through The Rutherford Institute.


August 24--  A former U.S. Marine has been ordered released from a psych ward after the FBI confined him for postings on his Facebook page. The update is included in today's 24/7 from The Washington Times.

The 24 Seven

Texas judge warns of 'civil war' if Obama wins

Texas judge warns of 'civil war' if Obama wins

A Lubbock County, Texas, judge is asking for a tax increase to hire deputies for the inevitable civil war he believes would follow President Obama's re-election. "And we're not just talking a few riots here and demonstrations," said Judge Tom Head. "We're talking Lexington, Concord, take up arms and get rid of the guy." Read & Comment


Reagan deserves 'special place in hell,' Dem says

The Chicago Tribune

Reagan deserves 'special place in hell,' Dem says

Cook County Board President Toni Preckwinkle on Tuesday said former President Ronald Reagan deserves "a special place in hell" for his role in the war on drugs, but later she regretted what she called her "inflammatory" remark. Read & Comment


Ex-Marine Raub freed from Va. psychiatric ward


Ex-Marine Raub freed from Va. psychiatric ward

A former Marine who was forced into a psychiatric ward for anti-government Facebook postings has been freed from the hospital, according to a Circuit Court ruling Thursday. Judge Allan Sharrett dismissed the case against Brandon Raub, who had been detained by government officials and transferred to a VA Hospital in Salem, Va., earlier this week. Read & Comment


For Mormon special, NBC profiles gay, feminist, actor

Associated Press

For Mormon special, NBC profiles gay, feminist, actor

"Rock Center" news magazine producers thought it worthwhile to examine the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints on the eve of one of its members becoming the Republican nominee for president. Kate Snow profiles a gay person, a feminist and an interracial couple on their experiences within the church, and NBC finds a Mormon cast member of the Broadway show "The Book of Mormon." Read & Comment


Debate moderator was married to Obama official

The Daily Caller

Debate moderator was married to Obama official

The moderator of the lone October vice presidential debate was previously married to a top Obama official, an association both ABC News and the left-leaning Commission on Presidential Debates do not view as a conflict of interest. Read & Comment


Historically accurate model predicts Romney win

The Washington Times

Historically accurate model predicts Romney win

A University of Colorado economic model that has correctly predicted the last eight presidential elections shows Mitt Romney emerging as the victor in 2012. Read & Comment


Biden's history of blaming Republicans for rape

The Washington Free Beacon

Biden's history of blaming Republicans for rape

Vice President Joe Biden has a history of falsely and maliciously accusing Republicans of being responsible for rape. Read & Comment


24|7 Collections

Credible conservative: Principled Ryan has depth and breadth

Credible conservative: Principled Ryan has depth and breadth

Rep. Paul Ryan is a conservative with depth and breadth. Part policy wonk, part patriot, the Wisconsin Republican plays Washington hardball in a way that shows reverence for America's founding principles. Democrats respect him. Republicans admire him. Congress follows his lead. Read & Comment

Prime-time pick: Conservative Ryan solidifies Romney's team .

Romney to Reid: 'Put up or shut up' on taxes .

Gay power play over Chick-fil-A .

Politicizing Colorado: Tragedy turns into pitch for gun control .


Right Now 24|7

Ex-Marine Raub freed from Va. psychiatric ward .

For Mormon special, NBC profiles gay, feminist, actor .

Debate moderator was married to Obama official .

Historically accurate model predicts Romney win .

Biden's history of blaming Republicans for rape .

Report: Illegals get $4b a year in tax refunds .

Raub's lawyer petitions court for illegal detention .

Ryan: Cling to guns and religion? 'Guilty' .

Boxer: Maybe Republicans 'don't like their moms' .

California set to grant licenses to 400,000 illegals .

DNC guilty of 'discrimination against mothers’ .

Fluke, Longoria lead DNC assault on family values .

GOP platform backs Arizona immigration law .

Iran backs Assad with call for terror wave on West .

Judge rules Army can forcibly shave Hasan .

Michelle: Obama 'wasn't a big smoker' — of tobacco .

Day care workers arrested for toddler fight club .


August 24--  Starting in January shoppers in this area will start paying a penny more in sales tax to be used for road improvements.  That's because voters in the 17-county Heart of Georgia-Altamaha region approved the tax in the July 31st referendum.

Only two other regions approved the measure and Todd Long, Deputy Commissioner with the Georgia Department of Transportation, says the DOT will administer the program for the three regions who approved it.

"Certainly we had hoped for more, but now we have to turn the page and we've got to move forward with those who did pass it in 46 out of 159 counties," he says.

Long was in Vidalia this week briefing area city and county officials on how the program willl work.

"Local governments need to understand how the discretionary money is going to work, how the regional projects will work, how delivery will work and how the money will be collected.  This is the time to get in there and get your hands dirty and pull your sleeves up," he explained.

State officials estimate the region will fund $350 million in road projects over the next ten years.  The project list includes 753 local projects and 11 regional projects.

The first distribution of the sales tax dollars should start in March, 2013 and Long believes work could start soon thereafter.

"It's a pay-as-you-go system so you won't see all of them out in the first couple of a years.  It's going to be a steady stream over a ten-year period.  Some of these projects are very easy and there's not a lot of complicated engineering so I think you'll start seeing projects right away," he says.


August 22--  The Georgia Board of Education voted Wednesday to recommend the Montgomery County school board not be suspended.

The 45-minute meeting with Montgomery County school board members in Atlanta concluded a hearing which started last summer.  Back then the state board warned suspension was possible unless the school board corrected governance issues brought to light by local citizens and former school superintendent Dr. Charles Warnock.

In the past 12 months, the school system has been removed from probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools and voters have elected three new board members to take office in January.

Justin Pauley, a spokesman for the state board, said, "The state board of education voted unanimously to recommend to the Governor not to suspend with pay the Montgomery Board of Education.  They said they would like to see them establish some type of mentor relationship with another successful board and for existing board members to help work with incoming board members." 

STC Graduate Finds Success in Business, Ministry, Gospel

by Clarke Schwabe

August 22 -- It’s fair to say that Carmela Williams has enjoyed a good measure of success since her days on the STC-Vidalia campus.

{mosimage}After all, not everyone gets a personal invitation from Dr. Bobby Jones to sing in Nashville on one of his TV shows. Even fewer do this while holding down an office job and operating a ministry. Fewer still get a second invite from Jones.

But, succeeding under pressure and with several irons in the fire is nothing new for Williams.

In 1998, after Williams had her fourth child, she decided it was time to get back into school, and she jumped directly into the deep end.

“I took an overload of classes and worked through the summer,” said Williams. “I had class during the day and worked at the library at night.”

Williams, living in Lyons at that time, had no transportation and would ride with a friend who drove in from Baxley for classes. But despite this and the work load she’d taken on, Williams thrived.

She was a member of Collegiate Secretaries International and the National Vocational Technical Honor Society, and she became the president of the Student Senate. In 1999, she was named Southeastern Tech’s Georgia Occupational Award of Leadership recipient, an annual award given to the technical college’s best student.

“Carmela had what a lot of students do not have when they first walk in our doors: confidence,” said Gina Robison, STC’s dean of Business Technologies and Human Services, who was an instructor during Williams’s time at the college. “She was very confident and self-assured, and had exceptional public speaking abilities.  She was a joy to teach.”

“The support network [at STC] was crucial because of the life I had,” said Williams. “My instructors, Mary Alice Wilder and Gina Robison: very personal, very open and willing to help in whatever way they could. Helen Thomas was the one who helped me find additional resources so I could work. There’s no way I could’ve done what I’ve done without them.”

And Williams has done quite a bit. After being involved in a variety of community events for years, Williams and her husband Troy, married in 2003, decided to host one such event themselves. Becoming One Outreach Ministries (BOOM) began in 2010 with a bible study at the Vidalia Recreation Department, and in January 2011, they started Sunday services. Public response was strong from the start.

“The night before our first service we had absolutely nothing in the church, but by Sunday morning, we had everything we needed to have our first service,” said Williams. “Within six months of opening our doors, we had a fully furnished church that started at 900 square feet and grew to over 2500, so naturally, our phrase of praise is ‘BOOM! God moved just like that.’”

Professionally, Carmela stayed in education circles, working with Brewton-Parker College and Vidalia’s school system. This work eventually led her to the HR manager position at TWI Counseling, a family support service center with offices across Georgia. 

TWI Counseling’s CEO is Tony Wardlaw, eldest of the brothers who comprise the gospel group The Wardlaw Brothers. With this connection, Williams ended up back at Southeastern Tech for The Wardlaw Brothers’ album release party, where she got to sing with the host, Dr. Bobby Jones.

“It was crazy,” said Williams. “It was exciting. You grow up watching his show, so you kind of know how he flows. I mean, you look up to someone and you watch their show forever and you never really think you’ll get an opportunity to meet them. It really was crazy.”

Jones was impressed enough that he invited Williams to Nashville to be on “Bobby Jones Presents,” his show on the Impact Television Network featuring rising gospel singers. Her performance in July earned a return invitation for November, where she could be asked to go to Black Entertainment Television’s studios in Washington, D.C., for Jones’s other program, “Bobby Jones Gospel.”

But whether Williams makes it to Washington or not, from where she’s sitting—behind a manager’s desk, across the hall from the Wardlaw’s recording studio, and just down the road from her family and church—things look good regardless.


August 20--  The Georgia school board is expected to give the Montgomery County school board a reprieve this week.

The state board has a meeting scheduled with the Montgomery County board of education Wednesday afternoon at 4:30 in Atlanta.

Last summer the state board warned members of the Montgomery school board they could be removed from office unless action was taken to correct school board governance issues noted by a review team from the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS).

Earlier this summer SACS removed the Montgomery school system from probatiion, but noted work is still needed to improve communications with members of the community.  

School Superintendent Randy Rodgers believes the state board will support the findings of SACS and inform the board of that decision Wednesday.

Meanwhile, new faces will make up a majority of the school board in January and the lameduck board has voted to give the current school superintendent a new three-year contract. 

"The purpose that was communicated to me was to try to commit to some consistency as far as leadership in the system was concerned," Rodgers said about the board's four-to-one vote.  Outgoing member Jackson Posey voted against the contract.

Mr. Rodgers contract was due to expire next June.  The new contract took effect August 9th and will remain in effect until August, 2015.  It continues his salary at the current level of $105,500 and includes a car allowance and insurance benefits.

The superintendent says it's common practice for a school board to negotiate a new contract with a superintendent once there's less than a year left on the old contract.  He says he has no reason to believe there's any other reason to question the motives of the school board.

"I would be speculating if I said one way or the other.  I believe I can work with a new board.  That's not an issue as far as I am concerned.  I believe it was a situation that it was time to address my contract," he said.

Under terms of the new contract, a new board would have to continue to pay Rodgers if it decided to replace him, according to the superintendent.

"If someone has an axe to grind with me, they must have a reason.  I'm satisfied that my actions have been warranted and the actions that someone may like or dislike are not warranted," Rodgers said.

"I really want the opportunity to continue implementing the programs we're implementing.  I'm not ashamed that we are performing as well as we are academically and we're operating efficiently.  This school year is the first time in a number of years that we are operating financially in the black," he notes.


August 17-- The officers of the Toombs County FFA Chapter were part of the nearly 200 chapter officers representing twenty eight FFA chapters from across Georgia that attended the 2012 Chapter Officer Leadership Training Conference. 

The COLT Conference was held on July 17-19, at the Georgia FFA-FCCLA Center near Covington.  This year’s COLT theme was “Super Officers: The Call to Action.” The officers attended workshops that focused on teamwork, communication and professionalism. The students also began planning their chapter’s Program of Activities for the coming year and learned strategies for time management and creativity.  The officers were encouraged to make an impact in their school and community and gained ideas for member recruitment, fundraising, and promoting the FFA.   

“COLT Conference is an excellent way for chapter officers to kick-off their year of service,” says State FFA President, Dolly Melton. “We challenge them to work together and empower the other members of their chapter.”

{mosimage}The officers from the Toombs County  FFA chapter who attended the COLT conference were:  (L-R) Back Row- Clay Callahan, Mathew Manning, Matt Wilkins, Jared Morris, Westley Ricks, Front Row- Tiffany Reynolds, Breanna Mitchum, Vance Davis,  Sophia Sager, and Emma Owens.

The Georgia FFA Association is the third largest state association in the nation with more than 34,000 members. The National FFA Organization, formerly known as the Future Farmers of America, changed its name in 1988 to reflect the growth and diversity of agriculture. The mission of the FFA organization is to make a positive difference in the lives of students by developing their potential for premier leadership, personal growth, and career success through agricultural education.

August 17--  State School Superintendent Dr. John Barge this week went on record opposing passage of a constitutional amendment for charter schools.  Voters will vote on the amendment in the November general election.  Here's why Dr. Barge is against it.

“I fully support the continued creation of high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, but after careful consideration of what is best for all of Georgia’s students, I have decided to take a position in opposition to the constitutional amendment that will be on the Nov. 6 ballot.

Until all of our public school students are in school for a full 180-day school year, until essential services like student transportation and student support can return to effective levels, and until teachers regain jobs with full pay for a full school year, we should not redirect one more dollar away from Georgia’s local school districts – much less an additional $430 million in state funds, which is what it would cost to add seven new state charter schools per year over the next five years (the annual average of the Charter Commission that would be revived if the amendment passes).

I cannot support the creation of a new and costly state bureaucracy that takes away local control of schools and unnecessarily duplicates the good work already being done by local districts, the Georgia Department of Education, and the state Board of Education.  What’s more, this constitutional amendment would direct taxpayer dollars into the pockets of out-of-state, for-profit charter school companies whose schools perform no better than traditional public schools and locally approved charter schools (and worse, in some cases).

I trust our local school districts will continue to approve only high quality charter schools for Georgia’s students, and I am committed to working with all of our school districts to ensure that high quality applicants are not denied locally – including mediating between high quality charter school applicants and any local districts that are reluctant to approve them, as provided by existing Georgia law.”

More Information:

Georgia Public K-12 Education By the numbers 8.14.12.pdfGeorgia Public K-12 Education By the numbers 8.14.12.pdf

UPDATE: Superintendent Barge's position on the creation of high-quality charter schools has been consistent since his campaign for office in 2010. He has always said he supports charter schools, not bigger government (a new charter authorizer). See his answer and explaination at the Georgia Charter Schools Association survey (#4) and below.




August 17--  New federal rules are kicking in this year regarding meals being served in public schools.

Vidalia City Schools dietician Linda Collins says it's all because too many kids are overweight.

"When you realize one out of three children are obese, that's a very serious situation facing people down the road," she observes.

As a result, the emphasis this year is on smaller portions and more fruits and vegetables on lunchroom serving lines.

"We've not had a whole lot of reaction from anyone yet.  The students have to pickup a fruit or vegetable and they're doing that and that's the whole point, to reduce the amount of grains and meat that we eat," Collins says.

Collins oversees lunchrooms in all of Vidalia's school and hopes a better diet will help students in the classroom.

"It should improve their attention span and make them a healthier child.  Just to make them healthier overall is the main goal and to increase fruits and vegetables.  We all need to change our lifestyles in that area," she believes.

"We have really cut down on the frying.  We might fry once a week and that's considerably less that we used to do years ago.  We bake hashbrowns and we bake sweet potato fries.  We do a lot of baking and people just don't know that we're frying like we were," she says.


Collins briefed the Vidalia school board at their monthly meeting Tuesday night and passed around samples of the portions and types of foods being served.

At the same time, School Superintendent Dr. Garrett Wilcox reported each school must have two people on campus at all times who are trained on how to deal with problems associated with diabetes.

The board was also informed the system's bus lot and maintenance facility experienced a rash of breakins this summer. 

August 16--  Former congressional candidate Wright McLeod of Augusta issued a statement Thursday endorsing Lee Anderson in Tuesday's Republican runoff election for the 12th Congressional District seat.  McLeod lost by a slim margin to Anderson's opponent, Rick Allen of Augusta, in the July 31st primary.

"On Tuesday, I am voting for Lee Anderson, and I urge you to do the same.


My campaign was a natural expression of my life-long dedication to Service Over Self. Lee subscribes to this same principle. He has always been a servant of his constituents. He has never run for elected office to enrich himself, and he understands that votes are won by trust, hard work and principled leadership.


This Tuesday's run-off is important to voters in the 12th District. It's important to Georgia. And it's important to our Nation. With a man like Lee representing us in Washington, we can look forward to beating John Barrow and restoring American values.


Please vote for Lee Tuesday, August 21st."




August 15--  Four of Toombs County's six volunteer fire departments are now operating under the auspices of the county's Emergency Management Agency.

EMA Director Lynn Moore says the reorganization took effect August 1st and places fire departments in Normantown, East Toombs, South Thompson and New Branch under EMA.

He reports two other departments, those serving Cedar Crossing and the Marvin community, have decided to incorporate and operate independently.

{mosimage}Meanwhile, the Toombs County Commission voted Tuesday to allocate $14,000 in Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax money to pay for a used fire truck which is being assigned to the Normantown Fire Department.  Firemen Leon Hayes (left) and Robert Tillman are shown with the new vehicle.

The commissioners also voted to use $46,000 in sales tax revenue for striping of 28.5 miles of county roads and $2,000 for an ambulance radio.

Results of the annual county audit show the county has an on-hand balance of $7.5 million dollars which will be used for county operations the next 12 months.  Auditors say it costs an average of $700,000 a month to run the county and Chairman Buddy West noted the county has no need to borrow money to meet year-end expenses which he said was common practice a few years ago.

The Commission is also starting a search for a new county manager to succeed Doug Eaves who resigned earlier this year.  Commissioners Jeff McCormick and Louie Powell are leading the effort.  Powell says they will coordinate the search with incoming chairman Blake Tillery and commissioner Wendell Dixon and will use referrals from the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia as part of the effort. 

August 15--  Toombs County County Sheriff Junior Kight reports arrests in connection with stolen property.

A 23-year-old man from Mount Vernon, Jonathan Lee Jordan, is charged with possession of stolen property and carrying a concealed weapon after he was caught on a stolen Kawasaki Mule which had been taken from David Thompson's Body Shop in Vidalia.

The sheriff also says 51-year-old Tony Lee Swain of Uvalda is charged with burglarizing the Cedar Crossing Store and that most of the stolen merchandise has been recovered.

August 15-- More than 100 industry representatives attended a pre-Request for Qualifications (RFQ) procurement briefing today –an initial step by Georgia DOT to introduce industry consultants interested in submitting qualifications for the Request for Proposals (RFP) short list.  The hour long briefing highlighted general roles and responsibilities of the agencies involved and upcoming steps in the process.

On July 31st, voters in three regions – Central Savannah River Area, Heart of Georgia and River Valley – successfully passed the largest transportation tax initiative in Georgia.   Estimated revenue collections are in excess of $1.8 billion in these regions and will fund 871 transportation projects for local citizens.  Nearly one-third of the state’s counties will benefit from much needed investments in transportation infrastructure.

“This is a great day for the residents of these three areas,” said Commissioner Keith Golden.  “It is really the first big step towards project reality.  We have a plan as a Department, and we know that we have a set of projects that can be completed for the citizens on time and on budget.  I think we have an opportunity to show how much can be accomplished with just one-cent more,” concluded Golden.

GA DOT is responsible for ultimate project delivery of all 871 projects, and is working to secure an overall program management consultant to specifically focus on TIA-related projects in the three regions.  Today’s briefing session was designed to share information on the procurement process.  The Department is scheduled to issue the RFQ on Friday, August 22nd

Information and materials from the briefing is posted on the web at and all communication is officially restricted as of August 15, 2012; however, interested parties may submit comments, questions or ideas via email to: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. for review prior to the August 22nd RFQ Issue.



{mosimage}August 14--  The Chief Judge of the Georgia Court of Appeals regaled Vidalia Kiwanians with stories from the bench at their Tuesday meeting.  Vidalia native Judge John Ellington is serving his third six-year term on the Court.

August 14--  The Candler County Hospital in Metter is having cash flow problems attributed to a new electronic billing system.

The Candler County Hospital Authority is applying for a $350,000 loan to help with the cash flow shortage until the billing system can be fixed, according to a report in the Metter newspaper.

Hospital administrator Stephen Shepherd told the authority the hospital patient load is satisfactory and that sufficient charges are being generated.

August 14--  Sales tax collections in Vidalia are stronger this year than last according to City Clerk Bill Bedingfield.

In his monthly report to the city council, Bedingfield notes collections of the Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax are up nearly ten percent in the first five months of 2012.  Monthly collections are averaging almost $170,000.

Likewise, collections of the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) are up more than eight percent with average monthly collections of nearly $172,000.

Bedingfield also reports collections are up nearly three percent in the local Hotel/Motel tax and just over one percent in alcohol tax revenue.

The city has also collected almost $5 million in city property taxes with only about one percent in 2011 taxes still unpaid.  Of the $5 million, nearly 77% goes to the Vidalia City School System.

In actions at the Monday night city council meeting, the councial agreed that Halloween in Vidalia will be observed this year on Tuesday night, October 30.

It also okayed the appointment of Tom Cato and Les Salter to the board of the Vidalia Onion Festival Committee and agreed to host a session of the Georgia Supreme Court in February, 2013.

The council will hold its September meeting in the new council chambers located in the newly opened Vidalia Municipal Annex and is considering an open house for the new facility just prior to the meeting.

August 13--  A 33-year-old Lyons man is facing drug charges after a weekend bust by Lyons police.

Chief Wesley Walker reports Marquis Cornelius Wright was arrested at his home at 216 East Columbia Avenue when officers smelled marijuana coming from the residence.

After an altercation with Wright, officers obtained consent to search the residence and found cocaine, scales, baggies and about $600 in cash plus a handgun.

Wright is being charged with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute, possession of a firearm by a convicted felon and obstruction of a law enforcement officer.

August 13--  The Panama City News-Herald reports that an Ailey woman was killed and her half-sister injured in a weekend auto accident in Panama City Beach, Florida.  The victims' parents are Terry Hall, Dietician at Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia, and his wife, Terri.  The injured woman was expected to be released from the hospital in Florida late Monday.

"PANAMA CITY BEACH — A Georgia woman was killed, another woman was injured and a Panama City Beach man was arrested following a Sunday morning wreck.

{mosimage}Robert Michael Dick III, 22, of Panama City Beach was traveling west on U.S. 98 near the Allison Avenue intersection when his 2009 4-door Hyundai struck a 2002 Hyundai Elantra being driven by Tiffany Kena Pruett, 30, of Ailey Ga., troopers wrote in a news release.

Pruett was injured in the accident and Pruett’s passenger, Kerri Ann Hall, 21, also of Ailey, Ga., was killed, troopers wrote. Pruett and Hall were not wearing seat belts, troopers added.

Dick’s vehicle collided with the rear portion of Pruett’s vehicle, forcing Pruett’s vehicle onto the grass median and subsequently rolling over and coming to its final rest on the median facing west, the news release stated.

Dick’s 2009 4-door Hyundai crossed both westbound lanes after impact and came to its final rest on the median facing north, troopers wrote.

According to FHP news release, Dick exited the vehicle after the impact and fled the scene on foot.

Jacob Moore of the Panama City Beach Police Department found Dick a half hour later, about a mile away, on Roy Williams Road, according to an arrest report. Moore noticed that Dick had injuries to his face, left hand and that his clothing was “soiled and wet,” the arrest report states. When he was approached by Moore Dick said he knew he should not have been drinking and driving and that the 2009 Hyundai belonged to his mother, the report states.

Dick had watery red eyes and a strong odor of alcohol on his breath, the report adds.

Officers returned Dick to the crime scene, then to Bay Medical Center for treatment, the report said.

Dick suffered a bruise on the upper left part of his cheek, hand injuries, and a bruise on his left shoulder consistent with the use of a safety belt, the report stated.

Dick told investigators that after he got off of work at about 11 p.m. Saturday he went to T.G.I. Friday’s and had a coke and whiskey to drink. He added that after leaving T.G.I. Friday’s he drank another coke and whiskey at Player’s Sports and Billiard Cafe, the report states.

Dick declined to take a field sobriety test, he declined to give a DNA sample but he did agree to a breathalyzer test, according to the report. The test results were .098 and 0.090. The legal limit is 0.08. Dick’s blood was taken at the scene and it will be tested as well, troopers wrote.

Dick told investigators that he did not remember the crash or any details of the crash and felt he “might have been drugged,” the report states.

Dick was wearing a seat belt and suffered only minor injuries, the news release said.

While directing traffic at the crime scene, Deputy J.M. Duggins of the Bay County Sheriff’s Office was struck by a 2006 Scion being driven by 22-year-old Lindsey Bobo, of Panama City Beach. Bobo was charged with driving around a traffic detour barricade, troopers wrote.

An earlier version of this story is below:

PANAMA CITY BEACH— A 21-year-old passenger died from car crash on U.S. 98 and Allison Ave around 3 a.m. this morning.

According to a news release from the Florida Highway Patrol, Kerri Ann Hall, 21, a resident of Ailey, Ga., was in the passenger seat of a 2002 Hyundai Elantra when driver and Ailey, Ga. resident Tiffany Kena Pruett, 30, was forced off the road as a result of being rear-ended by an intoxicated driver of another vehicle.

Pruett suffered injuries and Hall died in the incident, the news release said.

Neither woman was wearing a seat belt.

The driver of the other vehicle was Robert Michael Dick III, 22, of Panama City Beach.

According to a news release by FHP, Dick’s vehicle collided with the rear portion of Pruett’s vehicle, forcing Pruett’s vehicle onto the grass median and subsequently rolling over and coming to its final rest on the median facing west.

Dick’s 2009 4-door Hyundai crossed both westbound lanes after impact and came to its final rest on the median facing north, the news release stated.

According to FHP news release, Dick exited the vehicle after the impact and fled the scene on foot.

Panama City Beach Police Department found Dick on Roy Williams Road and returned him to the scene, then took him to Bay Medical Center for treatment.

Dick was wearing a seat belt and suffered minor injuries, the news release stated.

August 13--  The Toombs County school board's approval of a $32.9 million dollar budget for fiscal year 2013 holds the line on local school taxes, according to School Superintendent Dr. Kendall Brantley.

"The primary thing in local tax dollars is we're looking at $3.8 million dollars for our local budget. That's predicated on a millage rate of 11.5 mils which means there will be no tax increase in order to maintain the budget where it is," he says.

Dr. Brantley says one way the Toombs school system holds down operating costs in through a shorter school term.

"Our 160 days is equivalent to most system's 180 days.  We stay in class about an hour and a half longer than other systems," he reports.

No reductions in force or furlough days are included in the new budget and Dr. Brantley is hopeful the state will be in a position to maintain promised funding.

"State revenue is up by 7.4% as of the end of July.  I predict the state will be able to honor its obligations to us and we should be able to have a balanced budget at the end of the year," he hopes.

The Toombs County school board has a called meeting Thursday, August 30 at 6:30 to approve the school property tax rate for the year.

August 10-- Gov. Nathan Deal announced today that Georgia’s net tax collections for the month of July totaled $1.32 billion for an increase of $91 million, or 7.4 percent, compared to July 2011. For the month-ended July 31, gross tax revenue deposits totaled $1.8 billion — an increase of $53.5 million, or 3.1 percent, compared to July of the previous fiscal year.

The following changes within the various tax categories led to the overall net revenue increase in July:
Individual Income Tax: Individual Income Tax collections for July totaled $698 million — up from $656.5 million in July 2011 — for an increase of $41.5 million, or 6.3 percent.

The following notable components within Individual Income Tax account for the increase:
•      Individual Withholding payments were up $43 million, or 6.5 percent

•      Individual Income Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were up $8.25 million, or 22.8 percent
•      All other Individual categories, including Assessment payments, were up a combined $6.75 million

Sales and Use Tax: Net Sales and Use Tax collections for July totaled slightly less than $460.5 million — up from $446.5 million in July 2011 — for an increase of $13.85 million, or 3.1 percent. The monthly Sales Tax distribution to local governments totaled $396 million, which was an increase of $5.3 million, or 1.4 percent, compared to last year.

Corporate Income Tax: Corporate Income Tax collections for July increased $42 million, or 174.2 percent, over the previous fiscal year when refunds issued during the month outstripped tax revenues for a negative net collections total of $(24.0) million in July 2011.

The following notable components within Corporate Income Tax make up the increase:
•      Corporate Tax refunds issued (net of voided checks) were down $(36.0) million, or -73.4 percent

•      Corporate Estimated payments were up $8.75 million, or 68.2 percent

•      All other Corporate Tax categories combined for a decrease of $(2.75) million in July


August 10--  The Toombs County school board held it's regular monthly meeting Thursday night but made no decison on the selection of a new school superintendent to replace Dr. Kendall Brantley who is retiring.

Dr. Brantley says the board will hold a called meeting August 23rd to further consider the five finalists for the position.

"We really try to look into the background and be sure there's a good match between the candidates and our school system.  We try to look carefully at that and our board has been cautious in that regard," Dr. Brantley says.

The five are Dr. Kim Corley, principal of Lyons Primary School; Chuck Ellington, Treutlen County school superintendent; Dr. Ryan Flowers, an assistant principal at Vidalia High School and head of the Southeast Early College and Career Academy; Dr. Darrel May from the state Department of Education; and Dr. Shelli Tyre, an elementary school principal in Clinch County.


August 10--  A recount in the Republican Primary for the 12th Congressional District seat only gained four votes for Republican candidate Wright McLeod of Augusta.

That puts McLeod out of the August 21st runoff which pits frontrunner Lee Anderson of Grovetown against Augusta building contractor Rick Allen.

The winner will face incumbent Democrat Congressman John Barrow in the November general election.

Wright McLeod issued the following statement after the recount.

"Today, the recount we requested confirmed that Wright McLeod for Congress has fallen just short and we remain 580 votes behind. We hoped for a different result, but now we must accept the outcome.


I entered this race because I saw my Nation and my children's future in deep distress. That ailing condition will grow worse until we elect representatives who have the strength of character to say "No!" to wasteful spending, "No!" to greater taxation ,"No!" to increased government intrusion, and "NO!" to violating the Constitution. We must ensure this happens.


A Congressional primary is a "family affair". We scuffle, but we share the same ideals. All of us in the Republican family want to nominate a qualified candidate of high character so we can defeat John Barrow in November. I congratulate Lee Anderson and Rick Allen, one of whom will be that person.


Service above Self requires involvement where and when society requires.  I'm so thankful that my wife Sheri and our girls Collier, Maggie, and Grace were with me throughout the campaign. Together, we stride into the future with undiminished commitment, knowing that we have answered the call to serve.  


I am also very proud of how we conducted ourselves during this campaign. We fought hard, we fought fair, and we gave it our all. "Mission 1st" has been our motto from the beginning. We stayed true to the mission, and the mission will continue.


I thank you for your unfailing support."



August 10--  A former clerk at Lyons City Hall died Thursday afternoon in a Montgomery County traffic accident.

Norma Moore of Lyons was killed in a collision at the intersection of Highway 292 and Highway 15 near the Higgston First Baptist Church.  

Montgomery County Sheriff Clarence Sanders says her car was T-boned on the driver's side by a pickup truck travelling north on Highway 15.  The four occupants of the truck were uninjured as was the driver of another pickup truck which was sideswiped in the aftermath of the first collision.

Mrs. Moore retired from the City of Lyons in 2000.

August 10--  A Superior Court judge has turned down an appeal of the Montgomery County school board regarding it's firing of three teachers due to a reduction in force last year.

The school board's decision to terminate teachers Allie Rhodes, Lisa Parker and Marilyn Haymens was overturned by the Georgia Board of Education and prompted the school board to seek relief in the courts.

Oconee Judicial Circuit Judge Sarah Wall supported the state school board's contention that the Montgomery school board's decision was "arbitrary and capricious."

"They've got to have a policy and they've got to follow that policy and they didn't do that," says Vidalia attorney Macky Bryant who represented teacher Allie Rhodes.

"If they don't give you a reason as to how they're picking the people they're going to lay off, then there's no way to tell they're not being arbitrary.  They've got to have a plan and they never had one," Bryant says.

Two of the three teachers who were laid off, Parker and Rhodes, were rehired by the school system to work this school term before Judge Wall's decison.  County School Superintendent Randy Rodgers says, "The reason was we had positions open for which they were certified."

Rodgers estimates the judge's ruling in favor of the teachers will cost the school system up to $150,000 in back pay.

Rhodes attorney has another take on the rehiring.  "The fact they rehired her is probably a good move on the school board's part because it mitigates the damages," Bryant observes.

August 9--  The U.S. Department of Justice has approved the 2012 redistricting plan for Montgomery County.

In an August 2nd letter, the Civil Rights Division approved changes to the voting districts for the county school board and the county commission in accordance with the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

August 9--  Eighteen people will take part in the 2012-13 Leadership Toombs-Montgomery Class which begins August 23.

Class members this year are Sheila Adams, Josh Beck, Mary Bennett, Tyler Corley, Tonya Green, Terry Hall, Tina Hill, Val Holton, Wanda Kent, Ashley McIntyre, Tiffany Moore, Kareem Owens, Tim Quigley, Nicole Roberts, Al Ross, Krysta Rushing, John Underwood and Jessie Williams.

The program is designed to develop a future generation of leaders for the community.  It operates under the auspices of the Toombs-Montgomery Chamber of Commerce and is co-chaired this year by Cindy Williams and Blake Tillery.

August 9--  A court date has been set for the Local Option Sales Tax (LOST) dispute between the Toombs County Commission and the cities of Vidalia,  Lyons and Santa Claus.

The county wants to increase its share of sales tax distributions while the cities want to maintain the status quo.

Dublin Judicial Circuit Judge H. Gibbs Flanders, Jr. will hear the case at ten a.m., Tuesday, October 30th at the Toombs County courthouse in Lyons.

His decison will be final and will take effect January 1st. It will remain in effect for a ten-year period.

August 8--  Meadows Regional Medical Center in Vidalia is attracting phycian groups from Savannah and Dublin to provide services in the new Vidalia hospital.

Medical Center CEO Alan Kent reports the latest affiliations are with the six heart doctors who make up Cardiology Associates of Savannah.

"Our purpose is to give their patients an opportunity to be cared for in Vidalia in the hospital when they need imaging services or cardiac cath or hospitalization instead of having to go to Savannah to have those services provided there," he said.

"We also have been fortunate to partner with the two doctors of Dublin Urology and they also will be doing surgery and taking care of some of their patients here in Vidalia," he notes.

Kent says the focus is to provide people who need healthcare with services which preclude the need for them to go out of town.

As a result, Meadows Regional now employs nearly 800 people.

"We're up to 790 individuals considering all of our locations.  The overall opportunity to add to the strength of the hospital and to insure we're able to provide needed services will require more employees.  We have to be judicious because we have to maintain a strong financial position to weather Obamacare and the other healthcare issues these days, but I expect we will have more growth in the future," Kent believes.


August 7--  The school property tax rate in Montgomery County will increase slightly this year.

The county school board approved the increase at a called meeting Monday night according to School Superintendent Randy Rodgers.  The measure passed on a 3-2 vote with board member Lendle Hamilton voting against any increase in taxes and member Jackson Posey voting no because he said the increase was not enough to meet system needs.

"Whle we will not collect a penny more in taxes, our millage rate will go from 12.1 mils to 12.231 mils to generate the same amount.  The reason is our tax digest is down about $2 million from last year and we need to adjust the rate to generate the same amount of income," he reports.

The superintendent says the tentative budget approved by the board includes the deletion of four positions from the school system.  They are two para-professionals and two school bus drivers.

Rodgers says more significant school property tax increases are expected in the coming years and says a rate of 15 mils will be needed by July 1, 2015 in order to qualify for state equalization funding provided to low wealth school systems.

August 6--  After interviewing ten potential candidates over the past weekend, the Toombs County school board has identified five finalists to become the county's new school superintendent.

The five are Dr. Kim Corley, principal of Lyons Primary School; Chuck Ellington, Treutlen County school superintendent; Dr. Ryan Flowers, an assistant principal at Vidalia High School and head of the Southeast Early College and Career Academy; Dr. Darrel May from the state Department of Education; and Dr. Shelli Tyre, an elementary school principal in Clinch County.

Officials say one of the five will be named superintendent at a future meeting of the school board.  The next regularly scheduled board meeting is Thursday night.

August 6--  All of the school students in Treutlen County will be going to school under one roof this school term.

A ribbon-cutting Sunday afternoon officially opened the new $26 million dollar kindergarten through 12th grade building on Highway 29 north of Soperton.


(L-R) Treutlen County school board members Keith Edge, Leo Gillis, Chairman Alvin Heath, School Superintendent Chuck Ellington, Vice-Chairman Jeff Raiford and Demetria Noble.

School Superintenent Chuck Ellington says financing for the new school started years ago.

"Our local citizens approved three education local option sales taxes beginning in 2004, 2007 and this past March in 2012.  We also passed a bond referendum for $7.9 million which was coupled with over $18 million in advance funding from the Georgia General Assembly and the state Department of Education," he reports.

Their are also new principals at the school.  James Paulk will lead the middle-high school and says, "Walking around the building today we see our kids smiling in awe and they are just happy and they deserve it and it's awesome that Treutlen County is providing it for us, " he said.

The new elementary school principal is Forest Edge who says the faculty and staff are looking forward to the new school year in the new building.

"Everyone has been really positive in spite of all the work they've been having to do moving their classes and unpacking boxes.  They've been so supportive and I think it's fostered a sense of pride.  I've heard comments about how they like everything and how it's so much more kid-friendly," he said.


Superintendent Ellington says they're still looking at options on what to do with the old middle-high school and elementary school buildings in Soperton.  One thing being planned is locating the school system's central office in a portion of the old middle-high school facility.  The sports facilities at the former school will also remain in use. 

August 3-- MetLife executives say the company has completed its purchase of the upscale Reynolds Plantation golf resort on Lake Oconee, which has struggled for months with its finances.

MetLife said in a statement Thursday that the deal includes The Ritz-Carlton Lodge, six championship golf courses, four full-service marinas and nearly 5,000 acres of undeveloped golf and waterfront property about 80 miles east of Atlanta.

A bank-appointed receiver was hired last year to operate the clubs and market the community and undeveloped land.

The New York-based insurance and financial services firm did not disclose financial details of the deal. MetLife says it has a real estate portfolio of more than $60 billion, which is one of the largest in the U.S.

The company said Birmingham, Ala.-based Daniel Corp. will oversee Reynolds Plantation.

August 3--  A group that was organized to fight the penny sales tax for transportation referendum this past Tuesday in Georgia wants the legislature to repeal a penalty in the law for regions which voted against the tax.

Nine of 12 regions in the state voted "no" while three regions (our Heart of Georgia Altamaha region, Columbus and Augusta) voted "yes." Governments in the regions which voted "no" will have to put up 30% in matching funds for local road projects.  Governments in the regions which voted "yes" will only have to pay 10% in matching funds.

Here's the position being taken by the "Transportation Leadership Coalition."

The voters have spoken and T-SPLOST is defeated.  Unfortunately, the issues within the Transportation Investment Act of 2010 linger.  Lawmakers had the temerity to build in two (2) penalties clauses in House Bill 277 (HB277), "Transportation Investment Act of 2010" (TIA / T-SPLOST). 

The first penalty was threatened before the referendum was placed on the ballot.  If local election officials did not place the referendum on the ballot, the community would suffer a 30 percent (30%) penalty in funding for local transportation projects.  GDOT funding the county residents have already paid for in taxes.

Now that T-SPLOST is defeated, the second penalty kicks in.  The law stipulates that if the referendum is voted it down, as it was in 9 of the 12 regions, those 9 regions now suffer a GDOT funding penalty.

“The coercive nature of this law is unthinkable.  Our state leaders should not hold our own fuel taxes hostage because ‘the people’ voted down a bad referendum.  Nor should they incentivize voting for a terrible bill,” said Steve Brown of the Transportation Leadership Coalition and Fayette County Commissioner.  “One penalty clause is bad enough, but two penalty clauses in legislation proves a sheer lack of faith in their own plan.” 

The law reads as follows starting on line 687:
“(d) In the event a special district sales and use tax election is held and the voters in a special district do not approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 30 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for at least 24 months and until such time as a special district sales and use tax is approved.
“In the event the voters in a special district approve the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax, the local governments in such special district shall be required to provide a 10 percent match for any local maintenance and improvement grants by the Department of Transportation for transportation projects and programs for the duration of the levy of the special district transportation sales and use tax.”

“We need strong leadership under the Gold Dome with the fortitude to repeal this terrible law and replace it with a plan that uses common sense,” said Jack Staver, chairman, Transportation Leadership Coalition.  “This is certainly not any democratic principle that I believe in.  Voting your conscience should not come with any penalty.”

The Transportation Leadership Coalition calls on Governor Deal and the State legislature to not only revoke the penalty, but also repeal HB 277 in its entirety.

About Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC
Transportation Leadership Coalition, LLC, is a grassroots, all-volunteer organization that has come together in the belief that the State of Georgia can do a much better job of transportation planning than passing the largest tax increase in Georgia history and spending the money on politically-favored rail projects, trapping us into a tax situation that will continue forever.  We believe that if Georgians understand the facts about the project list and the proposed management of the funds and projects, they will overwhelmingly reject it.  
Twitter: @TrafficTruth

August 3--  There will be three new faces on the five-member Montgomery County school board in January and the outgoing board chairman hopes the new board can bring the community together.

Deloris James says that's one reason she decided not to run for re-election.

"Maybe part of the distraction has been political and I did think about the fact that if I removed myself that might make some people have a better view of the school system," she says.

The school system just came off a year of accreditation probation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), but James says there's still work to do.

"I just hope that having gone through the SACS process that everybody will read the SACS report and understand the main thing in there still is that the board of education and the community need to find a way to come together  for the best interest of the students, their education and the entire county," James says.

No matter who's on the school board, James says the school system's financial status is bleak and she believes there's no way around raising school property taxes.

"It is just a fact.  The millage rate for schools in Montgomery County is 12.1 mils and that is going to go up.  Those school taxes are going to 15 mils if we want to keep our equalization grant, and there's no way to operate without that equalization money," she reports.

"We hope that the community and all of the stakeholders will see we are doing the best we can given the financial constraints we are working under," she says.

August 1--  A runoff election for the Republican primary in the 12th Congressional District will pit Augusta building contractor Rick Allen against Grovetown farmer and former state representative Lee Anderson.

Late election returns were received Wednesday according to the Georgia Secretary of State's office.

19 of 19 Counties Reporting

Percent Votes
25.70% 15,434
34.24% 20,558
24.73% 14,850
15.33% 9,206






Allen edged out Augusta attorney Wright McLeod by 584 votes. McLeod's campaign issued a statement regarding a potential recount.

"After the results are finalized, we then have two days to request a recount. At this time, we are leaving that option on the table. I must consider whether or not a recount would be in the best interest of the voters of the 12th District. Our campaign recognizes that requesting such would provide a "trust but verify" approach to the election results and allow us all to move forward," the statement said.

The runoff election will be held August 21.  The winner will face incumbent Democrat Congressman John Barrow in November.


August 1--  The 17 counties in the Heart of Georgia Altamaha region will be able to save 20 percent on their local transportation projects in the future because their voters approved the one penny Transportation Special Purpose Local Option Sales Tax (SPLOST) Tuesday.  Governor Deal made the point in a statement released Wednesday.

Gov. Nathan Deal today reiterated his commitment to working on Georgia’s transportation mobility using existing resources.

“The voters of Georgia have spoken, and I will continue to do what I have done since I became governor: Work in consultation with state transportation leaders, legislators and local officials to establish our priority projects. There will be belt-tightening. It’s certainly disappointing that we won’t have the resources to accomplish all the projects needed to get Georgians moving quicker, but it does force state officials, including myself, to focus all our attention on our most pressing needs. For example, TSPLOST contained $600 million to rebuild the Ga. 400/I-285 interchange. We will face significant challenges in that corridor if that doesn’t get fixed, particularly after the tolls come down and volume increases. We’ll have a ‘need to do’ Transportation Improvement Program list, but not a ‘want to do’ list. In addition to tight state budgets, we’re also facing a significant reduction in federal funds so tough choices await.

“On public transportation, yesterday’s vote slams the door on further expansion of our rail network any time soon. Neither I nor the Legislature has much of an appetite for new investments until there are significant reforms in how MARTA operates.

“The referendum passed in three regions, and I think those regions will see great returns on their investment. Under the law, these regions will also receive a 90 percent match for local transportation projects, meaning they will only have to put up 10 percent from local funds. The law requires a 70-30 split in the regions that didn’t pass it.

“As governor, I aim to make Georgia the No. 1 place in the nation to do business and improving our transportation infrastructure is a major part of that effort. Yesterday’s vote wasn’t an end of the discussion; it’s a transition point. We have much to do, and I’ll work with state and local officials to direct our limited resources to the most important projects.”